Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Day Paige Stopped Being a Kid

Paige is now nine. Nine going on 17. She got her ears pierced for her birthday, making her seem even more grown up.

She was pretty brave about the whole thing. We asked her if it hurt and she said, "It felt like they were stapling my ears." Which was pretty much what they were doing.


When you're in the middle of it, you don't really realize how quickly your kids are growing up. It's a gradual process--except in Paige's case, where it happened overnight.

I still remember the night.

It was two summers ago. We were in St. George and all the kids had been playing at the splash pad on Main Street. Before we went home, Paige and all of her cousins (Paige is the oldest of the bunch) went on the merry-go-round. After the ride, all of the kids piled back out except for Paige.

We were pretty worried. It was getting dark and we couldn't see her anywhere. After a few anxious minutes, we found her in the parking lot, standing by the car.

"Paige," we said. "What are you doing over here? Why did you leave without telling us? We thought you were lost!"

She stared back at us, silently defiant.

Finally, she responded. "I didn't want to go on the merry-go-round. It's babyish!"

And with that--at age seven--Paige decided she was done being a kid. The next weekend, I took Paige and Curtis to a Bees game. As usual, we stood in line for ages to ride the little train around the outfield. When we finally made to the front, Paige refused to get on the train.

"I'm not going," she said flatly. "This train is for babies."

All of the things she had liked for the first seven years of her life had instantly become too immature. We were done with the train, the merry-go-round, Lalaloopsy dolls, and even SpongeBob SquarePants.


Now Paige is nine and all grown up. She loves reading and drawing and watching High School Musical on repeat. It makes me sad that she's given up the kid stuff, but fortunately, every once in a while, she'll forget for a minute or two when she's playing with her little brothers.

She has a very creative mind. She writes books for Tate and draws comics for Curtis about Pop Tart people (spoiler alert: they all get eaten in the end). She makes me sweet little cards every time I'm sick and loves when Traci hugs her.

I can't believe she's been a part of our life for nine years; it's almost hard to remember life without her. Happy birthday, Baby Page--I mean Ms. Paige. We love you!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Congratulations, Spencer! You Learned Your States

I basically don't know anything about anything. History, nope. Science, uh-uh. Physics, mechanics, home repair, interior decorating, small engine combustion, politics, current events, foreign wars--none of it. Really all I have to offer is a decent knowledge of the Nirvana discography, the Bring it On franchise, and Simpsons quotes. That's it.

Recently, I was reminded of just how little I know about geography. Looking a blank U.S. map, I could only name about 20 of the 50 states. Sure, I could point out my neighbors in the West--and I knew the easy ones like Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, and Florida--but once I got over to the Midwest and those tiny East Coast states I was completely lost.

I was telling my work friends about my lack of state-naming skills and one of them took pity on me and bought me a laminated map and erasable crayons (the kind you'd buy for a kindergartner, which is not all embarrassing).

I started practicing.

Every morning when I got to work, I'd spend a few minutes working on my map skills. After a few days, I had it locked down pretty well. I could totally pass a fourth grade geography test now. Not bad for a 34-year-old!


Last night, I dreamed a dream. LeBron James and the Cavs were destroying the Denver Nuggets (I was watching basketball before I went to bed). It was so bad, in fact, that the Cavs not only brought in their bench players, but some guys from what the announcer called the "subsidy" league. These were such ragtag dudes that they didn't even have real uniforms, just store-bought John Stockton and Michael Jordan jerseys.

The game ended and the dreamed morphed--as dreams do--into something else. Suddenly, these guys were all on the practice squad, trying to make the team. For some reason, I was the assistant coach or something.

And I only had one job.

After a tough tryout, the coach was ready to make cuts. He handed me a list of all the players and then pointed to the court (which had transformed into the carpeted floor of the gym at my parents' church). Taped on the carpet was an outline of the United States.

The coach looked me straight in the eye and shouted, "Line these up boys by home state." I looked down at the player list, which was of course filled with all of my toughest states. I started to panic. Is Illinois on the right of Indiana or the left? Which one of these crazy shapes in Michigan? Where did Mississippi disappear to?

"NOW!" yelled the coach.

I took a deep breath and pointed to what I could only pray was the right state.

And then my alarm rang.

I had never been so happy to wake up.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Family Photo Fiasco

Not pictured: Curtis

Is there anything worse than family picture day?

Spoiler alert: No.

Here's a quick recap of this year's attempt:

  • Traci spends at least a week trying to put together the perfect combination of coordinated clothing
  • We're late to the location because Curtis and Tate both refuse to wear those clothes
  • Traci is flustered and frustrated with our obstinate children
  • Curtis is only willing to be in the picture if he can stand behind me and is only willing to poke about an inch of his forehead over my shoulder
  • Tate will be in the picture, but he refuses to smile
  • Paige has the flu and -- despite being a total trooper -- can barely summon the strength for a smile
  • After about five minutes, I'm willing to give up on the whole thing, because now Curtis is refusing to be in the picture at all
  • For one fleeting moment, everyone stands in the same place at the same time. Neither of the boys will smile or say "cheese," but they are willing to burp in unison. Fortunately, with no sound, a burp kind of looks like a smile.
It was an awful, awful evening. And we'll always have a picture to remember it. 

(A huge thank you to our very, very patient photographer. Please accept our apologies.)

Sunday, November 02, 2014

My Son Curtis

I'm standing in a souvenir shop in Manhattan, holding an I Love New York t-shirt. I turn to my boss and say, "I'm buying this for Curtis, even though he'll hate it."

Curtis doesn't like stuff. Even if he does.

He loves monster trucks. But if I were to buy tickets to Monster Jam, he would tell me that he doesn't want to go. (I have. And he did.)

He loves getting mail. But I were to send him a litter, he would open it up and then immediately throw it away. (And then tell me, "I only like letters that have money in them.")

When I got home from New York, I gave Curtis a hug and said, "Hey, buddy. I brought something home for you." He took the shirt, held it up, and gave it a look. Then, without breaking eye contact with me, he crumpled it up and dropped it on the ground. Pretty much like I thought he would.

But he didn't stop there. A few minutes later, after I had moved on to something else, he tracked me down. "Dad," he said, "There's something weird under your bed."

"Weird?" I asked.

"Yeah. Weird."

I followed him into my room and looked under the bed, where he had shoved the balled-up t-shirt.

"Yeah. That's pretty weird," I said.

The next morning, Curtis was wearing the shirt.

It's now one of his favorites.

That's Curtis. He hates stuff. Even if he doesn't. And sometimes he loves it.