Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Curious Case Of Jimi Hendrix's Flying Honeybee Eyeball

NJ's been pretty moody lately -- The Wife put a comment on Facebook the other day lamenting the Terrible Twos and got a whole bunch of sympathetic responses (and warnings that the Threes could likely be even more Terrible ... so there's that) -- so we're doing what we can to tamp that stuff down without going whole-hog on the spoiling and caving in to every demand and whim. Sometimes it works; she seems to (finally) get the idea behind "just one more," for example.

But now it's really hit home for me how my actions can influence the course of events.

A few days ago I bought NJ the awesomest long-sleeved t-shirt ever, thanks to a discount at one of my favorite haberdashers. What 23-month-old wouldn't want to give major props to the man who taught the world how to play guitar? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you NJ and Mr. Chuck Berry:

"Daddy, I'm not going onstage until I have every dollar of my money, in cash, in a briefcase or even a dang paper bag. Otherwise, you gotta go out there and tell those kids there ain't gonna be no show tonight."
And, since I was already on the website, I figured I'd get a nice little something for myself, too. I had a discount, after all, but more importantly: I deserved it. So I did.

A couple of days ago NJ was on a real tear -- happy one minute, ticked off the next, then wailing, then laughing and crying simultaneously, the whole bit. Finally it was bath time and as usual I scooped her up to get her undressed and ready for the March of the Towel-Carrying Naked Baby down the hall to the tub. She'd been clinging to Mommy a bit, and as I put her on the changing table her cries for The Wife got louder and more insistent. Then she ratcheted things up to desperate. I laid her down and noticed she was looking at my belly with a heady mixture of fear, uncertainty and dread. I tried to soothe her, but the stink-eye persisted. I know, NJ, I know -- I gotta drop a few pounds, I get it! I thought. Then, with a quiver in her voice, she spoke as she gestured at my stomach:


Bees are NJ's latest (and first, and only, as far as I know) scary fixation. The Wife started calling them "honeybees" in hopes of sweetening (ha!) bees' image with the kid. The PR effort has failed, at least up to now. Occasionally NJ will hesitate while playing outside because she saw a bee, or thought she saw a bee, or just associated flowers with bees and assumed bees were lurking.

But there were no bees in her room. What there was, though, was the new Wolfgang's Vault t-shirt I was wearing. It features this:

And the wind ... cries ... NJ
Yep, a tribute to the man who retaught the world how to play guitar (or tried to -- no one could keep up, really) frightened the dickens out of my kid. And it makes perfect sense that she'd associate this dodgy flying eyeball with another round, winged thing that can be scary.

Once I put two and two together -- and after I had a good chuckle while the kid lay uneasily on the changing table -- I pulled the shirt off, turned it inside-out and put it back on. And NJ's mood turned 180 degrees in a second: smiling, giggly, ready to continue our pre-bath rituals.

If it was me, I'd have been even more concerned that the flying eyeball was now inside my daddy's shirt, because just think of the chaos it could wreak there. But it wasn't me, it was her. And now I have to be sure to wear that shirt only when she's not around, or under a sweatshirt or something. Until she's old enough to appreciate Hendrix, of course. Perhaps her uncle will teach her to play "Purple Haze" one day and we can all head over to Capitol Hill, pay our respects and tell spooky stories about the Flying Honeybee Eyeball.

Maybe his eyes are closed because they flew away.
Now I'm looking over to the corner of my office, where a rolled-up poster is leaning against the printer table. Haven't gotten around to framing it or hanging up or anything, and now it's pretty clear that I won't be doing those things anytime soon. I guess it'll be safe to put it on the wall in, what -- fifteen years or so?

"It never got weird enough for me." -- Hunter S. Thompson

"It's too weird for me, Daddy." -- NJ

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Kid, With The Talking And The Speaking

Some new favorite phrases around the house:

"I don't like that."


"My _____!"

"NJ's ____!" (Although "NJ's Daddy" has a nice ring to it.)

"No, Daddy."

"I want to watch Wiggles/Yo Gabba Gabba now."

