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No More Money

Fisher bursts out crying in the backseat…

D (slowing down even further): Fisher, what’s the matter?
F (through tears): Now, we aren’t going to have any money, and we won’t be able to, er, uh, eh, buy anything anymore!
D: Oh, no, Fisher, that’s not true. Daddy doesn’t keep all of our money in his wallet! We have more money in the bank. We can go get some.
F (still crying): But, you won’t have your card!
D: No, it’s okay, Fisher. I can get money from the bank without an ATM card. We definitely still have money. We just don’t have my wallet, but that’s okay.

Fisher keeps crying, Daddy failing to distinguish “lost wallet” from “bankruptcy.”

D (switching tactics): Fisher, you need to stop crying right now! If you have tears in your eyes, you won’t be able to see through them. (Fisher quiets down some.) And, if you can’t see, you can’t help Cory and me look for Daddy’s wallet.  (Quieter.) We need all six eyes to look for the wallet, Fisher; so, can you please calm your mind and calm your body and focus on looking for Daddy’s wallet on your side of the road?
F (back on track): Okay.

Earlier, after a missed dentist’s appointment, Daddy had put his iPhone and wallet on the roof of the car to buckle the kids back in…and pulled away, arriving home about 20 minutes later to realize that the phone and wallet are missing. Dr. Nola, several members of her staff, as well as a nearby dry cleaner, helped Daddy and the twins sleuth it out, leading to recovery of the phone, which slid down the back window to become lodged in the crack between the glass and the trunk. No luck with the wallet, though. Daddy and the twins piled back in the car to drive super slow and scour the road looking for it, when Fisher, sure of financial devastation, broke down. He’d been fragile all day, randomly breaking out into shoulder-shaking tears several times.

A good samaritan, an emergency contact card, and a few phone calls to and from Papa puts Daddy’s wallet, sans the cash, back in Daddy’s hands, but Fisher’s fragility lasted through Saturday morning soccer, where a late-breaking tummy ache sidelines him for the week.

In Her Bed

The twins have shared so much:  toys, books, crayons, friends, attention, a womb, a crib, a bedroom. Since they moved to separate cribs and then separate beds, the bunk bed is really the only space to which either one can truly lay complete claim.  The number of times that one of the twins has called foul on the other for invading his or her bunk has been countless. Typically, he wants to climb into her bed, she denies entry, he barges in, and Cory yells, “No, Fisher! Daddy! Papa! I don’t want Fisher in my bed, and he just…!”

Something is now up.

Four out of five nights over the past six weeks, Cory has cried out and won’t fall back asleep without someone coming to lie with her in her bed for a bit. She nestles herself quickly into a daddy nook, a few whispered words erasing the latest bad dream. For Daddy, those whispers also erase much of the more complicated interactions that mark the other 23 hours of the day. A clean, simple reset. At this stage, father and daughter could not be closer than in those groggy, middle-of-the-night moments of comfort. (Fisher has only once called out like that in the past few months, after a dream in which a “very bad wolf” bit him. Fantasy didn’t stray far from reality for that one.)

As magical as midnight cuddling with Cory can be, those moments often stretch to an exhausting two hours because Daddy also falls asleep, contorted around a girl and her army of stuffed animals in a twin bed not made for six-foot-two.

Fisher to the rescue, of course.

First, he is talking with her past bedtime…in her bed.  Next, he is turning the lights back on so that she can read him a book or two…in her bed. One morning, Fisher confesses that he slept the full night in Cory’s bed “and Cory wanted me to, Daddy.” Finally, one night Daddy walks in to kiss them one last time before heading to bed himself, to find Fisher sprawled out against the wall…in her bed. Now, they ask together at bedtime whether he can sleep…in her bed.

D: Sure, as long as you don’t talk and you actually go to sleep. Sleep is important. It is when your mind rests, and your body grows.  Okay?
C/F:  Okay, Daddy.

His familiar heartbeat is further than it was in the womb or crib, but it’s closer than it is when he sleeps in the bunk above her. And Cory hasn’t cried out once in the middle of the night since.

The Crazy Train

The busy street between the house and the school is the new water’s edge…

C (screaming):  I don’t want to hold your hand!

Daddy tightens his grip on her wrist as they walk down their street toward school.

C (close to the top of her lungs):  I don’t want to hold your hand, Daddy!  I don’t want to hold your hand!
D:  You aren’t holding my hand, Cory.  Fisher is holding my other hand, and I am holding yours with this one.  Forcibly.  And I am not letting go.  It’s time to go to school.  Now, things would go better, if you would just try to calm your body and calm your mind, Cory.  Screaming doesn’t…
C (reaching with her free hand to try to rescue the held one):  I don’t want to…HOLD…YOUR…HAND!
D (keeping the held hand away from her free one):  It’s time to go to school, Cory.  You can’t miss the bell.

As she keeps screaming, “I don’t want to hold your hand, Daddy!”, Daddy presses forward, using his fingers to pinch her free hand the next time that it tries to wrench her held hand free.

C (crying out dramatically):  You hurt me, Daddy!  You hurt me!
D:  Stop trying to get your hand free.  You are going to school.  It would be better for you if you calmed down.
F:  Yes, Cory.  Calm your body, okay?
C (loudly so that every neighbor within three houses would hear, if the hearing aids are in yet):  But, you hurt me, Daddy!  You did that on purpose.  You pinched me!

