Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Money, Money, Money

Haven't filed in a while. I'll take the convenient excuse that I returned not long ago from a trip to North Dakota to "play" with Michelle's two brothers, one of whom lives in the Peace Garden State (sounds hippie-like, doesn't it? The residents must be confused with, say, Rhode Island, or some other super-liberal state). I'll detail that trip once I load some photos.

This post has to do about a little boy who's wising up to the concept and value of money. This past weekend, I was doing some cleaning in the kitchen (at least that's how I imagine my activity there) when Nathaniel came up to me brandishing a quarter.

"Daddy!" he said. "I found your money."
"You did," I said. "Where did you find it?"
"In a drawer."
"Which drawer?"
"Your drawer," he answered, without the slightest sense of guilt.
I considered whether I should reprimand him right there for rummaging around in my things.
"Oh. Then it's my money. Can you put it back in the drawer, please?"
"No," Nathaniel responded without a moment's thought. "I'm taking it to the bank."

The calculus: Start your investment by taking someone else's money and putting up none of your own.

Pretty shrewd, kid. I'll give you that.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nap Time

I am at home today enjoying a holiday that few others get. In case you're unaware, today is Victory over Japan Day, and Rhode Island is the only state in the country to still recognize it. State and municipal offices are closed. Brown University is closed. Private businesses are open. Even federal offices are open. Yes, it is one strange holiday.

Since Michelle works at a private company, she went to work, and so I am watching the children today. We've had a nice, relatively relaxing time so far. We started the Day with Daddy with the usual 6:30 a.m. wake-up call from Natty Lou, who wandered into our room and crawled into bed with us. This has become a ritual since Nathaniel began sleeping in his "big-boy bed" a few weeks ago. His room adjoins ours, and while there is a door between our rooms, there is no lock, which means that Nathaniel can wander into our room anytime he wants. We've considered a few ways to keep him in his room during his naptime. One option was to put a latch on his door. We immediately ruled that out, because we felt that he may look at his room as some sort of punishment, rather than a tranquil, restful place. We decided to put a gate between the rooms, which prevents him from coming into our room – although he could scale it – but allows him to see in our room, so he doesn't feel "locked in." We hope we're sending the right message.

We don't put up the gate at night, although we have entertained that idea about every morning Nathaniel comes into our room and wakes us up. When that happens, we try to coax him to cuddle with us, a ploy – I admit it – to keep him in the bed, so we can sleep a little longer. It rarely works for long, for when Nathaniel is awake, he is ready to take on the day. He initially gets under the covers with us, but after a few minutes, he usually says, 'I'm hungry,' and no matter how hard we try to convince him that his hunger pangs could wait another half-hour or so, once he gets locked on a thought, he won't let it go.

And so it was this morning. He let loose a tremendous pee in his potty (TMI?), and I led him downstairs for breakfast – Daddy's signature jalapeno-infused scrambled eggs and cantaloupe. As he was finishing, Isaiah and Michelle came downstairs, and the little one ate some pureed pears and Cheerios. Nathaniel has been a wild man lately, even more energetic than usual, and we're not sure why. I think it's because he's not getting enough sleep. His naps have been really erratic. Perhaps it's the transition to his bed, and the fact he's no longer contained, as he was in the crib. He's never been compliant with napping anyway, so his ability to move around may be exacerbating his general resistance to afternoon shuteye. Whatever the case, he's been challenging lately. Knowing that, I wanted to get him outside and running as soon as I could in the morning. So away we went, to the playground on the water.

We stayed there for a little more than an hour, and then got on to one of Daddy's favorite activities, which is eating. The bagel shop downtown in our fair bayside town is always a favorite destination. Nathaniel gets a blueberry or cinnamon-sugar bagel with cream cheese, and I'll splurge on a sesame bagel with fresh lox, capers and cream cheese. Yum! I had the rare forethought of bringing a bottle for Isaiah, kept cold in an insulated container, and a pouch of pre-made organic sweet potatoes and white beans. So, we all dined in style, a pleasant late-morning meal.

