Day at the Dentist

Alaina took her second trip to the dentist today, a morning full of challenges, if not necessarily the expected ones. I’ve seen multiple Facebook posts from other parents that had to physically restrain their screaming children as their teeth were marginally cleaned by exasperated hygienists, promising everything from ice cream to ponies in order to coerce their kids to hold still for ten minutes. I’ve seen and heard stories of destroyed waiting rooms and judgmental looks, sad tales of tears and woe.

We seem to face different problems with this child.

After several days of Alaina returning to her habit of waking me up when she did, she chose today to again spend the morning by herself.  She’d used a kitchen chair to retrieve mommy’s IPad, apparently not placed as far out of reach as thought. I found her sitting nicely on the couch, watching YouTube videos of some guy reviewing the newest Disney toys.  Besides a new place to store the tablet, a new code seems to be needed.

Already behind schedule, the process of getting dressed and actually out of the house began. There are many days when Alaina will accept whatever outfit is presented to her without complaint. Other days she refuses to put on anything that she doesn’t feel is “beautiful” enough. This was a “special” day because of her much anticipated “appointment.”  It went neither smoothly or quickly.

The actual teeth cleaning part of the day was easier than any rational person would imagine, as was her last visit.  Any endeavor that involves Alaina being the center of attention goes well. There was no wait and she gleefully jumped into the chair, opening wide without prompt. She followed all given directions and had yet another stranger convinced that she was nothing but a “little angel.”  We were very proud of her.

 

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When she was done it was mommy’s turn.  My reason for going on this adventure was to keep Alaina occupied during this time, but it turned out that my presence was unnecessary.  She was more than happy to help with mommy’s cleaning, at one point carrying on the family tradition in healthcare by taking her mother’s X Rays.

Getting out of the office took a little more time. Every employee needed to be said goodbye to.  A few got hugs.  She refused to leave without spending a few minutes discussing the fish tank with a guy that had come in after us. She was happy with her new toothbrush but very disappointed that she didn’t get braces. Her big sister got braces. Didn’t seem fair.

Eventually we made it home.  For as much time as I spend shaking my head at this kid’s antics, there are very few parents that can say that their three year old was the highlight of the day for everyone at the dentist’s office.

Rude Awakenings

For a long time, my day would start the same way. Some time between six and seven AM a little voice would come through the monitor, telling me “daddy, its time to get up now”, repeated endlessly until I dragged myself up and went to get her.  My own two foot tall alarm clock.

The transition to “big girl” bed was astonishingly easy and the monitor was soon turned off.  As much as I enjoy listening to my daughter sing, I don’t need to hear the ABCs at full volume at three o’clock in the morning.  My day would start with a soft tapping on my shoulder, telling me “daddy, its time to get up now.”

I no longer have any idea what time Alaina gets up in the morning.

It seems that as soon as the sun reaches her window, she gets up, goes potty, plays for a while, and eventually comes to get me when she starts to get hungry or needs the channel changed. She dresses herself, often looking like an extra from a clown show or Xena, Warrior Princess. The hardest part of the morning often is trying to explain to her why she can’t wear a sundress to school in the middle of winter.

 

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Alaina has always been very independent. Her first words might have been “mommy” and “daddy”, but her first full sentence was “I do it myself!”  She gets angry when told she can’t do things because she is “too little”. Things like driving a car or helping clear ice from the gutters.  She’s starting to insist that she doesn’t need a babysitter and wants to know when it will be her turn to be “in charge” when left alone with her older sister.

So I was surprised but not overly concerned when I was instead awakened by a ringing phone at 9:30 a few days ago. I didn’t panic, but also didn’t waste much time getting downstairs. An independent child can be a great thing if they are aware of their limitations, but it wouldn’t be out of character for her to decide she was going to scramble her own eggs.

She was found on the couch, dresses absurdly as always. Breakfast consisted of her sister’s leftover Valentine’s Day candy and most, if not quite all, of the juice she had poured seemed to have ended up in her cup. The television was tuned to Fight Club on the IFC channel, a great movie but not exactly suitable for three year olds.

The phone call that had alerted me to this turn of events had been from her older sister, concerned because Alaina had used my cell phone to call her at school to ask what the code was for mommy’s IPad.

I’m very proud of the little person Alaina is turning into, and was grateful for the extra sleep, but she has been admonished to come and get me when she wakes up in the morning.

Regardless of how she perceives herself, Alaina needs to stay daddy’s little baby for a little while longer.

 

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No Shenanigins on my watch

 

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I’m a pretty big fan of Tulamore Dew Irish Whiskey and I’ll drop a bomb into a pint of Guinness whenever somebody’s buying.  I’ve got a Flogging Mollys CD and five or six by The Dropkick Murphys, who I’ve seen twice in concert.  I enjoy a nice Irish pub, specially late in the evening when everybody gets rowdy and starts singing.  The rendition of “Wild Rover” myself, my wife, and our friends Chris and Kathleen performed from atop a bar in Florida a few years back was legendary.

 

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But I have no use for St Patrick’s Day.  Today we celebrate the life of a guy who converted the Irish pagans to Christianity in the early 1700s.  Apparently he used a four leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity, but I confess this makes little mathematical sense to me.  People of actual Irish origin use the day to celebrate their heritage.  Lots of others use it as an excuse to wear green clothes and get loaded.

