Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dads cry about dumb stuff.

It was a Wednesday morning.  I took Coco to school as usual.  We left the house at our normal time, just after Mari arrived at 8:00 a.m.  We walked to the Muni stop at Church and Market streets playing "don't step on the cracks" and then we waited for the J Church and played "I spy with my little eye".  Coco talked to the birds.  We rode the train to 22nd and Church and walked the remaining several blocks to school, chatting along the way about whatever popped into Coco’s mind.  At school, Coco pressed the code on the key pad to unlock the doors.  Inside, I tucked her Frozen lunch box and her Frozen thermos into her cubby and signed the morning check-in sheet on the clipboard by the door.  I was out the door within a few minutes and on my way to catch the J Church back to downtown.  It was 8:45 a.m.

And then it happened.  I was only a few steps out the school doors when the tears started welling up.  "Seriously?  It's not even her last day of preschool.  It's her second-to-last day of preschool.  And your crying about it now?"

Ken warned me this might happen.  Just the week before, he had arrived at school to pick Coco up and came in just as she and her five-year-old classmates were practicing the good-bye song they would sing at the year-end cultural celebration and preschool graduation party.  Ken texted me later and confessed that he had broken into tears right there in the classroom.

These weren’t my first daddy tears.  Before Ken and I flew to India to pick up Margot and Flynn after they were born, I flew with Coco to Atlanta so that she could stay with her Grandma Connie and
Grandpa Roy while we were away.  Coco was not quite two-and-a-half.  On the way back to the airport with Connie and Roy, sitting in the backseat with Coco, I was feeling anxious about leaving her for so long.  When we got to the airport and I got out of the car, Coco cried, wailed and downright screamed for me not to leave her.  I gritted my teeth, told her I loved her, kissed her and waved good-bye and then walked into the airport.  Once inside I totally lost it.  And I mean "Capital L, Capital I" lost it.  Burst into tears.  It took several minutes just to pull myself together.  (Connie and Roy called me just a short while later to tell me that Coco was enjoying ice cream and playing at the McDonald’s Playland.)

First Day of Preschool
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
So, here I was, having just dropped Coco off for her second-to-last day of preschool and I was boo-hoo’ing as I walked to the train.  For nearly three years I had taken Coco to school and picked her up twice a week.  We took the 24 bus together for the first year and then, when the school moved, the J Church train.  For the first two years she rode on my shoulders a lot until she got too big for long shoulder rides and big enough to run to catch the train if we were late.  In the mornings we would decide whether to walk on the sunny side of the street or the shady side.  (She knows I like the shady side.)  On the way home we would window-shop, always stopping at the window of the toy store on 24th street. When it closed about six months ago we decided it should re-open as a jelly bean store.  (It didn’t.)  Waiting for the train we would watch the karate class at the corner of 24th and Church and then play "I spy with my little eye."  Once, on the way home, we were caught in a rainstorm that was so torrential we had to stop and take cover in a doorway; she still talks about that night.

Last Day of Preschool
Friday, July 1, 2016
Every day, both coming and going to school, she practiced balancing along a curb that ran the length of one side Duboce park.  When she was two-and-a-half she couldn't do it very well, stepping off the curb at least a few times.  Now she runs the entire length.   

Although a lot of things have changed and she's grown up a lot in the past three years, she never stopped holding my hand on our way to school and on our way home.  That was the best part.  The holding hands.  That’s the part I’ll remember.

Okay, now I'm going to lose it again . . .

Next month Flynn and Margot start pre-school and I get to start all over with them.  Who knows.  Maybe we'll get that jelly bean store yet.


 Preschool Graduation
Friday, June 24, 2016
Coco and Daddy
Last Day of Preschool / Riding the J Church


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dear Margot

Dear Margot,

You’re nearly three years old now and anxiously awaiting your birthday.  When asked, “How old are you?”, you quickly answer, “Dos and half!” (mixing your Spanish and English), and you know your birthday is in August (although you don’t know when that is, exactly).  Your favorite song right now is the “Happy Birthday” song.  It’s almost always your choice for your bedtime song. 

