Harper in action.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cracker Snacker

Most of us don’t ponder how to eat a pack of Ritz crackers. The process is fairly self-evident. But how did we acquire this knowledge? If you’ve never encountered Ritz crackers, or plastic packaging of any kind for that matter, how would you try to get them out? Oh yeah, and you’re 16 months old so you don’t know anything.

You may have guessed that these are not rhetorical questions. Yesterday, McCall was showing me some pictures she’d taken of Harper (for a posting to be determined at a later date), and Harper slipped away to our bedroom. Alright, she walked right past us on her way to our bedroom.

After we finished looking at the photos, McCall decided to track down Harper. About 20 seconds later, she called out to me.

“Kyle!”

When you’re married, you can communicate a lot simply in how you vocalize your spouse's name. In the same way that Eskimos have four million words for snow, my wife has about 40 recognized meanings for "Kyle".

Kyle. - I’m about to ask you for something I know you don’t want to do.

Kyle?? - Is that you or a serial killer?

Kyle!!! - Harper just pooped.

This one was a little more complex. The overall message was “Get in here quickly,” but there were heavy overtones of “I need your help,” with just a dash of “You’ve got to see this.”

A few steps short of our bedroom door, McCall had heard a distinctive crackling. The visual confirmed her mental image. Harper had the Ritz crackers on our bed.

Obviously this begs the question, “Why are there Ritz crackers by your bed?” Obviously, the answer is "None of your business."

In order to preserve the scene of the crime, McCall had not altered it in any way. Harper was chewing through the wrapping trying to eat the roll of crackers like an ear of corn. All around her lay a steadily mounting pile of Ritz crumbs.

Immediately, I took them from her and started snacking while I pondered my next move. I determined to get the dust buster and vacuum the bed. McCall stayed with Harper. When I returned to our boudoir, Black & Decker in hand, Harper was crawling around on our bed trying to gobble up the bigger pieces.

As soon as I powered up the 'buster (as I like to call it), Harper jumped down off the bed and ran away in fear. In fact, the only traces remaining of her were the slobber marks she left all over our bed sheet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Harper's Tiny Tickle Dot

Harper Jo is very attached to McCall. It has only been recently that she will allow me to comfort her instead of McCall. I guess we're all pretty attached to our mothers and especially in childhood I think we feel more connected to Mom. Some of this may come out of the "natural order" in which matriarchs are caregivers while patriarchs are lawgivers. It is only after much maturation that we realize the importance of the steadfast instruction of our fathers.

Harper loves her mommy very much. Almost as much as the original point of contact between them. That's right. I'm talking about her belly button. That physical mark we all bear that, to some degree, defines our human-ness. The one thing we all have in common, the one scar we all bear. Reminding us that we were brought forth through great difficulty, and pain, but also with great love, and joy.

For Harper, though, the it's become an obsession. She touches her own belly button constantly. She doesn't suck her thumb, so belly button pushing has become her default method of self soothing. It's also very important to her that others see her belly button. She loves pulling up her shirt and showing it to people.

She also loves to see and touch ours as well. If she ever sees my or McCall's belly button she wants to poke it. I even make sound effects whenever she pushes mine which always draws much delight and giggles.

It is to the point now where we have to consider her belly button when we dress her. Dresses and onesies are more difficult now because she may melt down if she can't get to her bebo. See, it's not enough for her to touch it through clothes, it has to be direct contact. We even cut the bottoms off some of her onesies so she could get to it.

From where did this obsession come? Tiny the Dog. Who is Tiny the Dog? That's a bit more complicated. Tiny the Dog is an interactive stuffed animal (complete with glowing belly button) that comes with an educational DVD. The DVD contains all kinds of scenes designed to help babies and toddlers learn about colors, shapes, and object permanence. During the video, the characters on screen talk and Tiny the Dog responds.

In the middle of the program, the characters all sing a song together. The lyrics are as follows:
Belly button, belly button/When you touch it great things happen.
It's my tiny tickle dot/Hee hee hee, that's the spot.

Harper is now convinced that touching her belly button will cause great things to happen. Which I guess is accurate to some degree. When she touches her belly button she stops crying so that IS great.

But sometimes I wonder about the long-term effects. Can she suffer from belly button chafing? Will this practice encourage early lint build up? Can she actually poke through into her belly?

All things considered, I guess it's not really a very big deal. It could be a lot worse. She could have a compulsive need to put her middle finger up her nose. That would be so bad.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Flashback

Becoming a parent changes you so dramatically, so completely, and without warning. It's the ultimate guerrilla assault. It's like hearing that in two minutes your house will explode. And it's not that it happens around you. It happens to you, at you, and through you.

This is so true I think differently of people with kids now. We live in a neighborhood with a lot of crime. It's called Los Angeles. So there's kind of a natural level of "on guardedness" that everybody carries. Plus you never know when you might be walking down the street and Steven Spielberg sees you and decides to put you in his next picture and you become rich and famous and win an Oscar, and marry Brad Pitt. He's so dreamy!

But I digress...

A lot of dudes walk around looking all hard and stuff like they're all angry and don't mess with them. But if they have a kid with them, I know they don't mean it. They got too much to lose.

Harper Jo is 16 months old now so I have no personal memory of what she's experiencing. So with things like walking, talking, learning to eat, sort, stack, I'm watching her master these skills somewhat vicariously. I envision myself as a toddler learning in these same ways. I picture my parents chasing me like we do Harper. And I wonder if they chased me in as much frustration as I do Harper. I can't imagine they muttered much of what I do. I don't say "so and so", I say what "so and so" means.

