You’re throwing out my best work!

I knew it would catch up to me sometime. Honestly I thought it would be him to catch me and not her. She just seemed so indifferent about it all anyway. I really didn’t think she’d care. She never showed much interest at all as far as I could tell. So her reaction was a little surprising.

No matter. The deed was done and I was caught red handed. Not much to say at this point. Her reaction is really the least of the concerns. It’s a trust issue now. The sideways glances and the constant wondering will be my punishment.

Funny really, it’s been going on for some time, a few years at least. But it’s the same old story. I got complacent, got lazy, too comfortable. Let my guard down and I got busted plain and simple. Obviously the relationship will never be the same. My only hope is she’s not damaged from this.

I can tell you it will be a moment I will never forget. The sadness on her face, the slumped shoulders and that phrase that keeps replaying in my mind over and over and over again. “Daddy! You’re throwing out my best work!”

I’m not sure what was worse, the tears welling up in her eyes as if to say How could you do that? Or her feeble attempt to rescue some of her work from the trash, clutching it like a strung out former Disney artist trying to get past the gate guard with some sketches she did on a cocktail napkin, hoping for one last shot.

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This one is safe!

Yeah I’m not proud of throwing out her completed school work. And I owe an apology to her teacher Mrs Givens and her pre-school teachers. They put in the work to get AM to this point. But really, if I’m being honest, I’m more disappointed I got caught.

You know it’s really just a pragmatic thing. Where the hell are we supposed to store every macaroni art or penmanship paper with upper and lower case Ks written on them? Well? Where do you keep it all? You know you’re glad it was me and not you. You all are secretly agreeing with me as you publicly judge.

Look it’s not like she’s dropping the first act of Othello or something. She had to pick four words that started with the letter K and then draw each word. One of the words she picked was Kind. Kind! I asked her how in the world was she was going to draw Kind. Well, screw me cause she did it. And it was good. So yeah it was a great effort, and vitally important to her development. But lets not get crazy, they aren’t clearing room on the roof of the Sistine Chapel for it.

But for the next few days, after she came home from school, she glanced in the kitchen trash can before putting up her backpack. I know it’s not funny but it made me laugh for some reason. Yeah, I’m a chooch. That ain’t exactly breaking news.

So now I burn them in the fire pit.

Haha just kidding. No really, now we have storage boxes, unused, pure as the driven snow, kept as secure as any repository could be, to preserve her works of art and penmanship. I’m now reformed and a new mission has risen from the trash heap as it were.

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Treasures

When we move from this house or I go to the eternal dirt nap that comes for us all, very large trucks will deliver all the boxes that will have kept me from having my own man cave. In my dream, the trucks drive in formation while some weird old time show tune plays in the background.

They pull up to wherever Anne Marie is living, preferably a 3rd floor walk up in Manhattan. The drivers, festooned in the garb of their profession, will move quickly and quietly in perfect unison, much like the Marine Corp Silent Drill Team.

And if there is a God in heaven, the first boxes will break the plane of Anne Marie’s apartment threshold just as her five year old is blasting her for 86ing that newly created Rembrandt, crafted on finger paint day.

The first box will have a note on top that will simply read, “AM: This is why.” And in that moment, as box after box parades into her living space to the back hallway between the kitchen and the guest can, a revelation. A true moment of self reflection in which my little Anne Marie, all grown up with Anne Marie’s of her own, will say the same thing I say now about my old man: The older I get the smarter he gets.

Twas ever thus.

 

“I want to be called Francis”

So we’ve entered a phase. It might be our first one come to think of it. I’m not sure what to name it, or if it even has a name. I do know I need to be recording Frank every second of the day right now. Some of the stuff coming out of his mouth is just unbelievable.

He’s been making a lot of declarations about what he will and will no longer be doing. Hard to explain so here’s the first example.

When we go to The Kroger, the bakery usually has a bin of free cookies out. Our routine is simple, we go for the cookies when we start our final run on the back wall in the dairy section. That takes us past the eggs, butter, cheese and sends us right into the meats and then the bakery. The on to the hippie section (read: organic) for the milk and veggies and then to the check out. By then he’s done the cookie and he gets to work putting the cart stuff on the belt.

So the other day we roll up on paper towel aisle, our last dry goods stop before we bank hard right to dairy, and I realize he has not mentioned the cookies once. Normally he’ll make my ears bleed about how close we’re getting to the cookies. A little running commentary about our cookie proximity that would make a normal man throw himself into on coming traffic. But I’ve become more powerful since Anne Marie has made the scene, so I can repel his annoying. But the silence, the silence about the cookie is now front and center in my head. If Obi Wan Kenobi were here he’d call me a weak minded fool. What’s his angle? Is he gonna work me for ice cream instead? This boy plottin on me somehow someway.

We get to the bakery and the moment of truth has arrived. I reach for his allotment and out it comes. “I will not be having Kroger cookies anymore.” Uh wut? ” I don’t need them daddy.” No one needs cookies Frank. Cookies are never about need. Cookies, much like the pumpkin spice doughnuts that come out at Thanksgiving, are all about want. “Well I don’t want it daddy.” Well OK then Frank, but I’m having one.

