photo

I recently attended a conference here in town that’s put on by one of the organizations I’m involved with and was pretty saddened by the list the kids created about what they wanted in the kid’s area. The room used as the kid’s area was completely bare, other than having a sink, and academic institution style chairs and tables. The people providing child care had brought some paper and markers, but other than that there wasn’t really anything for the kids to do.

I’m really glad that there was child care available, it made it possible for me to bring Little Bear to part of the conference. However, I also read the list that the kids created, think about how many people said something like “I didn’t know there was childcare, I would’ve brought my kid” or mentioned a friend who could’ve attended had they known, and I wish more thought and resources were given to supporting children, parents, and care givers in justice movements and communities.

I’d like to think that communities rooted in social movements and collective processes can do a better job supporting parents, but it frequently feels like organizing child care and promoting child care falls on to people involved in parenting and care giving. In the LGBTQ community in particular I think there’s still a perception that people aren’t raising children, or that people who are raising children are selling out/opting out of organizing.

When Little Bear was born I pulled back from almost all of the organizing work that I was doing. Meetings weren’t at convenient times, weren’t baby friendly, or were just too long for someone with an infant. Now that I have a toddler I worry her presence will be perceived as disruptive to the community, and meetings are still frequently too late or too long. So when I want to commit to work on something I need to juggle whether I can bring Little Bear or if my partner can look after her, and if I’m doing the parenting and housework 50-50.  I have no easy answers for how to make this better, I only have my deep commitment to be a good partner, a good father and my desire to organize in my community.

Part of parenting is making sure that your kid doesn’t do something stupid like run into the street, but part of parenting is also teaching your kid about the world and giving them tools to engage in creating a more just society. If we don’t teach our kids about the work while we’re busy organizing where does that leave them? The late great Whitney Houston sang it in The Greatest Love of All, “I believe the children are our future.”

Last month I read the book “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind” and had to keep myself from jumping up and shouting “yes!” every five minutes. The essays in the book affirmed my existence as a parent and my hope that making social movements inclusive of parents, caregivers and children is possible. Here’s a nice blurb about the book:

“Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind is a collection of concrete tips, suggestions, and narratives on ways that non-parents can support parents, children, and caregivers in their communities, social movements, and collective processes. Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind focuses on issues affecting children and caregivers within the larger framework of social justice, mutual aid, and collective liberation.”

You can check out the Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind blog for more ideas on ways to include kids, parents, and families in communities. Are there any tips or experiences around including parents and kids in your communities that you value?

 

 

Make up magic spells/ We wear them like protective shells

Image

Driving down the busy divided street that leads to our new house, past HyVee and to the highway, where the YMCA snuggles up against bridges and fast-moving cars. Traffic in my lane, the lane closest to the sidewalk, stops abruptly, and I change lanes in order to escape the snarl. And then I see a mama, about my age, dragging a dark blue stroller onto the sidewalk from the shoulderless street. Her older kid—Jetpack’s age, Jetpack’s proportions—stares, his expression unreadable, as his mom cradles the baby in the stroller. I can see her shaken, crouching, her face twisted with relief and horror and fear like I’ve never felt. Everyone’s okay. Traffic resumes, the baby is unharmed, everyone is okay.

But the scene has gnawed at my insides. If. If. What if.

I just can’t get that moment out of my head. I’ve seen car accidents, and put in my heartfelt wishes for the safety of everyone involved. I can remember what seems like a thousand international and horrors, waiting and hoping that the body counts were low.

This wasn’t a massive incident. This was a moment, an accident, a second when something terrible might’ve happened. If the driver hadn’t stopped. If she’d been on the phone or texting. If her brakes were bad. If the stroller had rolled further into traffic. If.

IF is a terrible place to live.

I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to Jetpack. Our brains reach the end of that road, and I think they just turn off. Nope. I don’t know what I’d do. I can’t know what I’d do.

I think that’s what that momma was thinking, that day, in front of the YMCA. Or maybe what she thought later.

Moments like those remind me why we grasp so hard at religious understanding. To blame sudden, painful changes on something—on the Fates, on Sin, on demons or deities—gives us some way to understand. Those aren’t understandings that I subscribe to, but I can see the draw.

And maybe this is even a religious thought, a prayer to toss into the aether. Wherever you are, I’m glad your baby was okay, YMCA mama, and I wish you all the best. You are in my heart.

———-

I wrote this weeks ago, and just haven’t had it in me to post it. Too depressing, I guess.

To add a kick in the gut, I’m going to go all topical. As Mark Twain said, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.”

Politics aside, there are a lot of people who are going to be hurting due to this political game that Congress is playing. WIC isn’t funded, some smaller food access programs are closing down, and food programs for low income seniors will not be funded. People won’t be bringing in paychecks. If you’re not a federal employee, and/or if you aren’t hurting from this charade, now might be a good time to donate, to food banks (often, they prefer money, not “the canned goods from the back of your cupboard”). And keep an eye out for ways you can help, as the shit, as they say, continues to roll downhill.

On being extra arms

broken clavicle

Dylan’s busted clavicle

As Levi mentioned last week in his post last week, I was recently doored by a car two weeks ago. My clavicle was fractured in several places, and I had surgery last week to put a plate and several screws in to realign the break. Fortunately I didn’t have any other major injuries other than some pretty colorful bruising.

The past two weeks have been a bit of a blur, but I have been reminded of how valuable our friends and family are to the FaB Family. People have stepped up to fill in for my injured arm and then some. My partner’s mom was coincidentally in town when I was hit and she extended her stay by several days to help take care of Little Bear. My mom then came to help and stayed for a few days. She took me to surgery so Rebecca could work. Both of Little Bear’s grandmas handled soothing her if she woke in the night. Our friend Billy set up a schedule of friends dropping off dinner for us for a week, even though I was being Minnesotan and waffling about needing dinner help for the whole week (Billy was right, we totally needed help for the whole week).

fixed clavicle

Dylan’s fixed clavicle

Friends cooked us dinner, helped play with Little Bear, mowed our lawn, and generally offered to do whatever we needed help with and I am so grateful for it. I suppose my general point here is that even if it doesn’t seem like much, keep offering to help out the parents in your community. Be that extra arm or two to put the kid in the high chair, sing a silly song, mow the lawn, read a book, whatever. Even if you frequently get turned down, or if you asked to do something that seems sort of odd, it all helps and will be appreciated even if the parents can’t always thank you fully. We are still tired over here at the FaB house, but doing so much better than if we had needed to cope with my broken clavicle without all the care and help we’ve been given. While I am tired and sore and angry about getting doored, I am also fortunate and grateful to have such a strong network of chosen and biologically family.

Little Bear has definitely noticed that I’m injured. Granted, it’s hard not to with the giant “Ultrasling III” I am wearing. The night I got home from the ER right after getting hit she climbed into my lap and sat quietly without wiggling while I read to her. Let me tell you, having an almost two year old sit still in your lap is pretty miraculous. Now that I’ve had surgery Little Bear keeps pointing to my bandage and saying “Dada owie, ba ba!” Translation: Daddy has an owie and is wearing a bandaid. I went up to sooth her when she woke up in the night and she tapped my bandaid, said “Dada owie,” kissed my other clavicle, and then clapped because she was so pleased with herself. It still took a while to get her to go back to sleep, but at least she was adorable.

Giving It Up For…You.

An aside I can’t figure out a way to put in this rambly and sub-par post: our very own Dylan got doored by a car on his bike last week. All good and healing thoughts his way!
I never did have the courage to drink that coffee.

I never did have the courage to drink that coffee.

I started this from the doctor’s office. I’ve just gotten done with my visual field test—my third—for a problem I have called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. It’s fun. Right now, I have to take a pill every day, and it keeps the fluid around my brain from pushing down on it and giving me headaches, vision problems, and hearing problems. After the visual field test–where you stick your head in a machine that looks like HAL’s rear end:

I'm sorry, Dave.

I’m sorry, Dave.

After that there’s the part where they shine bright lights in my eyes, in order to see every crack and crevice of my optic nerves. I gave up contacts, in part, because I just couldn’t stand things coming at my eyes, long before I had IIH. So I get to have these every couple of months. For funsies!

I’m here during Jetpack’s brief time at preschool. Lately, his time at preschool has been taken up with purchasing a house, seeing doctors for my upcoming abdominal surgery, and not on writing or catching up on important other things like that. I’m behind on my email, behind on my writing, behind on the (unpaid) work I do with some non-profits.

I can’t imagine doing this while I worked full time. Or as a single parent. On the poverty line. In a rural area, or a larger city. Between caring for my sister, taking care of other family needs, Jetpack, and then somewhere in there, myself…I just don’t know how I’d do it.

I don’t have much of a good blog post this week, is what I’m saying. I’m moving in the first week of September, and in between now and then, I have to get my house packed up, and then do work on the new place, and a dozen other little things.

Parenting is hard when this kind of stuff is going down. Not only, like, making sure dinner gets on the table (not gonna lie, tonight we had fast food. It’s been a long time, but I just could not pull my shit together enough to get something else out there). But being the kind of parent that has the energy to explain for the sixth time where lightening comes from, to not let him have freezy pops all day long, who smiles and laughs and asks how his day was.

My point, though, where did I…whoops, it’s over there. Excuse me, all I’ve had today is a can of pop. And I don’t usually drink pop, but it was there, and I had just gotten out of fat-shaming-neurologist, and…right, right, the point.

Artwork by John William Keedy.

Artwork by John William Keedy.

I can do this, because someday I’ll be done moving, and I can come home after the doctor’s to the Mr and cry on his shoulder if I need to, and Jetpack has preschool, and I have the spare cash to buy us fast food when dinner is just Too Damn Much.

So this is my massive nod, my bowing at your feet, my buying-you-a-beer-or-coffee, virtually.

To every parent out there who makes it, every goddamned day. Who gets shit done, clothes cleaned, homework enforced, dealing with or putting aside our own mental and physical and socio-economical blockages. We deserve so much respect and love for the good we manage to do.

Hugs!

So, y’all, go out and hug a parent. Ask first, though.

Huuugs

[Lit Crit] 3 Links, 3 Books

Some small links ahead, before your proper post:

  • Y’all should check out the new www.villageq.com site. I’m thinking there’s some familiar faces out there…

Now! Book post! We have one disappointing book, and two fabulous books. I’m not sure why the photos are so grainy, besides that the camera is new and I must have some settings off…also, Vanna Jetpack wasn’t real patient with this photo shoot 🙂

Anyway.

First book:

Who's in a Family cover

I flipped through this book and bought it, both for research, and because Jetpack liked it at the bookstore. I was excited. Scanning mindlessly, it looked like a fabulously perfect book.

Who’s In A Family was published in 1995. I’m a little surprised, actually, because I would’ve pegged it at a late ‘80s publication. The back gives a good summary: “Who’s in a family? The people who love you the most! Chances are, your family is like no one else’s–and that’s just fine.”

Good start, right? It doesn’t pidgeonhole (And Tango Makes Three is a great book but I want something a little queerer, too!). It shows different families (almost like small family stories on single or double pages) and also different types of animal-family configurations.

It starts to fall apart on page three.

Who's in a Family? Whitey.

The main text reads “Families are made up of people,” and then the next page says, “and animals have families too.” So…I’m not sure why the author and artist thought this page was necessary. In a book showcasing different types of families, this one starts with a definition of family–mighty white, heterosexual, and nuclear–which takes a dump all over that.

Who's in a Family moms Who's in a Family dads

Here’s our two main lesbian/gay appearing families. On the left, the text reads, “Laura and Kyle live with their two moms, Joyce and Emily, and a poodle named Daisy. It takes all four of them to give Daisy a bath.” On the right, the text reads, “Robin’s family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad’s partner, Henry, and Robin’s cat, Sassy. Clifford and Henry take turns making dinner for their family.”

Now, if Henry is the fellow with the porn star moustache, I guess I can understand some reticence in claiming him as dad (I jest). But there seems to be a huge disregard for the family unit on the right, versus the family unit on the left. There’s also a page which states “Lots of children live in families with their mothers.” But nothing similarly sweeping for father-led families.

Who's in a Family lions

Similarly, there are awesome showcases of animal families (Jetpack picked his favorite to show everyone). But not one is father-led (hello? Seahorse dads are badass. Or any of these animals, really). There’s no mention of adoption (at all). And step- or blended-families are glossed over.

In conclusion: if you run across Who’s in a Family, by Robert Skutch, just keep on going. There’s better books out there.

other books

These books, though. They’re not about families, but they’re really great books, and kind of subversive in a way that makes my writer-heart happy. And here, Vanna Jetpack was bored with holding books entirely, so please excuse the lack of inside pictures 🙂

Chester’s Way, by Kevin Henkes, is about two mouse best-friends, Chester and Wilson. Yeah, it’s two boys who are super close friends. I feel like this is a rare occurrence in kids lit, and I love how great the friendship between Chester and Wilson is. A new kid–Lily–moves into town, and Chester and Wilson learn about tolerance, and friendship, and it’s sweet and adorable. It doesn’t moralize, but it’s a very positive and has a lot of meaning.

The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, is a story about a bull who doesn’t like fighting, but instead wants to hang out and smell the flowers. Seriously. Everyone wants him to fight and be hyper-masculine like the other bulls, but he wants to be peaceful. His mom worries that he’s unhappy, and when she discovers that he’s not, she just lets him do his thing. It’s a great book, the illustrations are absolutely beautiful, and it has another fabulous message. Plus, it was banned in fascist Spain and burned in Nazi Germany. Who can argue with that kind of a resume?

Exhaustion Guilt

Today I am exhausted. Little Bear has moved into full on toddler-hood, tantrums and all. She hasn’t been sleeping very well the past two nights. She’s not running a fever or tugging on her ears, just screaming and crying. Both my partner and I are tired and frustrated after several nights of only a few hours of sleep.

Several people I know have been posting that New York Times article “Cheating Ourselves of Sleep” about the long term impacts of insufficient sleep. It just made me mad. Trust me, I know that I am not getting enough sleep and that it is bad for me. I am also frustrated because I think about how people who are more likely to get insufficient sleep are probably working multiple jobs for not enough pay while trying to take care of their families. I’m willing to bet most people with “insufficient sleep” aren’t consistently not getting enough sleep by choice but by circumstance.

I know I tend towards overly mushy posts about how much I love being a dad and how much I love my kid. Today I am giving myself permission to be tired though. It is ok that I am tired and exhausted and maybe can’t give 100% to my job or my kid. It is ok that this morning all I could really do was stare at my partner with glazed eyes and apologize for the shitty sleep we got before I staggered out the door go get croissants from the bakery instead of making breakfast.

Caregiving is hard work. Like so many other parents who want to be more involved in organizing and activism, I am wiped out at the end of the day. When Little Bear goes through one of her bouts of not sleeping well, neither my partner nor I have much time to do anything other than wipe the dinner remains off the table and maybe wash a few dirty dishes. I feel guilty about not getting this blog post up on time, turning down invitations to organizing meetings, not picking up my old volunteer shifts at the shot clinic, still not having gone to a radical families group that has been meeting in my city for over a year, not going to fundraisers and events, and so much of the rest of the activities that made up my life before being a parent. Today I am going to do my best to absolve myself, and let go of that guilt. To use the words of Ethan, my friend and fellow blogger, “let’s take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.”

Book Burnin’, Pearl Clutchin’, and Idea Evolvin’

(Please read title in the voice of Arlo Gutherie, because that’s how it sounds in my head)
These shoes really have nothing to do with the blog, except that they're absolutely fabulous. The toes light up! Rainbows on the sides! Sparkles!

These shoes really have nothing to do with the post, except that they’re absolutely fabulous. The toes light up! Rainbows on the sides! Sparkles!

Last month, I attended a feminism-and-social-justice oriented science fiction convention—specifically, Wiscon. I’ve been going since I was 18.* It’s always been an amazing and thought-provoking experience, and this time was no different. While there, I picked up a copy of Rad Dads: Dispatches From The Frontiers of Parenthood and am looking forward to diving into it soon. I also picked up a picture book for Jetpack. I wasn’t paying attention to the writer (whoops) and discovered, when I sat down to read it to Jetpack for the first time, that we’d picked up a fully innocuous kid’s book written by a rather gross transphobe—Derrick Jensen.

Oops!

Jetpack loved it, but I (when I realized who I’d supported) felt horrible. Taking my feelings to Facebook, where all feelings must go to be shared,** I asked what I should do.

A surprising number of people responded firmly with “burn it.” Those words left me mentally wringing my hands, faced with a possibility that had never crossed my mind.

We teach Jetpack to have respect for books. He is chided when books are left on the floor, or thrown, or their pages are bent. Books are not to be used as the stepping stones over imaginary rivers, are not to be ripped, ended up picking written in, or otherwise maimed. Books are objects to be treated with respect. I would feel hypocritical if I destroyed it, right? That’s not what I want to be teaching him, is it?

I’ve heard this before, once—specifically when talking about the extremely large number of books at my local thrift store by Focus On Family’s anti-queer, anti-woman, good-things hater James Dobson. Then, it took me off guard, but I shrugged it off as a joke.

The book by the transphobe was, as I said, innocuous, and I think the biggest problem (in my mind) was the small bit of financial and emotional support I gave Jensen by buying it. Dobson’s work, conversely—totally offensive.*** (And, being second hand, I could hypothetically buy it without contributing to him at all…).

What do we do with bad books, though? Like, really, what the hell do we do? Suddenly I find myself with real empathy for the used bookstore employees and the thrift store employees. Can you imagine having to shelve all those used (ugh) copies of Fifty Shades of Gray? But what else do you do with them?

Who am I to destroy books? Books are precious, right? Do they deserve to exist simply for the worth of the paper they are printed on? For every Dobson book I may or may not get my fingers (or for that matter, matches) on, LITERALLY millions more exist. When the Library of Alexandria burned, it was a destruction of knowledge—if an entire library were to burn in the US today, it would be a sad financial and emotional loss, but no books would likely be irreplaceable. And then there’s electronic books—book burning may be a radical act, but what about deleting the file off your kindle?

The destruction of books is still a powerful thing. It feels historical–a high school history topic about Nazis, or maybe an English class reading the Bradbury novel. But it’s not all history. Intolerant, narrow-minded jerks still think that burning the Quran is just great (”We had a court process,” said Pastor Terry Jones, who acted as judge, in a phone interview. “We tried to set it up as fair as possible, which you can imagine, of course, is very difficult.” REALLY). They still find the burning of paper with words on it to be a powerful and political act. The protests it spawned among Muslims prove that power as well. But the sacredness of a single, particular copy of a book, has, perhaps, a changing definition.

For the time being, I’m not burning any books. Jensen’s book is hidden. And, for the time being, Jetpack and I will continue to treat books with a high degree of respect—though I won’t be clutching my pearls when someone suggests destroying materials they find offensive. And who knows, maybe, someday, I’ll drop $50 at the thrift store and have a toasty, queer, Dobson-laced bonfire…

 
*This…maybe means that this year was my 10th year oh god I’m getting so old.
**Wait, no, that’s Twitter.
***In Dobson’s world, for example, AIDS is still a punishment for homosexuality and promiscuity. Whoops, I think I’m seeing red again.

Guest Post: Holiday Edition

Kids aren’t always little angels who teach us the meaning of family and commitment. Sometimes they are just weird, disgusting people.
This post is a submission by a guest author. To submit your own guest post, click here.

Sometimes, our kids are brilliant and profound; they say things that really make us stop and think; things that make us beam with pride and joy.  However, more often than not, they say things that are absolutely ridiculous, cause us to (try to) stifle our laughter, and/or wonder what planet they actually hail from (because it sure as heck can’t be this one).

Living in house with a 5 year old and an 8 year old, I find myself often speechless, my mind completely at a loss, trying to understand what is happening right now.

The things these kids say, seriously. WTF:

“Remember in my bedroom at my old house, when we used to have sleepovers, and we’d pretend we were fish and cut each other up? Wanna play that?”

Well, now I don’t know that we should go to this Chinese buffet so much as maybe I should turn the car around and we should go to therapy… Pretending to be fish, that’s cool, I’m a Nemo fan myself, but fileting one another? Now that’s taken a macabre turn.  I’m grossly curious at the same time as to just how this game is played. Wait, I don’t want to know. Yes, I do. No, I don’t. Well, kinda… I don’t even know how to ask a follow-up question. Go, be fish, my children, for tomorrow we have sushi.

“I forgot to put underwear on this morning.  My butt’s been naked all day. Wanna see?”

*pulls down pants in front yard*

Well, now the neighbors have seen your alabaster kid-bum and probably are wondering what kind of circus I run over here…Oh, you know, my kid just mooning the neighborhood on a random Tuesday night. No big deal, right? Modesty, what’s that all about?  I hope they don’t call the cops. Maybe I should bring them brownies tomorrow and try to explain our kids are just weird… And, just how does one “forget” to put underwear on? The teenage years are going to be horrible. Oh shit, just thinking about it… Drink, please!

“If I give the dog a booger will she eat it? I mean, she eats her own poop. It has to taste better, right?”

Well, I mean, this is kind of profound, right? It’s most certainly it’s logical. She does eat her own poop, and I guess I’d venture anything tastes better than that, but, it still raises a few questions for me:  What’s the thought process here? How do you even arrive at this question? Do you have a booger right now?  (If you do, please don’t eat it.)  I don’t even know how to answer this question.  Why are kids so gross? Is this even normal?

