Thursday, July 27, 2017

Chivalry is Not Dead

Bianca picked up Ethan at Goddard recently and witnessed a bit of world class chivalry. As she made her way through the school and out into the playground she noticed Ethan in the corner of the playground with a little girl. He was standing between her and something else, something not visible. 

As Bianca got closer she heard Ethan tell the little girl: "Stay back Josie." Then Ethan, filled with all the courage his little two year old body could contain, turned to the invisible something and said: "We no like that." As Bianca edged closer she saw that Ethan was directing his invictive at a spider. Ethan, still standing his ground, then spat defiance at the spider and his menancing (or not) appearance: "You come closer and I punch you in the weenie."

 That was it, that was the ultimate threat from two year old Beethan.  He wasn't having any of it and though he is roughly 1000 times the size of the spider, as was Josie, he had to do his duty and protect her.  And what could be more protective than a 28 inch tall two year threatening to punch you in the weenie?  And that doesn't even account for the fact that I don't think spiders have weenies.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Isaac and the Goggles

Kids are surprisingly tough. This past weekend I learned just how tough. Two summers ago, Isaac was not a great swimmer and didn't like going to the pool at summer camp. He would come home, face as red as a beet, having spent time in the garden instead of the pool. Then last year, we got him a scuba-mask style set of goggles because he was concerned about water going up his nose. It worked and last summer he turned into a a decent swimmer.

Fast forward a year and now, equipped with his beloved scuba mask, he was a virtual sea otter. He talks about the pool and all of his adventures all of the time. But unfortunately we didn't have an opportunity to see this (having buried our backyard pool in dirt about six years ago). So last weekend we decided to go to a local swimming pool and see Isaac in all his glory. For a few minutes he danced and dove around the pool and was so proud of how good he was. Bianca, Ethan, and I were delighted.

But then a lifeguard spoke up. His scuba mask goggles were not allowed. I am lawyer so I sought an appeal and my argument in favor of the scuba mask goggles was denied on appeal. Sadly I told Isaac that he had to take off his goggles. He couldn't he told us. He'd drowned. He needed them to swim. Without them it was over. Sadly, with his spirit broken, he got out of the pool and sat in the grass, crying a little bit every once in a while. As his Dad, it was heart rending to see Isaac go from joyous to crushed. Finally, I couldn't take it. I told him we could go get some new goggles. Wet and cold, he and I hopped into the car and drove to Dicks where we bought new goggles and a nose clamp. 

Returning to the pool, he felt triumphant again. He hopped in and the noise clip fell off. Isaac didn't know what to do. But he knew that I had really made an effort, so he told me that he would try going in without the nose clamp. Bianca and I held our breath as Isaac did. He bobbed under the water, swam around, and then popped out. He was fine he told us. He didn't need the nose clamp and the new goggles were great. For the next hour or so, our little sea otter returned. It was a great day and Bianca and I were so happy with how resilient he was. Kids are amazing and tough.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Lion King

As a family, we watch very little TV. Isaac has probably seen less than a hour's worth of commercials in his entire life. What TV he does consume is usually streamed and commercial free. But we LOVE movies. We watch a movie probably once a week, unless it is rainy or someone is sick. One of the best movies we all like is the Lion King. Unfortunately, Ethan has not had the attention span to watch the entire thing. Until now.

 Last Friday we tried to watch the Lion King and the magical intro captured Ethan's attention and he hung in for the entire movie. Isaac first saw Lion King when he was a bit older, around three. At the time we were worried about the scene where the Dad dies and so for about a year we always skipped it. When Isaac was around five we let him watch the whole movie and we were deluged with questions: Is the Dad dead? Why haven't I seen this before? Who's fault is it that he died? It was unending. But, we reasoned, Ethan is significantly younger and has a very small attention span. There is no need to skip the Dad dying as he won't pick up on what's going on or, more likely, even pay attention when it happens. So we watched the Lion King unbroken.

 The scene comes and Mufasa (the Dad) dies. Ethan is watching and gets very quiet. The movie is basically silent for three minutes and the entire time Ethan is saying: "Where'd the Daddy go?" Oops. He got it. Parenting is a very fraught and difficult thing. You are never quite sure how to handle something and 99% of the time you just do your best. But kids are rapacious learners and studious observers. They are learning at a much faster rate than any adult and so even when you, as an adult, try to project just how fast they are advancing, you almost always fail.

 Ethan wasn't traumatized by Mufasa's death scene, but he was confused. Which is amazing because that is exactly the feeling the filmmakers were trying to elicit in the viewer. Death is confusing to adults and conveying that in a kids movie is tough. But they did it. Ultimately Lion King has a great message about parents and children and Ethan got that too. Both were a surprise. Kids are amazing.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A New Organ

A few nights ago I got Ethan out of the tub. He was dripping wet, but needed to use the potty. I brought him over to his little john and he did his thing. Then I toweled him off, brought him into his room, and put on his diaper. During this process, he told me that he had a "poopis." I assume, based on all of the potty related discussions at our house, this was a combination of "penis" and "pooper." I asked him what it did and he told me "poop/pee." Funny as this sounds many reptiles and all dinosaurs had an organ that did both pooping and peeing called a cloaca (it also handled reproduction). I asked Ethan where his poopis was and he told me, very much to my surprise, "my head." He pointed to his cranial suture, aka the soft spot. Later I asked him if Isaac and I had one and he said yes. I then ask him where Isaac's was and he told us: "Isaac's neck." I asked where mine was and he replied "Neck too Daddy." So go check the mirror and look at your neck and top of the head. You might just find a poopis there. PS: Don't mention poopis in front of Ethan, it will be the only thing he says and it is dangerously close to a potty word.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Chatterbox Beethan