Oh, my. It's going to be a looooong ... what, 16 years?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shameless Blog Padding, Warholian Edition

Very few records make it through the production process with a complete lineup of stellar tracks. The Boss has done it, a couple of times; the Stones and the Clash have done it (and double-albums, no less -- very impressive!); The Band did it. Usually, though, there's a song or two of filler: U2, for example, has never issued an album that didn't have at least one ignorable track, including these two masterpieces. And even what many consider arguably the greatest rock record ever gets a little bogged down by "She's Leaving Home," a song that, while I appreciate it more than I used to now that I'm an old man, usually gets skipped when the iPod dials it up.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that this post is my "She's Leaving Home." But if you're a Dad Solo completist -- and OF COURSE YOU ARE! -- please forge ahead.

Andy Warhol. Never had much use for him, myself. He's one of The Wife's "Brush with Greatness" experiences (Manhattan street corner, a young assistant, a free copy of "Interview" magazine), and he gave the great Velvet Underground a platform -- these are two good things you can say about the man. On the other hand, he also made some truly unwatchable films (not even good, campy "bad" films that are fun to watch and riff on -- just terrible, excruciatingly awful films that can make you queasy) and that idiotic "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" ethos that's made Kim Kardashian and her ilk household names. And ... that hair. Oh, that hair.

Something I've come around on lately, though -- much like my aging heart now has a soft spot for Paul McCartney (of "She's Leaving Home" fame!) -- is Warhol's silkscreen works. I've grown to appreciate the DIY ethos, and the bright colors. And when you get tired of looking at portraits of Andy's celebrity pals, there's always a soup can, Coke bottle or automobile crash for a change of pace. Maybe Andy would have won me over sooner if he'd had a compelling subject. Like oh, say, this:

Take a hike, Edie.
Yes, thanks to the Warhol Museum, there's now an iPhone app that lets you "silkscreen" photos. And thanks to me, that app now resides on my cellphone. You can expect to see a lot more images of NJ rendered in vibrant, soul-enriching, life-affirming day-glo. You're welcome!

"In the future, everyone will be famous for as long as their doofus dads insist on chronicling their every move on the Internet."
As you can see, I need to work on my technique a bit -- these are rather crude silkscreens, at least compared to something as elaborate as this. But don't worry, dear reader -- I'll work on it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This Is Not How I Remember It From Before

The Wife's trip to Portland this past week was the first time I've had to take of NJ by myself for an extended period in quite some time. And in that time, her personality and abilities have grown exponentially. It was a completely new experience.

Here's a rough timeline of events. Times that are bolded are exact; italicized means an estimate.


4.45 p.m. -- I pick NJ up at day care. She doesn't seem to care that I'm not The Wife, who'd dropped her off that morning on her way to Portland. NJ doesn't rush to the door to greet me, though, as she sometimes does -- she's laying on a mat with a boy; she's playing with his feet, which are draped across her tummy. One of the teachers tells me that this boy has no source of income, no gainful employment, so I call NJ away from him and we leave. At the car, NJ says "Mommy at home?" I tell her no, and she wails. It doesn't last long, and soon we're driving home laughing and chatting and occasionally high-fiving.

What, me cry?
5.20 p.m. -- We pull up to the house. "Mommy inside?" NJ asks. I tell her no, and she wails. I hope the neighbors don't think I slapped her or something.

Inside, Mommy's absence is forgotten and we have a lovely time. After a hearty round of "Go to Bed" -- her current fave game, in which she puts two of her dolls to sleep in her crib and then joins them for a succession of 10-second naps -- NJ devours much of the hamburger patty with Provolone I make her, along with some pickle slices and quinoa. And a cookie, of course! NJ's bath is uneventful, other than me failing to keep her from repeatedly drinking bath water.

8 p.m. -- Hilarity ensues when I ask NJ if she's ready to "go to bed" and she cheerily replies "Yes!" She was thinking of "Go to Bed" and her smile fades to sour disappointment when I pulls the shades in her room instead of turning on the music. It was like one of those "Three's Company" episodes (all of them?) when Mr. Roper overhears Jack and Janet talking and thinks they're talking about sex when they actually were talking about getting their car serviced. NJ and I compromise -- I let her play a little "Go to Bed" and actually get out of the crib again for a little while, and she ... huh! I seem to have forgotten her side of the compromise. Anyway, at about 8.20 p.m. I try again and NJ's happy to settle down to sleep. I celebrate with a glass of wine and a couple of "Cheers" reruns.