But when she turns three I'm going to stop creating fabricated memories and start comparing actual memories. How is her fourth year similar or dissimilar to my own? I may write a disertation. No I won't. Because I can't even spell dissertation. Oh wait. I guess I can. That's pretty cool.

Anyway...

I think it's going to be kind of weird to compare my faded and photocopied facsimile recollections of really being five years old to my clear, original third-person impressions of virtually being five years old. But so far it's been really fun to see her begin to enjoy things that I enjoyed so much. She loves climbing, and exploring, and laughing. I pray that she never stops doing any of the three.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Mine!

This has become one of Harper's favorite words. It is also an example of the only real drawback of daycare. Peer influence. Before daycare, Harper lived in a controlled environment. If I threw a napkin in the garbage from four feet away (or ten feet if I'm shooting a three pointer), and then I see Harper throw a toy similarly, I know why that's happening. Now she can pick up bad habits and I don't know from whom she's getting it. I just know it happened at daycare.

We've started to talk about daycare like it's this vortex we deliver our daughter to each morning and from which we retrieve her each afternoon. What happens at daycare stays at daycare. If Harper comes home in different shoes than she had on in the morning, there's no sense trying to understand. It happened at daycare (thunder crashes).

"Hey, Harper lost an earring, do you know where it is?"
"No idea. It happened at daycare." THUNDER!

"She wasn't wearing this t-shirt when I dropped her off."
"Forget it, McCall, it's daycare." THUNDER!

"Don't we have a girl?" THUNDER

So when Harper recently picked up the "mine" bug, it was senseless to try and identify a culprit. First off, what am I going to do? Confront the poor kid's parents?

"Hey, your kid's been teaching my kid stuff. Tell him to knock it off, Harper knows enough already!"

Besides, I'm horrified to think what Harper might be teaching the other kids. I cringe at the reverse confrontation.

"Um, your little girl showed my little girl how to climb up on top of, well, everything. The funeral will be this Thursday."

But honestly, the whole "mine" thing is a bit annoying, isn't it? Try to take anything away from Harper and she recoils guarding the item covetously while blaring, "Mine, mine, mine, mine..." I think the only reason she doesn't say anything else is because she can't say "precious" yet.


Mine!


Plus, she says it about everything. If she grabs my cell phone off the table, and I try to get it back from her...mine, mine, mine, mine. There goes mommy's shoe. Can I have that Harper? Mine, mine, mine, mine. It's not yours. It's actually mine. In fact, nothing is really yours, it's all ours. We just let you use it.

But I have to feel a level of sympathy for her. I get the feeling that she's coming to the realization that she doesn't really own anything and all the big people in her life do. Plus, if it's not adults, it's the other kids snatching things away from her all day. I think she's just desperate for a sense of ownership.

That's why I've started collecting a glass menagerie for Harper that she can play with anytime she wants. They'll be all hers. Because what better gift is there for a 16 month old than glass?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stealth Daddy

Harper urinates quite a bit during the night. If we leave her overnight in the diaper that we put her down in, she’ll be soaked by morning. Her pants will be wet, her sheets, her bed, animals, everything.

Obviously, the solution is changing her. So just before I go to bed each night, I change her diaper. If she wakes up again after that, I change her again.

The downside is that Harper does not easily go to sleep. If I wake her up while changing her, I’m in for 20-30 minutes of soothing. That’s why I’ve developed my superhero skills. Now I can deftly move Harper from her crib to her changing pad, nimbly change her diaper, and whisk her back in her crib without waking her up.

Spread the word…
Diapers have a new enemy...
Sleep has a new guardian...
I am Stealth Daddy!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Shoe Fetish

Harper Jo loves shoes. I really think there's an inherited gene in women that carries a love of shoes (and therefore shoe shopping). McCall has absolutely scads of shoes. Some don't fit anymore, some are in the shop (seriously), and some are in boxes waiting to be worn for the first time. I lump everything into the category of "shoe" because really McCall loves boots. I'm a flip-flop guy married to a boot woman. My feet are all black and blue from being stepped on.

As usual I digress. Harper loves all shoes. She loves Mommy's shoes, she loves Daddy's shoes, and she loves her own shoes. She first fell in love with a pair of my flip-flops. Initially, she wouldn't try to put them on. She just loved walking around with them. Anytime I took them off, she was there like a heat seeking missile and then she would carry them someplace else. The more advanced Harper becomes, the more I understand what living with a kleptomaniac is like.

Now she tries to put on shoes. She's more successful with our shoes because they're so oversized. Of course whether or not she has them on the correct foot is of no consequence to her. Either way, she'll attempt to walk around in them with an expression on her face that reflects just how pleased as punch she is with herself.

This morning, while getting Harper dressed and ready for "school" (actually daycare, but we're trying to give her an early positive association with the word school), she grabbed a pair of her shoes with which she is particularly enamored, and sat down to put them on. She actually got her entire foot into the correct shoe! I was so proud. However, as soon as I went to fasten it's velcro strap the shoe came off in my hand. I have a feeling it may be a few sizes too big.

Still, that's quite an accomplishment. I'm not sure if the right shoe on the right foot was intentional or incidental. Either way, I think she did a pretty awesome job. After all, the reason I wear flip-flops is because laces were just too complicated.