Obviously, an anti-drinking post on a blog titled “Musings of a Thirsty Daddy” is going to come across somewhat hypocritical.

I have no problems with drinking itself.  There are many things that are just simply better with beer.  Watching football, playing pool, mowing the lawn.  I enjoy sipping on a nice bourbon and sprite or three after the kids go to bed.

What I rarely do anymore is get drunk, which is something completely different.  Getting drunk is what I used to do.  This is when “stupid shit” gets done, of which I’ve had my share. There are bar fights, arguments, “watch this” moments when you tell somebody to “hold my beer” and carry the scars twenty years later.

Luckily I was pretty successful at avoiding the stupidest, which is driving when drunk.  For a teenage boy there is no faster way to ruin the rest of your, or somebody else’s, life.

Kayla is not a teenage boy.  Statistics vary, but the general idea is that in at least 50% of sexual assaults, the victim is intoxicated. The numbers coming out of college campuses these days makes me wonder how any father allows his daughter to go.

Right now she has a very negative attitude towards alcohol, as do some of her closer friends, for a variety of reasons. To my knowledge she’s never experimented with alcohol and I hope this continues for as long as possible.  She’s not currently allowed to ride in cars with other teenagers and in six years or so when that policy changes they will be subjected to random breathalyzer testing.  She’ll be staying home on St Patrick’s Day and New Years Eve.

Tonight I’m only working at the hospital until 9:00, so chances are I’ll miss most of the drunken revelers that will surely be telling each other to “hold my beer” and making their way to the Emergency Room.  When I get home chances are good that I’ll raise a pint to Lucky the Leprechaun or whoever the hell this day is for.

But my fifteen year old daughter will be staying home.

 

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Sneakers and Wings

I work mainly nights and alternating weekends, so quality time with the teenager can be hard to come by. When I got a text yesterday asking if we could go out to lunch, I was happy to oblige. There was a catch, however.  First we had to go shopping.  For me.

She accepted readily enough that I don’t think she thought I was serious. I don’t ever “go shopping” for myself, unless the supermarket or liquor store counts. The only clothes I’ve bought for myself in the last twenty years are socks, underwear, and items with sports logos. Sometimes socks and underwear with sports logos.

If you’ve even been talked into taking a teenage girl to the mall, you know what torture it can be.  After a few pieces of pizza and an hour or so browsing for music and videogames, you rendezvous to find that they are only a quarter of the way through their targeted stores. Don’t plan on doing anything else that afternoon. If there is a game on TV you want to watch, set your DVR and avoid checking your phone.

So I dragged it out a little.  All I actually needed was a new pair of sneakers, but I went to a few different places. I checked out the new gear at Olympia Sports and looked at some shirts in Kohls that I wouldn’t be caught dead in, asking her opinion often.  By the third stop she asked if she could stay in the car. I didn’t let her.

Eventually I got tired of the game, ( OK, I got hungry ) and settled on a pair of blue Reeboks.  Somehow she ended up with a new sweater. We had a nice lunch, devoid of her attention draining little sister. Phones were left in pockets, conversation was had.

Not a bad way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon in March.

 

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Cartoons

 

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I may have lost control over virtually everything else in my life, but the one thing I still hold onto is the remote control. Not necessarily what is on the TV, but the remote itself. Alaina can turn the TV on and off, but still hasn’t been able to figure out how to change the channel. Yes, she can get very grumpy when “her shows” aren’t on, but WHICH cartoons is still completely up to me.

Between PBS, Discovery JR, three Nickelodeon channels and four Disneys, I usually have plenty of options. I know most of the schedules and plan accordingly. Peppa Pig sometimes amuses me, Olivia the Pig does not. No Barney or Thomas the Train are tolerated, but Dinosaur Train and Chuggington are OK.  Anything with even the smallest educational qualities are  top choices.

Sick of the silliness and emboldened by my recent successes moving towards toys that I want to play with, I’ve begun searching for cartoons with more “adult” sensibilities.  The Star Wars Rebels cartoon is really good, as are the Spider Man and Avengers shows.  So far, so good. She doesn’t always understand what is going on, but with some tutoring is beginning to figure out which are the good and bad guys.  The Emperors’s takeover of Parliament during the Clone Wars as allegory for increased executive powers in the United States seems an easier concept for her that the idea that there are now child AND teenage Doras, depending on the time of day.

I may be biased by nostalgia, but it seems like there were much better cartoons growing up in the 80s. There were the ones everybody knows, like GI Joe and the Transformers, memories ruined now by terrible live action movies.  Superhero shows like Spider Man and The Superfriends, space adventures with  Voltron and Battle of the Planets, fantasies with Dragons Lair and Dungeons and Dragons.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I recently ordered Thundarr the Barbarian, the Complete Series from Amazon. I probably should be, but I’m not.

Most of the time, Alaina isn’t even watching the TV, she just likes to prove she’s the boss.  She spends a lot of her time playing and is great about helping out around the house. With NFL free agency starting, she’s been forced to endure a lot more Sportcenter.

The Hulk is still difficult to explain, but she knows for sure that Darrelle Revis is one of the “bad guys.”

 

 

 

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms