Inspired by yesterday morning:
“The decision to indulge a toddler’s request to use the bathroom by himself is, at best, a crapshoot.”
The day broke dark and foreboding, oppressive humidity slowing all metabolic processes to a torpid crawl. The apartment, having withstood a direct hit from Hurricane Robert over the inclement weekend, was a wreck. The boy was especially recalcitrant this morning, insisting on doing everything himself, which led to a less-than-optimal episode on the toilet.
Then there’s the crew of sewer workers that begins work each day at around 7am. They’ve been camped out in front of my apartment for the last week, rebuilding a partially collapsed sewer main, and they’re using a vehicle the size of a Winnebago that, when in operation, emits a steady, droning whine for hours at a time. Faced with the prospect of enduring the screeching Winnebago while either (A) sifting through the wreckage of my living room or (B) slogging through a tedious work assignment, I moped out the door in search of my morning coffee.
Then, an unlikely source of inspiration. I was slumping home with my cardboard cup when I saw one of the sewer workers, clad head to toe in a yellow rubber suit stained brown from the armpits down, preparing to descend into a shoulder-width hole in the street. He gave me a resigned little wave, and I arrived back home a little lighter than when I left.
Another great perk of parenting in the city—you’re constantly aware that there are shitty days, and there are shitty days.
Hello, world. LOD here, reporting from Chicago and posting the first offsite blog entry of my young career as a Typepad customer. This is why I migrated over to a web-based interface—so that I could sit here, in the bowels of a swank hotel populated overwhelmingly by barrel-chested men with nametags and dark suits, and tell the world that this morning Robert said, “I am waiting for you right now to come home so it will be the three of us,” and then punctuated the sentiment with a hearty belch.
I can also tell you I’ve noticed (via Typepad’s bare-boned visitor data) that a lot of readers are still clicking through from the link page on the old site. Since I plan to take this link page down at the end of the month, it would be great if you could update your bookmarks by then. That way, you’ll still be clued in to any interesting announcements I might have as the summer comes to a close.
I miss being able to plan things and feel reasonably certain that those plans will be carried out. I was a planner once, relying on maps and itineraries and confirmed reservations. But now that parenthood has made my life exponentially more chaotic, I’m only just starting to acclimate to the idea that planning anything is a lot like dog-paddling against a riptide.
I had great plans for Sunday’s post-nap activities. We were going to pack a picnic dinner, attend a free Summerstage concert featuring Laurie Berkner (the Elvis of the 6-and-unders), and then mosey over to the Great Lawn for my weekly softball game. But the Nap, which normally tops out at around 90 minutes, dragged on for a record three and a half hours. Then the Madison Ave. bus took a nice, long detour around a street fair (an utterly useless annoyance that ranks just below rectal polyps on my Esteem List). By the time we got to Central Park, Rumsey Playfield was a cluttered hellscape of juice boxes and used diapers, and the game was in the fourth inning.
There have been days when we’ve had no sleep, or the weather’s abominable, and we’ve begged the boy to shut down the bubble factory for a while so we can regain our bearings. But noooooo. Either he refuses completely, or worse, he wakes up after 35 minutes and favors us with an hour of cranky whimpering. And when we put together a scheme that caters to his boundless energy? He Van Winkles on our parade.
Despite the botched plans, the night was not without highlights. Like when Robert and I had a catch on the sidelines, and he put on my mitt and said, “This is a puppet!”
And later, after I pitched a couple of innings, my wife sat down next to me and asked, “Should I pull an Anna Benson and start blabbing about our sex life?”
It has been remarked that Robert and I look astonishingly alike. Before Robert’s hair came in, a few playground wags struck by our resemblance called him Mini-Me. (Clever, these playground wags; loath to diminish Robert’s individuality, I prefer they call me Maxi-Him.)
I say this because yesterday afternoon the three of us were headed toward Union Square when we saw two stylish young gents, wearing matching pastel Lacoste shirts with upturned collars. They were chortling to themselves, and I caught this snippet of dialogue as they walked past: “Wait ’til she finds out that only one of them has a pituitary gland.”