By the time we finished, it was about 11:00 and time to shove on home. Isaiah was due for a nap, and Nathaniel needed to follow soon thereafter. Failure to meet these unscripted deadlines penalizes children and parents alike. The children get knocked off their routines, and that means pain for the parent, because they turn into emotional wrecks. It's an incredibly fine balance.

Anyway, I thought I had everything going to plan. I got Isaiah up to nap, and armed with a bottle, he promptly fell asleep. Nathaniel, against his nature, relented without little fight for his quiet time, too. I came downstairs, and I thought I had it made.

Anything but. About 45 minutes later, Isaiah popped back awake, and he has been a nightmare since. He won't fall asleep. In fact, he's screaming right now, in the middle of the afternoon, when he normally is dead asleep. It's painfully obvious he's exhausted, so this outburst should be short (I hope.). About a half-hour after I left Nathaniel, I went into our room to get this laptop. I opened the door, and to my left, I noticed Natty Lou's door was open, though I had closed it before. Just as I was about to close it, I looked down. There, right next to the gate, was Nathaniel's outstretched form, his head resting on his blanket. He fell asleep as close as he could get to us. How sweet. I guess he loves us, after all.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ball boy

Isaiah loves his balls.

Let me rephrase that. Isaiah loves basketballs. We have two basketballs in our house, one a small, bouncy inflatable and another a mini regulation ball. We have a hoop in the house. It's one of those that looks like the real thing, with a net, a post and a clear plastic backboard with the painted square to aim those bank shots.

I love playing with this hoop. Scarcely a day goes by when I don't launch a shot. The hoop is located in the playroom (itself converted from our dining room), and it faces the den, which means I can back up into the den and hoist long-distance 3s. I've never been a long-range marksman, but what really makes the shot difficult is we have a low-hanging light in the playroom, right in the path of most shooting angles to the hoop. A made 3, therefore, needs to be a graceful shot without too much arc (or else it will hit the ceiling) and with enough precision to avoid smacking the hanging light and incurring Michelle's wrath. It's a miracle the light has remained intact, and that the hoop remains in the playroom.

Back to the balls. Nathaniel has not shown more than a passing interest in either basketball. It's more of a stop along his daily rip-roaring tour through his toys. If you can imagine the toys to be like food in a cafeteria line, the basketballs would be something like broccoli and carrots. Yes, he'll put some on his plate every now and then, but they wouldn't be his first choice, not by a long shot. It shows in his shooting as well. When he does interest himself in a basketball, he'll grab it, clutch it in both hands between his legs and fling it in the vaguely general direction of the basket. On a few occasions, the ball has made it through the hoop; however, usually, it's caroming off the ceiling, his toy shelves, the buffet ... or that hanging light.

Isaiah is not shooting buckets, but he's sure more interested in the basketballs. Like with other toys, he approaches the balls with a studious bent. He eyes them carefully, then reaches out, touches it, rolls it slowly. He taps at it. Now that he can crawl, he'll nudge it and watch intently as it rolls away. Sometimes, he gets in a sitting position and grasps the ball with both hands, either slapping at it and smiling or laying his hands on it, like a preacher baptizing a child. His emotion is so Zen-like, it's as if he's trying to decipher the ball's meaning.

He's especially fond when I sit near him and dribble. His little red head will bounce up and down in time with the thump of the ball on the carpet. Then, I'll roll the ball over to him, and he'll clutch it greedily and slap down hard on it with his hands, attempting to mimic the dribbling. When he gets too exuberant and the ball slips out of his grasp, he'll look at the ball and then at me, his face nearly expressionless, as he calculates the next move. "Do I want the ball that badly that I'll crawl over to it? Or can I wait out that big guy there who's sure to fold and get it for me?

Can you guess who usually gets the ball?