2.34 a.m. -- This is why I'm doing exact and estimated times, because 2.34 a.m. is burned in my mind as if someone wrote 2.34 a.m. across it with an acid-tipped pen. This is when NJ's cries on the baby monitor woke me up. It was 2.34 a.m.

2.50 a.m. -- She's still at it, so I head downstairs. A diaper is changed, a rocking chair is utilized, but every time I move to put NJ back to bed, she squawks. So ...

3.30 a.m. -- I put a row of pillows where The Wife usually sleeps in our bed, plant NJ in next to it, then lay down myself on the remaining mattress real estate. She's not going back to sleep yet, but she's calm and cool and collected. I can't see the clock because of the pillows, but after a lengthy stretch, the kid's out.

5 a.m. -- Dad's still awake! I crane my head and check the clock when a sleeping NJ kicks a tiny foot into my ribcage.

6.30 a.m. -- The alarm goes off. I dozed enough that I can't claim I got no rest at all. NJ's a little grouchy, but generally OK. Ninety later I'm driving back home after taking her to day care.

I'll let you know when I'm ready to leave for day care, Daddy.
4.45 p.m. -- On the way to pick NJ up, I admire a cool, vintage motorcycle parked around the corner, even though I'm not a "motorcycle guy." (What I am, on this day, is a zombie after being up most of the night.) At day care, NJ's teacher tells me she didn't nap well because of coughing. The drive home is highlighted by a trip through the car wash, which amazes a wide-eyed NJ.

5.45 p.m. -- NJ asks if Mommy's home and, when informed that Mommy was still away, crying commences. Once we're inside and NJ sees I'm not lying, crying becomes wailing, and "wailing" becomes the Theme of the Evening. Literally, the worst I've ever seen her. NJ wails through play time, dinner, bath (it was shampoo night, never a picnic under the cheeriest of circumstances), post-bath play time, and bedtime. A list of things that upset NJ greatly during this period includes (but isn't limited to):
  • Daddy asking for one of her many Cheddar Bunnies (not taking one, mind you, but asking);
  • Her sippy cup;
  • Getting ready for her bath;
  • Being placed in the bath;
  • Being asked repeatedly to sit down in the bath;
  • Getting her hair wet;
  • Getting her hair shampooed;
  • Getting her hair rinsed;
  • Being asked to get out of the tub;
  • Being presented with the wrong book during post-bath Reading Time;
  • Learning that it absolutely, positively is time to go to bed.
8 p.m. -- I walk out of her room, and within 20 seconds NJ has stopped wailing. She doesn't peep again for the rest of the evening. I eat some well-deserved ice cream.


1.30 a.m. -- The roar of what sounds like a vintage motorcycle engine wakes me. It starts up and immediately dies. Whoever's trying to start this engine spends the next 20 minutes revving, or trying to rev, it. There is time for tinkering, then more attempts, and finally the thing starts. Then there's a good five minutes of roaring engine noise, as if someone was hot-rodding a vintage motorcycle up and down the street. During this 45-minute ordeal, not one sound emits from the baby monitor.

6.30 a.m. -- I walk into NJ's room and she's already awake, and ... laughing? Laughing! "Mommy's gone," she says, smiling. A good night's sleep is key to acceptance of bad news, apparently -- a fresher perspective and all that. She smiles and giggles through breakfast and eventually marches into day care with a determined jaunt. I must have pinched myself five times during this period.

10 a.m. -- The Wife calls to say she'll be home early today. I perform a celebratory dance in the basement.

Now NJ's got a little fever, so if she was coming down with something that certainly explains her wild behavior. I'm just glad The Wife's back. This morning, I didn't even hear it when NJ woke up at 3 a.m.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

... As Easy To Learn As Your ABCs

Who doesn't love giggly, funny-voiced childishness?

The kid's good, too.

This El Emenopee character sounds a little sketchy. He was one of Don Quixote's arch-rivals, right?