At first, I was entranced by this conversational thread, wondering what sort of biological backstory could have preceded it. (Perhaps a couple of fashion-forward endocrinologists out for a Sunday stroll?) Then, an epiphany: Were they were talking about us? I kind of doubt it, but I can’t for the life of me come up with an alternate explanation. Occam’s Razor strikes again.
Any ideas out there? If so, please forward them below. In the meantime, it’s a lovely day, and Robert and I are headed off to throw water on each other. In our unmatched shirts.
It’s enough of a shame that none of Sesame Street’s new monster characters has any of the charisma of Grover, Bert, or Ernie. Baby Bear’s infantile diction is an embarrassment, and Rosita, an honorable attempt at multiculturalism, is just grating. And don’t get me started on Elmo.
Could someone at least repair the cardboard in Telly’s bottom jaw? There’s a crack near the hinge of his mouth, and every time he talks, he looks like a stroke victim. They might as well complete the look by pinning his right arm to his chest.
Raising a child in a society of inveterate jaywalkers, who would sprint through a mine-laden cesspool if it shaved a half-second off their commute, is no easy task. Few New Yorkers are even aware that our comings and goings are, in theory, governed by little blinky crossing lights. I know because one day I noticed that every “Walk/Don’t Walk” sign in my neighborhood had been mysteriously replaced by the more tourist-, illiterate-, and lunatic-friendly "Red Hand" and "Walking Guy" symbols. And everyone I mentioned this to looked around quizzically and gave the same response: “Whoa. When did that happen?”
When we taught Robert how to cross the street, we used the terms “Red Hand” and “Walking Guy,” because “White Guy” makes me think of the Senate, and the Senate gives me a headache. For months now, whenever he and I have encountered a red light, and no cars have been visible in either direction, we have ignored the dozens of pedestrians careering past us and remained still until we see Walking Guy. And I have strained at the invisible tether, because my years in the city have put me in a perpetual hurry, even when I have nowhere to go.
Strollering is another story, however, since I’ve crossed First Avenue against the red dozens of times when there are no cars for blocks. Robert has mostly taken things at face value and assumed that Daddy knows what he's doing. But yesterday Robert flipped out, yelling, “No, Daddy! You have to wait for Walking Guy! It’s Red Hand right now!” Then he began bucking and shimmying to get my attention.
In other words, Robert is becoming just like his father—a terrible backseat (frontseat?) driver.
The tale of the tape for Roger Clemens: 322 victories, 4,200 strikeouts, six Cy Youngs, and one big screw loose.
Clemens' posse says it's a non-event, and it probably was. But anyone who throws a bat at Piazza and names his kids after strikeouts is still a friggin' loon.
Luckily, the media are showing their typical restraint.
On Tuesday, Robert’s swim lessons got off to a pretty successful start. There was no way in hell he’d go under water and blow bubbles (one of the course’s principal objectives), but he kicked and splashed like a champ, and he even dog-paddled for about 20 feet all by himself with a Noodle wedged into his armpits. What is left of Daddy’s hair stood on end with pride.
Then Thursday came along, and Robert wasn’t nearly as motivated. In fact, he wanted nothing to do with the pool at all. Thinking I did not wait an hour to sign up for these lessons just so my son could stare at the trucks rumbling by on the FDR, I did the Be A Man thing and took him into the pool with me, despite his shrill protests. I held him for a bit, then he kicked for a bit, then he swam by himself for a bit, all the while begging to get back onto dry land and throw towels into the pool. And I felt kinda bad for him. Here he was, a proud new member of Underpants Nation, and Daddy was rewarding him by making him flail for his life.
This may help explain the accidents he’s had lately, when he’s never even bothered to head for the bathroom. These could be normal relapses, or they could be little protests against The Man for trying to drown him and/or stomp on his potty buzz. Either way, we were a bit anxious, because walking around with an unpredictable, un-diapered child in a playground with no toilet access is a game of High-Stakes Hot Potato. Someone's not gonna be happy when the music stops.
We’d had just about enough of plotting our every move around access to plumbing when Robert left the table on Saturday and scampered down the hall, hands pulling at his waistband. I followed as usual, offering help, but he turned around and said, “Will you please stand outside because I need some privacy right now.” He slammed the door in my face, and my heart soared.
So I guess it was premature to say that Robert is out of diapers. As we all know, proclaiming “mission accomplished” doesn't make it so.