December 21, 2010

The Sky is Blue, and Other Commonly Known Facts

I just realized I've been writing a lot about Ellie lately. I can't help it. She's at such a great, sweet age and provides such great material. Mundane words like "toilet" and "sleepy" sound like an exotic language when she uses them, and she says so many cute, hilarious things, like her rendition of the Grinch, that I can't keep track of them all. I don't know what your experience has been, but I think that whoever came up with the term "Terrible Twos" may have jumped the gun a little bit. At our house so far, it's been more like the "Terrible Threes", or at least that's what we experienced with Ellie's big brother. I sincerely pray Ellie doesn't follow suit and that she skips right over the terribles. It could happen, right? RIGHT?

A few nights ago, after a busy weekend in which we celebrated Christmas with my wife's family, complete with wall to wall sugar-amped cousins and general lack of sleep for everyone, we were trying to get the kids to bed and back into the normal routine. Bedtime was interesting, to say the least, and it took a record 2.5 hours to complete, from clean-up time until the last kid gave up the fight. Ellie was that last kid.

We thought she was asleep until we heard a little soft crying from her room. Then she belted out her trademark "I'm ticked off and need another hug" yell at full volume. "DAAAADDDEEEEEEEE!!!!!" Typing it doesn't do it justice, believe me. It's simultaneously chilling and hilarious. Worried that she'd wake up one of the boys, who we'd just gotten to sleep, I rushed into her room, expecting her to be crying and upset from a bad dream or a hangnail. I should have known better.

There she sat, holding her princess dolly under one arm and her pink blankie under the other while sucking her thumb, looking very tired but very pleased with herself that I'd taken the bait. "Hi, daddy!", she said brightly. Quite the little actor, my daughter.

She held out her arms for that hug. She's a snuggler, so when she gives a hug, she just melts into you. It's pretty great. I held her for a minute, then, getting ready to lay her back down, said, "I love you, sweetie-pie". Drifting toward sleep, she simply replied "Yeah.", and snuggled closer. She said it in the same way you'd agree any simple statement of fact, anything you take for granted, like "the sky is blue", or "Riley's diaper stinks". It struck me how secure a feeling that is, to know with childlike faith and certainty that something is true, without a sliver of doubt. My daddy loves me. This is true.

We do our best as parents, but let's be honest; we don't know what we're doing roughly half of the time. I still haven't gotten my copy of that Child Maintenance Manual they promised me when my kids were born; they tell me it's on back-order. Therefore, I doubt and second-guess myself on a regular basis, so it's supremely gratifying to know that whatever my mistakes, my kids know they're loved. I hear that girls' lives get just a bit more complicated as they get older. If you've had or have ever been a teenage girl, you probably have an idea of what I'm talking about, so I'm glad Ellie knows that some things are constant.

The sky is blue, and my daddy loves me.

December 17, 2010

How The ***** Stole Christmas, Part 2: The Movie

Previously on The Used Diaper Salesman, we heard about Ellie's dislike for the Grinch, whom she calls "The Binch", because "He scaaary." Let's be honest; who isn't a little freaked out by the guy's great green grin and the way he slinks around Who-ville in the dead of night. And furthermore, who isn't horrified by the way he abuses animals? If there were a "Most Horrifying Abuse of Animals" award, this guy could give Michael Vick a run for his money. I'm surprised PETA doesn't lobby for the show to be kicked off the Christmastime airwaves permanently, given the way the Grinch abuses his dog Max with whips and reindeer antlers and his graphic carving of the roast beast at the end. That's the part at which vegans everywhere cover their children's eyes, no doubt. Such an offensive show to so many, but somehow, I still manage to enjoy it.

If you'll recall, when Ellie says "Grinch", it comes out as "Binch", but usually rhymes with "witch", if you catch my meaning. She doesn't like the scary Grinch in the TV special, but she loves the stuffed Grinch doll we dug out for her last night, as you'll see in the video below. This video was an attempt to capture evidence for posterity of Ellie saying her usual, "No my like the B****." so we could show it at her wedding someday, but what we got was even better. You'll see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (A.K.A. big brother Brady) swoop in and nab the Grinch doll just as Ellie is about to give it a hug, and hilarity ensues. Turn up your volume and enjoy.

Merry Christmas!

December 9, 2010

How The ***** Stole Christmas

Holiday TV specials are the best, aren't they?

We all love the classics - Frosty the Snowman, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph - all great. This is probably due to the fact that they recall fond childhood memories of watching them with family while enjoying popcorn and hot chocolate after hours of gleefully freezing at the bottom of a snow fort. They're memories of an uncomplicated time in which few of life's worries had yet made an appearance, so we treasure them, more so for the quality time than for the shows themselves.

This time of year is a great one to be a kid, with The Muppets on TV and hot chocolate warming your hands. Your biggest holiday season worry is whether or not the Ninja Turtle or Little Molly Wets-a-Lot doll you desperately want is in one of those brightly-wrapped packages under the tree. You have no clue of what a mortgage payment is or that mom and dad decided to skip buying presents for each other so that they could afford those gifts for you and your siblings, that they prefer seeing the look on your face when you shred the wrapping paper to anything they want for themselves. Ignorance can truly be blissful. I know this from experience, because I now have an intimate relationship with my mortgage.

The new batch of Christmas specials is a mockery of the word. Special, they are not. They all star washed-up stars from the eighties. They try to be cool and current, but at Christmas, we don't want current, we don't want Rob Lowe, we want tradition. My (least) favorite new clunker is called "The Santa Incident", in which National Security agents mistake Santa for a UFO and shoot him out of the sky, and it's up to a couple of plucky kids to help him get back to the North Pole and save Christmas. People actually get paid to write this stuff. I'm thinking I should steer my kids into this career path, because they wouldn't have to wait until after school to start a career. They could write better stuff at their current ages. And as a bonus, they don't even know who Rob Lowe is, so they won't cast him in the lead, carving the roast beast. No, we stick to the classics at our house.

All except Ellie, apparently. She's got a grudge against the Grinch, and she ain't afraid to say it.

"No my like the Binch," she says. "He scaaary." But when she says it, "Binch" usually comes out rhyming with "witch", so we have to be careful of who's around when we talk about him. Not surprising coming from a kid who already likes to swear, I guess. She even looks like little Cindy Lou Who, complete with big blue eyes and pretty blond curls, and like Cindy Lou, is no more than two. Old enough to know a thing or two about Binches, but young enough to still need a midnight drink of water. She sits on my lap when we watch that one, just to be safe, which is just fine by me.

So don't be a Binch this Christmas, or I'll have Ellie come and have a talk with you. Enjoy some quality time with people you like and be nice to the ones you don't. Remember what you're celebrating.

Merry Christmas!