Back when Caroline and Edward were wildly interested in the Itsy Bitsy Spider and the Wheels on the Bus I tried to make up choreography for Boynton's Oh Me Oh My Oh Dinosaurs. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the book goes "Dinosaurs happy, Dinosaurs sad" so I would first grin and then look sorrowful. It continues until it reaches "Dinosaurs Cute; Dinosaurs not." For cute I pressed my index finger into my cheek, making a dimple. You know "cute." Caroline has since forgotten all about it but Edward for some reason instantly committed my nonsense to memory and every time the book resurfaces he is standing there waving his hands in the air (Dinosaurs big) and pinching his fingers together (Dinosaurs tiny) and when we get to Dinosaurs cute he firmly sticks his middle finger into his ear and wiggles it around.
Steve witnessed this performance today and asked me, "Is that ear thing supposed to be cute?"
I said, "It's adorable."
Steve said, "Isn't he going to puncture an ear drum?"
"With those fat fingers? No way."
I continued reading and Steve stared at Edward. "Does he just keep doing it?"
And I said, "Of course not" and got to the part where dinosaurs are looking right at YOU to say goodbye.
Edward unplugged his ear and waved at Steve. "BYE BYE!" he shouted. "BYE BYE!"
I consider myself the Bob Fosse of the board book set.
Speaking of Edward, I was carrying him toward the stairs the other night and he became increasingly agitated.
"Down," he said. "DOWN!"
And I said, "Oh no we are going UP. UP to bed! UP UP UP!"
So he repeated DOWN and I repeated UP and just as I turned to mount the staircase he had an inspired flash: "Feet?" he said very carefully and touched his foot.
"Oh," I said, "do you want to walk up the stairs yourself?"
"Yea-s!" he said, visibly relieved.
So I put him down and he walked up the stairs. It reminded me of an old Erma Bombeck story in which she took her family to a rented villa in Spain but among them they only had about eight words of Spanish.
"My son will be coming with the verbs," she kept telling the locals. They would nod and smile and have absolutely no idea what she was talking about. Edward could use some verbs but in the meantime he is a whiz with his nouns.
Caroline, meanwhile, has launched into sentences.
"Shall we sing?" I love that. "Shall we?" It feels so Hodgson Burnett
"Sticky? Me? Up? Touch it sticky me up taste it too?" meaning, of course: let me at the bread dough.
"Get remote we watch racing?" I told you before that I like Formula One. Caroline ADORES it. I'm sorry but it's exciting and although I know the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically advised against children under the age of two watching television I am pretty sure they were referring to stock cars.
This morning she dropped her sippy cup over the gate that keeps her and Edward out of Patrick's Lego-filled space. Patrick said, "I'll get it for you" and he did. When he handed it to her she said, "Sank you."
Patrick gasped and said, "Wasn't that the CUTEST THING? Quick! Call Nana!"
If you entered my house right now you would notice:
1. when cinnamon swirl bread is baking it smells like all of the angels of heaven are making muffins in your kitchen (I'll put the recipe up at Scrambled)
2. it is really fucking cold in here (61 degrees Farenheit last I checked - I am trying to see how long we can go without turning the heat on. I have never figured out how people put blankets over kids in cribs. I mean, I understand how they do it; I just don't understand how the kids stay warm when two seconds later s/he stands up/rolls/scoots/wiggles/moves to the other side of the crib. Patrick used to rotate all night long like hands on a clock. So I am a big fan of wearable blankets and an even bigger fan of the ones made by Grobag, which are quilted and warm and cute and snap at the shoulders. I inherited one from my British friend when the twins were little and managed to track down ever larger sizes in the US through a site called Keen Distributing. In thanks for my patronage they send me annoying emails about their footwear but anyway. How do you keep little kids warm when the house is chilly?)
3. we no longer have any dining room chairs
When I was lamenting the Chicco seats (I was completely wrong about that by the way. It wasn't the seats; it was my children - however for what it is worth the Regalo hanging seats are cheaper and by crossing the shoulder harness straps behind their backs before passing them over the shoulders we have been able to continue keeping even Caroline seated) someone left a comment saying she was amazed the twinkles hadn't started climbing onto the dining room table via the chairs anyway. And some minor Fate heard that and said, "Wait, what? The Hippotwinks haven't started running around on the table yet? They've never even touched the hanging light? That can't be right."
So Caroline made it her daily mission to spend as much time on the table as possible and I got really really tired of hauling her down again (she is short so she had to kick her feet as she climbed up, shoving the chair back as she did so and making it very difficult for her to get back down again) and I finally said oh to hell with this and lugged all the chairs onto the porch. We carry them back in for dinner. For lunch we lean against walls and pretend we are in the middle of a well-attended cocktail party. Steve said, "This is really annoying." I said, "Do you have a better idea?" He said, "No."