As June fades and July blossoms we are in prep mode for Acadia. Every year we go on vacation with Nanna and P-Pa and the mornings and afternoons are spent hiking. To get ready we like to do some hiking, in full gear. This past weekend, the glorious four day weekend thanks to a Tuesday 4th of the July, we climbed Crows Hill Ledge. This is the first time we did it with a two year old Beethan and the weight was pretty different. Last fall we did the hike a few times and it was not bad at all. Beeth was basically a slightly heavier than normal backpack. But this time, whoa baby. He is chunk of baby at 28 pounds and change and so with that weight plus the pack and it is contents, I probably bear an extra 35-40 pounds. At first it was exhausting. This is right at the time when Isaac was transitioning out of the pack, maybe a few months later (but those few months matter when a baby is born in June--four more months puts you into the cooler October weather). I was worried I wasn't going to make it. Then I started getting a constant stream of chatter. It was like listening to a tiny (more) unintelligible auctioneer in my ear. Beeth was non-stop with the chatter. "Daddy look at this." "Daddy did you see our chipmunk friend?" "Daddy, touch the blue (he like his brother likes to touch trail marker)?" "Daddy, let's climb that." "Daddy is that pooop." "Daddy, where Mommy?" "Daddy, where Isaac?" "Let's go find Isaac and Mommy?" "Go faster." "Jump, please!" It was a forty minute hike up and a forty minute hike back and he talked for probably 38 at minutes each way. Isaac, on the other hand, almost always fell asleep in the backpack. I was delighted to have a little play by play announcer with me every step of the way. On the way down, I did start to lag a bit. It was hot and the "Devil's staircase" portion of the hike is especially brutal going down. I was slowing and breathing heavier. Ethan could tell. So he mustered up his most powerful special ability--his chant. The boy can start a chant better than a drunk guy in the outfield at Fenway. And this particular chant pulled at my heart strings and powered me through the final steps: "DA-DEE, DA-DEE, DA-DEE." With that chant going how could you not keep going?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Isaac turned seven two weeks ago and I feel remiss for being late with a birthday post.  

Isaac has grown so much in the past seven years, it is nearly inconceivable.  To go from a little guy that can't lift up his own head, to a walking, talking, dapping kid is an amazing process.  I thought that I might just not notice, that living with him everyday might make me miss the small steps he takes, even to this day, but the reality is being a parent makes you attentive to another in a way that is impossible to replicate elsewhere.  I haven't missed how amazing the process is.  I am still in awe of it.  Just this week, we moved around the reading at bedtime so that I can see over his shoulder and in that time I have witnessed him tackle reading with so much more confidence than he had just a few months ago.  Reading is the key that unlocks modern society and watching Isaac master that key has been spectacularly fun, especially when cast against a background of anticipating his discovery of the  bigger world around him that reading unlocks.  

We think of people has having a static age--"Isaac is Seven" but the reality is that even as a adults we are always in the process of becoming someone new, someone with more experience and a better perspective.  For me, witnessing Isaac go through this process of development has been one of the singular gifts of my life.  

And so while he got a lot of nice gifts on his birthday, I have come to realize that birthdays for parents are about celebrating the gift their child represents to them--the every day gift of growing and changing and mastering the world around them.  In watching that process parents learn about themselves and the world with a fresh perspective.  And this is one of the many reasons why children are perpetual gifts to their parents.  Happy Birthday Isaac Anthony!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

When Two Year Olds Dream

It was a crazy busy week this week.  I was at a conference in Boston for two days and then in Boston again on Friday.  Bianca did way more their her fair share of taking care of the boys.  This meant that she got a lot of time with them and in this extended time she heard a flight of fancy from Ethan Beethan.

On Friday night she was talking with Ethan and he told her:

"Mommy, we go to gazebo.  Me and Callum.  We go see humpback whales."

Let me unpack that for you.  First, the gazebo is reference to one of our favorite parks--Coggshall.  There is a gazebo on Mirror Lake and around it are a wide variety of animals--fish, snakes, and turtles of all sorts.  Ethan positively LOVES the turtles, so going to the gazebo means that Ethan is going to see some wild life.

The second sentence is a bit easier--Callum is one of his friends at school.  He has three other buddies--Christopher, Luca, and Alex, but right now Callum is the one in his best buddy circle.  Ethan and Luca have been positively angry with each other for all of the sort of offenses you would imagine two year olds would be angry with each other for--toy theft, yelling, nothing more than random mood swings.  Right now, Callum is it.

The third sentence references Ethan's new favorite book/animal.  Last week, it was Balgegle, Balgegle (Bald Eagle, Bald Eagle) but right now he is a whale phase.  And his favorite picture in the whale book is of a humpback whale.

So when you apply all of those things you get Ethan's dream play date circa June 2017--a trip to Coggshall with Callum to see humpback whales.  Unfortunately Mirror Lake is probably no more than ten feet deep, so, well, that's not going to happen.  But it is fun to dream, right?