Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Mouse in the House

One early morning last week I staggered downstairs to the kitchen to make some much needed coffee in the blessed quiet before my three children would be awake demanding Aquanauts on the TV and milk in their sippy cups.  As I stood at the counter in the kitchen, bleary-eyed, enjoying the aroma of brewing coffee, I heard it . . . . the shuffley-scratchy sound of a mouse in the house.  I froze.  Suddenly I was very much awake, listening intently to that all-too-familiar shuffley-scratchy sound of a mouse in the house and trying to determine the exact location of the cursed critter.

You see, last spring and summer our entire neighborhood was overrun with mice.  It was a frequent topic of sidewalk conversation among the neighbors.  Nearly all of us resorted to a not-inexpensive service that not only got rid of the mice, but carefully sealed every nook and cranny around the ground level of the house so that no more mice would make our home their home.  And ultimately it worked.  The mice vanished and were not seen or heard from again. 

So, as I stood in the kitchen that early morning last week waiting for my coffee to brew, I was not at all happy to hear once again the shuffley-scratchy sound of a mouse in the house.

Without moving, using my super-human, bionic-woman-like powers of hearing, I listened carefully so that I could pinpoint the exact location of the little varmint.  The shuffley-scratchy sound of the mouse in the house was louder than I expected.  And more animated too.  Could there be two?  What in the dickens were they doing?  Dancing?  And why were they out and about in the house in the morning.  Our previous mouse guests and been active only at night.

Gradually, I turned from the counter and crept across the kitchen towards the breakfast room as quietly as, well, a mouse, so that I might catch a glimpse of the little intruder.  And, there in the breakfast room, seated at the breakfast room table, tiny little fingers tapping away at the keyboard on my laptop, was Margot.  She turned to me and grinned.  “Good morning, Daddy!  I was just checking your email.  Can I have some toast?”  Okay, she didn’t say that because she’s not talking yet, but it’s what she would have said if she could have said something.

Yes, Margot had toddled downstairs sometime earlier that morning, before I was up, and sat herself in front of my laptop to pass the time until she knew I would finally show up to make her some toast. 

You see, in our house we don’t have mice anymore.  What we have is free-range two-year-olds. 

Margot was the first to climb out of her crib.  Actually, first she climbed out of her pack-n-play in the country over Labor Day Weekend.  Again and again one night.  To the point where at different times during the night Ken and I were sleeping next to the pack-n-play to keep her in her bed.  Then when we got back home to San Francisco she demonstrated her ability to clamber quite easily out of her crib.  She got quite good at it quite fast.  In fact, last weekend when she was supposed to be taking a nap she climbed out of her crib ten times.  That’s not an exaggeration.  I counted.  I thought that if every time she climbed out of her crib I put her right back in, she would eventually give up and take her nap.  She, on the other hand, thought in her little head, “If every time Daddy puts me back in my crib I climb right back out, he’ll eventually give up and I won’t have to take a nap.”  She was right. 

It was actually several days before I sat in the room and watched her climb out of her crib.  She would swing her leg up over the end of the crib, pull herself over the side, tummy down, and then lower herself so that she could set first one foot and then the other foot on the cross piece at mattress level.  Then she would simply hop off.

Not to be outdone for long, it was only a week before Flynn realized he was getting left behind.  He quickly figured out the art of crib climbing and became a free-range two-year-old as well. 

So, sadly, we bid adeiu to the period when we could put two of our three children to bed and count on them to stay put.  And we say "hola" to the nightly battle of wills to get children to go to bed and stay in bed. 

Margot and Flynn, not in their beds but in Coco's bed instead.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Margot and Flynn turn 2.

Flynn and Margot are now two.

Margot continues to be an independent, curious and introverted little girl.  (I’m so thankful there might be at least one more introvert in this family to keep me company . . . that is, when I want company . . ..)  At two, Margot already has her own opinion about the clothes she’ll wear.  In the morning when I pull clothes out of her drawer she makes it very clear if the outfit I’ve chosen is acceptable to her.  She may not have many words yet (see more on that below) but she knows “no” and uses it often.  Because her shoes and pajamas are kept in bins she can reach, she brings to me the shoes she wants to wear in the morning and the pajamas she wants to wear at night.  Dora and Doc McStuffins are already her favorites.  Because I’m the easy-going dad who can barely get himself dressed in the morning, she gets to wear whatever she chooses. 