Edward started to throw a tantrum.
A millisecond later he forgot what the trouble was.
Edward's funny. On the one hand he has a tendency to flare his nostrils and get very upset about things really, really quickly. Like his brother before him he will make sure that the ground is carpeted and clear of any toys before he throws himself down upon it in a rage, but he'll do it. On the other hand, he is a very even-keeled little person. We went to a birthday party for Noelle's husband Ted Friday night and we brought the twins, guacamole and baby jail in an effort to limit collateral damage. Edward sat on the couch, read books and played with trains. Caroline climbed on the table and then climbed on the table and then she gave Ted's grandma a very nice hug and a kiss and then she climbed on the table and tried to eat a taco the size of her head. Then she and Edward discovered the piano.
Edward is playing I-vi-IV-V. Caroline is taking the top. I mean the bottom.
I don't think Caroline even knows what a tantrum is. She has two moods: ebullient and tired. When she wants something that Edward has she will circle him with something else and then try the Indiana Jones switcheroo - you know, when Monsieur Jones put the bag of sand in the place of the golden idol? Caroline will put a piece... something... into Edward's empty hand and snatch the toy/book/cup he is holding in the other. It works out pretty much the same way as it did in the movie - arrows shoot from walls and huge boulders tumble down and Edward opens his rosebud mouth and ShRiEkS.
My very first job was in a restaurant as the dessert bar tender. I was 16 and a dessert bar was a semi-circular counter where people could come and ogle the cakes and the Napoleons. It had a gigantic brass cappuccino machine and I learned to make an excellent cappuccino provided I have access to a gigantic brass cappuccino machine. It is, as you can imagine, not that useful of a skill. They used to keep liqueurs behind the counter, too, but in the first few months of my employ I drank them all and they sensibly decided to keep them at the service bar after that. All night long I cut neat slices of cheesecake (now that is a useful skill - you need very hot water and a very clean knife) and fielded hilarious questions from guests like "these are all low-calorie, right?" (tee hee hee - oh YOU!) and "are you on the menu?" (tee hee hee - oh YOU!) I eventually moved on to hostess and then busboy and then waitress. The first table I ever had was two businessmen out for lunch. At the end of the meal I left the check and when I came back to pick it up I panicked and rather than the suave "Will there be anything else?" that I intended; I squealed, "WILL YOU NEED ANY CHANGE?" with a horrible grimace. I will never forget how startled that guy looked as he said, "Uh no that's ok, keep it" and I blushed as I pocketed the $3.14. I continued to wait tables through college and then afterward when my English degree failed to get me interviewed anywhere. I finally got hired as a receptionist by a very small company in Chicago where my boyfriend soon to be fiance soon to be husband soon to be ex-husband now bizarre footnote in my personal history worked. I liked that job. When I wasn't answering the phone I read the entire collected works of Trollope and Eliot. However, it was not a particularly fulfilling position and although they were required by law to pay me they certainly did not pay me very much. I got a different job with that company and then another and then I became a buyer for a grocery chain which sounds like more of a leap than it was. That job was ok but I always had more work to do than I could ever get finished so I would spend twelve hours at the office, come home and cry and go to sleep, wake up and throw up and then go back to work again. I moved to Minnesota because I got a job in manufacturing (HO HO HO) and I went into marketing and it was very pleasant. In fact, I had the opposite problem in that job, which was I had hard time finding enough things to do to fill my days. I became quietly notorious for the quantity of paper cut-outs that slowly began to fill my cube. You know, where you fold a sheet of paper like an accordion and then make a string of dolls holding hands? One day I cut a chain of small islands with palm trees on them (you did not know I was a paper cutting master, did you?) and left them on the keyboard belonging to my boss. He sent me an email thanking me for the thoughtful gift and asking how much they paid me, again? I loved him but the job not so much. What I always wanted to do (what I still want to do, frankly) is be a buyer for Target. I would be great at that.
Where was I? Oh I never told you where I was going, so how would you know?
My point is that I have been working for over twenty years but for the first time in my life I am doing something for money that I really and truly love. I am researching and writing two freelance articles right now (hence the bloggy silence) and I have never been so excited about work, like, ever. I love thinking about what to pitch and I love listening to stories and I love getting to retell them and trying to frame them into some larger narrative. I LOVE it and many thanks to all of you who responded to my request for interviews in the past month. I really appreciate it.
I'll end with a question because (see above) I like hearing stories (this is a segue; it has nothing to do with an article): what was your first job and/or do you love what are doing now?