Daddy stops and kneels down in front of Cory’s wild eyes, his grip on her wrist not loosening one bit.  “Listen, Cory.  I am sorry if that pinch hurt.  But, despite multiple warnings, you jumped on the crazy train this morning. I told you not to get on it, but you did.  I’ve told you time and again, when you feel yourself getting too tired, just tell Daddy, or at least try really hard to listen to Daddy.  But, you didn’t.  And here we are.  Your bell rings at 8:15, and you have two choices:  you can either calm your body and calm your mind and go to school or you can keep screaming and crying and when we get to school, we will drop Fisher off and you and I can walk back home.  And, you can stay in your room all day.  You won’t see Mrs. Powell.  You won’t see Danny.  You won’t see your other friends.  You decide.”  Daddy stands back up and keeps walking.

She cries.  Reason lowered her volume a bit, without solving the problem.  She cries.  And cries…until the crossing guard comes into sight, at which point, the crying stops abruptly.  The guard lifts the STOP sign and says, “Good morning!”

D:  Good morning!
F:  Good morning!

Cory is quiet.  Once on the school grounds, Fisher drops Daddy’s hand here and there to gesture or run for a bit.  Daddy loosens his grip on Cory, but suddenly her own grip tightens back.  Tears dry.  Shoulders drop.  Daddy stops, bends down, hugs her, and says absolutely nothing.

The hug ends and within minutes, Cory is laughing on the swings, calling out to Daddy to watch how she can pump her own legs now and go “so high, right, Daddy?”  Daddy sits and watches them for fifteen minutes.  A sense that domestic politics ends at the water’s edge is hard-wired into Cory; so, Daddy had intentionally taken them to school early.  Fifteen more minutes at home would have been fifteen minutes lost to conflict and chaos.  Thanks to the others around the school grounds — the crossing guard, drivers in their cars, kids arriving on their bikes, parent volunteers, teachers readying rooms — those fifteen minutes were much better spent.

Hardly a morning of award-winning Daddy parenting skills…not many books on the subject recommend the strategic pinch.  But, thankfully, the crossing guard, those drivers, other kids, fellow parents, and teachers readying rooms all passively reached out and did what Daddy could not do:  gently splash enough water on the girl to knock her off that crazy train.

Remembering Cabo

On the way back from Cabo, the family lost the “good” camera. The cab driver didn’t take it out of the back of the taxi when transferring everything to the Suburban at Aunt Tammie’s house. Efforts to track down the driver, the cab company, and the camera all failed; so, lost are all the pictures from Cabo…except…

C: Daddy, is that camera a new camera?
D: Yes, Cory. We lost the other one. And, we lost all of our pictures from the trip to Mexico. That makes me sad because we took so many pictures of you and Fisher swimming and riding down that water slide and playing tennis and all that other stuff.
C: I like that water slide.

Cory disappears. And returns a few minutes later with the iPod Touch.

C: Daddy, I took some pictures.
D: You did? Of what?
C: Of Mexico. Here, I’ll show you. (She quickly – scarily quickly – presses and swipes her way to the archive of pictures.) See, here are you and Fisher sleeping. Well, you are sleeping, Daddy, but Fisher is looking at me. See? That’s not my best one, though. (Swiping.) Here is my prettiest one. I like this one so much because you can see the ocean. (Pointing.) See, Daddy?

The 178-picture album that we now have is blurrier, a bit more repetitive, and…not exactly focused on the right subject matter, but, hey, better than nothing.

Flea Structure

At the tail end of a successful six-week battle against a flea infestation of the house, courtesy of a couple hundred pounds of dog, Fisher asks at bedtime…

F:  Why the fleas like to bite me, but they don’t like to bite you and Cory, Daddy?
D:  Well, Cory and Daddy don’t have to worry about fleas or mosquitos whenever you or Papa is around because they like the taste of you guys better than us.

Pause.

F:  Daddy, maybe those fleas like Papa and me better because Cory and you taste just a little bit sour.
D (smiling):  That could absolutely be why, Fisher.  I don’t know how I taste to a flea, but I might just taste just a little bit sour.

The next morning, as Daddy lathers some cortisone cream on what used to be bites on Fisher’s right side…

F:  Daddy, why aren’t you putting a ring of cortisone here (gesturing toward his wrists) and here (toward his ankles)?
D:  Well, because no fleas are going to get you during the daytime, silly goose.  They can’t keep up with you as you move around.
F:  They only try to get me while I’m sleeping?
D:  That’s right.  Because then you are lying still.  So, I put that cortisone there to taste yucky to a flea and keep them off o you.
F:  Do they jump on my body while I am sleeping?
D:  Yes, they did, but when we put the cream where your pajamas start, you don’t taste so good anymore, so they leave you alone even when you are lying down.  And, I think all of the fleas might be dead by now anyway.

Pause.

F:  So, I am like a structure!
D:  A structure?
F:  I am like a structure.  For the fleas.  When I am sleeping.
D:  A structure?
F:  They just jump and play on me like my body is a structure for them.
D:  Oh, a play structure.  Yes, I guess you have been.
F (animated flourish with his hand down his right side):  And, I have a slide right here that those fleas just like to slide down all night, Daddy!

Great, positive attitude, cute even, now that this battle is won…but, um, still gross.