The problem was I had already picked up two. Then I remembered the hobos grab three or four and sometime drop one back in. So I dropped one back in the bin. Problem solved. Tip for you Kroger shoppers, never take the weekend cookies. Only the weekday cookies are generally untouched. You’re welcome.

About a day later the big enchilada dropped.

I was summoned to the bedroom where my oldest child was sitting in a very serious manner with a very serious look on his face. His mother had a rye smile. I was entering a mine field of which there would be no safe passage. Well no point in tap dancing. Let’s get to it. “What’s up Frank?”

“I don’t want to be called Frank anymore.”

Oh shit. My first thought was he’s on some kind of cosmic self awareness journey. He’s been acting strange. He’s on some minimalist bent. No cookies at The Kroger, wouldn’t pick any toys from the toy store after a bit of a harrowing doc appointment because he said “I don’t need it.” and now a name change. My hope was we wouldn’t have to call him moon unit or just some sort of crazy symbol. Then I thought maybe he wants to go by Oso or Lambie or Rocket or Deputy Peck or some other character from Disney Jr.

“I want to be called Francis.”

Oh.

Turned five - went bonkers. Note the minimalist cake.

Turned five – went bonkers. Note the minimalist cake.

Well that is his legal name. The first born male in an Italian family is named for his grandfather. My grandfather’s name was James so my oldest brother’s name is James. My dad’s name is Francis and goes by Frank, so my son’s name is Francis and we call him Frank. This wold not be a big shift to call him Francis. Or so I thought.

I tried it out a few times. It felt weird. Now I’m thinking he’ll get over it before bedtime so just go with it. “OK Frank, it’s your name and you…” “It’s Francis.” “What?” “It’s Francis daddy, you called me Frank.” “Sorry bud OK, Francis. Like I said, it’s your name and you have the right to be called by your name. Francis it is!”

He seemed happy.

Mrs Frank’s Place on the other hand…

There is a reason we call him Frank. Tracy doesn’t like the name Francis very much. It happens to be my name and I go by that. I’m not Frank or Franny or Michael, my middle name, I have always gone by Francis. So while Tracy was assaulting my entire heritage, Frank or Francis, was happy with his name change. No idea what’s spawning all this but we were both hoping he’d get over it after a few minutes.

Took two days. He corrected us every time we called him Frank for the next two days. Then it went the way of the Dodo.

He’s back to Frank. For now.

If you see him in the next few months and he’s wearing Jedi robes and goes by the name Knarf O’dranil, remember you’ve been warned.

 

 

 

 

 

Look out people, she’s a free range chicken!

Well the day has finally arrived. The last tether has been severed. She has been released into the wild, free to roam in her natural habitat. All public service warnings have been issued.

Anne Marie is done with therapy in every shape and every form. She was officially released from her last in home therapy a few months ago. I would have posted this earlier but I was busy with getting pink eye, Frank’s pre-school graduation, Frank’s birthday, upcoming vacation to Jersey, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Yeah I'm two fisting ice cream. What of it!

Yeah I’m two fisting ice cream. What of it!

As with all things Anne Marie, nothing is ever smooth. There were questions from several quarters about her readiness to enter mainstream kid-dom. Although our evidence is anecdotal, we think it’s valid enough to warrant her release.

Well, let’s see now, there was:

-building a ladder to jump the baby gate on the stairs at 18 months

-using scissors to pry open the fridge

-climbing out of her crib at the age of 22 months

-opening doors at the age of 22 months

-climbing the outside of the stairs using the balusters as hand holds at 20 months

-turning on my iPhone and sending garbled tweets through the twitter app

-setting Frank’s alarm clock to go off in the middle of the morning/night

-asking me to “microwave my pizza daddy”  That was a few weeks ago.

-taking off all her clothes, including her diaper, and then putting just her PJs back on and sleeping the rest of the night that way. We didn’t catch that one until we went in to wake her for breakfast one morning. Oh yeah, she tossed her under shirt and diaper into the clothes hamper 4 feet from her crib. Not sure if she did that before or after putting her PJs back on.

-and of course the latest incident of clogging the upstairs sink and flooding the house. Yes, after further investigation we believe it was intentional.

For you fine motor skill enthusiasts, she took the pegs from a peg board test at the doctor’s office and stacked them like a tower. She finished the test first and while I was talking to the doc she decided to stack them straight up, 4 pegs high. These things are the width of a pencil.

We were feeling pretty confident the Doc would agree we no longer needed therapy for the kid. The rest of us need it now, and I’ll surely need it in the future, but the kid is fine. After we presented our evidence the Doc did agree and AM’s release was official.

So with a bitter sweet feeling we say good bye to therapy and our last in home visitor, Maria. As with Kelly Ann and Liz before, Maria was an integral part of Anne Marie achieving so much so soon.

The one positive of Maria and Liz not coming to the house anymore, besides Anne Marie having made so much progress, I don’t have to clean it as much. Less work is always a bonus. Thank God they never knew we lived like animals most of the week and got it together for their visits.

Thanks Maria, you have been and will be missed.

Onward! Pre-school dead ahead!

Onward! Pre-school dead ahead!