As you’re coming up on your third birthday, here are a few things your future-self might like to know about your nearly-three-year-old self.

So top-of-mind for Daddy and Papa is that you’re not a good sleeper.  At.  All.  There are a good number of afternoons when you won’t take a nap and when you do it’s often pretty short.  You’re up in the middle of the night nearly every night at least once and most nights more than once.  Sometimes we hear you stirring in bed and can intercept you before you get out of bed or out of your room, but sometimes you make it to Daddy and Papa’s room before we can intercept you.  Fortunately, most nights you are easily deposited back into bed and go right back to sleep.  However, every once in a while you are up multiple times and won’t stay in bed.  On those nights Daddy or Papa end up sleeping in your bed with you.  Despite the lack of naps and the nights of interrupted sleep, you’re almost always the first one out of bed in the morning –getting up at 5:45 a.m. almost like clockwork. 

Basically, when it comes to sleeping and eating, you and your brother are opposites: you’re a bad sleeper but a good eater; he’s a bad eater but a good sleeper. 

For a nearly-three-year-old, you’re remarkably tidy and organized.  You get quite upset when something gets spilled, like milk at the dinner table, for example, and you’re happy to help clean up these sorts of messes.  You’re so organized that on Easter morning, after the frenzy of pawing through the Easter baskets died down, you started organizing your basket to make sure all the jellybeans were put back into the plastic eggs.

You want your food to be tidy too and get quite upset when it falls apart.  Now, think for a minute about all the food items that can and do fall apart, crumble or break while eating them – crackers, biscuits, bananas and hamburgers, for example. “Broken!  Broken!” you cry, sometimes frustrated nearly to the point of tears.  It will be quite some time before tacos will be a dinner option in our house. 

One evening a month or so ago you, your sister and your brother were watering the plants on the back deck.  Because this was an unplanned watering activity we didn’t have a watering can so you all were using your little drinking cups from the bathroom.  Each of you filled your cup in the bathroom sink, carried it through the TV room to the deck, and then delivered it to the plants in your own way.  Your brother, of course, ran to and fro, spilling a lot of his water along the way, and throwing the remaining water in the general direction of the plants before turning and running back for more.  Your sister watered the plants while explaining exactly how she was doing it, like she was delivering a DIY segment on Home & Family.  You, on the other hand, walked carefully with your cup of water from the bathroom to the deck, making sure not to spill it, and then when you reached the strawberries you dipped each strawberry into your cup of water so that each one got a tiny sip of water.

You like checklists.  In the morning you like to confirm everyone’s plans for the day while counting them off on your fingers. “Papa, work.  Daddy, work.  Coco, school.  Me, park.  Flynny, park.”  After dinner you like to confirm who is getting a treat and who is not.  “Me, treat.  Coco, treat.  Flynny, no treat.”  (because Flynn never eats his dinner).  You also like to confirm the post-dinnertime schedule, counting off on your fingers, “Jamas, TV, treat, brush teeth.” 

At bedtime everyone gets to pick a bedtime song.  Your favorite right now is “Happy Birthday.”  Other recent favorites have been “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and the ABC song.  Every night you take to bed with you your baby doll, Donkey and Sheep.  Your favorite show right now is Peppa Pig (you’re actually a bit obsessed), which recently eclipsed Dora the Explorer.

You have a gentle nature.  When I roughhouse with you and your brother and sister, playing Big Bad Octopus or Monsters, sometimes you prefer not to play. “Not me!  Not me, Daddy!” or “No meany monster, Daddy.  Nice monster.” you’ll sometimes say.  You do your own thing in other ways too.  On a recent excursion to the park, Coco and Flynn put on their fairy outfits while you put on your Doc McStuffins’ white lab coat.  And, when you, Coco and Flynn play Frozen, Coco and Flynn always want to be Elsa while you choose Anna. 
I’m glad you choose Anna.  Anna is fearless, determined and loyal.  I hope you grow up to be all those things and more.