Margot likes to try new things; at grandma and grandpa’s house last month she was way more excited than Flynn to try out Coco’s scooter and bike with training wheels.  She likes to play with our iPhones, playing games and watching PBS videos.  She continues to be the helpful one, picking up things around the house that are not in their right place and pointing our any spills she might find (and she finds them frequently). 

Flynn is a shy, cuddly and rambunctious little boy.  His shy nature still surprises me.  When someone he doesn’t know tries to talk to him he’ll immediately reach up to Daddy or Papa to be picked up and then – this is the interesting part, to me – he’ll turn his head away and pretend like the person simply isn’t there.  It’s like he’s pretending that there’s something in the opposite direction that’s far more interesting and he’s been meaning to look at for quite some time.  I guess it’s kind of like when you’re on the bus or the train going to work and a crazy person gets on; everyone simply pretends it’s not happening.  That’s what Flynn does; he ignores the crazy person.  It’s quite remarkable.  At least he doesn’t burst into tears anymore. 
Flynn really loves to be picked up, to be held and to cuddle.  If Daddy or Papa is sitting down, then he wants to be in a lap.  He also loves to climb and hang on to just about anything.  He hangs on tables, on bathroom sinks.  Just about anything he can hold onto that will hold his weight.  His favorite sport is jumping on the bed.  It brings him unbelievable joy.  How is it that as a child you think jumping on the bed is the most obvious and natural purpose for a bed, yet as a parent you see jumping on the bed as the inevitable path to a cracked skull?

"You understand what I'm saying, right?"
Neither Margot nor Flynn are talking yet and, frankly, I’m getting impatient.  They use a few basic words: “no” (but not “yes” - although Margot is very good at nodding “yes” while Flynn just grins if he agrees with whatever I’ve said), “up” “juice” “shoes” and “more” for example.  And they’re both good with “Papa” (which they use interchangeably for both Daddy and Papa) and “Coco.”  “Coco” they say all the time and frankly they seem to say it any time they see something that reminds them of Coco.  Margot at least utters series of sounds and syllables that sound something like a sentence might sound if she knew words.  And then she gives you this look like, “You understand what I’m saying, right?” 
Flynn, on the other hand, is monosyllabic.  He is also remarkably talented at shouting.  He shouts for pure entertainment and he loves it when you shout with him -- and, yes, I like to shout with him because I also find it incredibly entertaining.  In the morning Flynn shouts from his crib like a rooster crows to the morning sun, “Papa!  Papa!  Papa!” on and on until someone finally comes to release him from his crib of captivity.  Margot is always awake as well, but she lets Flynn summon “the help.”

I’m not worried that they aren’t talking yet.  They have an older sister who does all the talking for them and for everyone else in whatever room she’s in at the time.  And of course they hear Spanish more hours than they hear English for five days a week and I’m sure they are still trying to sort that out in their little heads too.  I wondered if maybe they were talking to Mari in Spanish and I’m was just missing out, but Mari confirmed that, no, they are using the same words with her that they use with me.

But I am impatient.  I want them to start talking so that I can start talking to them.  I want to hear what they’re thinking, what they have to say. 

Last weekend, on the way from Port Angeles to SeaTac to fly home with all three kids and my mom (who was flying down to help me get the kids home after a month at "Camp Grandma and Grandpa" and then flying right back) Cornelia was as usual chatting from the back seat for nearly the entire trip, asking questions in her usual stream-of-consciousness way, making declaratory statements about whatever she was observing at the time, and singing to fill in any otherwise lulls in the conversation.  Now, I love chatting with Cornelia and I take it as a personal challenge to answer any and all questions she asks as best as I can - which of course only encourages even more questions.  (This morning on the way to school she asked if bats come from eggs.  We looked it up on my phone at the train stop.  They don’t.  They’re mammals.)  After nearly two hours of this banter I said to my mom (rhetorically), “What am I going to do when there are three of them talking to me from the backseat?” 

Actually, I’m ready for it.  I’m more than ready for it.  Flynn and Margot, I’m ready to hear from you.  Someday, a dozen or so years from now, maybe not so much; but today, I really want to hear what you have to say.  I’m waiting, impatiently.

"Hmmm . . . . what does this do?"

"So, if I just squeeze this part here . . .?"
"Hey, what the . . .?!!"

"So, what does this do again?"