“How about we were too pretty so the bad guys let us out?”

“Yeah! But first they cut off all of our hair!”

“OK! Don’t eat the sparkles!”

What. The. Crap. I have no idea what game this children are playing. Anti-reality, obviously.  Maybe I should have majored in child psychology.  Is my daughter going to think her looks get her out of troublesome situations?  I really hope they don’t actually have scissors… I’m completely at a loss here.  Why can’t we eat the sparkles? Sparkles are usually so tasty… Wait, maybe the sparkles are some dastardly drug and if we eat them… oh, wait I’m not playing this game.

And they wonder why parents are crazy? Have you heard the stuff children say? If you haven’t, you’re welcome to come spend a Saturday with these two…

Ready for what’s next

On Sunday, Little Bear officially become an 18 month old. On Monday I graduated from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. My parents and my sister came from out of town over the weekend, it was great to celebrate with my partner, at least part of my family of origin, and of course Little Bear. I am grateful that my partner and I decided to have a kid when I was in grad school, and that we were able to be flexible enough each semester to figure out schedules for both of us to balance working and caring for Little Bear. While I am quite proud of the work that I’ve done in school, and think it was worth the time and investment to slog through the hoop jumping and hierarchy of higher education, becoming a dad has been the best part of the past two years.

Yeah, I learned some fancy math and statistical analysis techniques, did a lot of homework, and learned how to create and evaluate policies along with a whole slew of other things. But I’ve also grown into both actually feeling like a dad, and like I often even know what I am doing. When Little Bear was born I was thrilled and excited. I wasn’t scared, but I was certainly a little anxious about screwing up. While I technically became a dad, I didn’t start feeling confident as a dad until later. I know I felt fiercely protective of this little being from the moment I scooped her out of water she was born in, even if I didn’t know much beyond getting sustenance in one end and keeping the other as clean as possible.

I recently have had some really great conversations about parenting with new dads, soon to be dads, and fellow toddler-dads. These conversations have been full of excitement, fears, and deep reflection on what being a dad means to us. So much of the cultural narrative about fathers and infants is the bumbling dad who means well but is clueless until the kid is potty-trained. This isn’t the kind of dad any of the people I’ve talked with want to be, which makes me hopeful that there’s a shift in how we view parents and caretakers.

I can’t say exactly when it happened, but somehow I’ve turned into someone who is confident in his parenting skills and has fully integrated “dad” into my identity. Heck, I even do the tuneless half-singing half-humming thing my dad does when I’m washing dishes. This is not to say that I have everything figured out, or that I am not going to screw up multiple times in the future. Right now my partner and I are trying to figure out how to get better at having time together, even when we are tired and our brains are fried. I am also trying to figure out how to be patient with the toddler temper tantrums over nothing.

I know parents so frequently get told “oh just wait for [insert your favorite awful age here]” but I’m excited. I know we will have tantrums and arguments and Little Bear isn’t going to do exactly what we want because she is her own person. Living into who she is means she’s not always going to listen to us. I can only hope I remember that as she continues to grow up. I am a dad, I am a parent, I am ready for whatever is next.

When I was Three I Was Hardly Me (A.A. Milne)

3 year old or X-Files episode? We report, you decide.

3 year old or X-Files episode? We report, you decide.

When next I make a regular post, I’ll be doing so with a four year old in my house.
I’m not quite sure how it’s happened that I managed to (almost) successfully parent for four years. I’m pretty sure Jetpack would’ve made it happen with or without my own parenting (in)abilities; in fact, parenting really has been more like being caught in the saddle of a rather short horse, dragged along through every single mud puddle in the entire park, surrounded by maniacal laugher. I’m not sure I’ve done anything besides been a witness.

Everyone knows where this is going...

Everyone knows where this is going…

Jetpack sure has done a lot, though. Why, yesterday, he did something really quite extraordinary. I was letting him use scissors to take down the twine spider’s web he made on the stair railing. We had this conversation. I’m sure it is familiar to a lot of you parents.
J: “Can I cut my hair?”
Me: “No.”
J: “Why not?”
Me: (I don’t actually remember what I said. Sleep deprivation. It’s a tossup between either “because I said so” or “because it takes a long time to grow back, and we don’t cut our hair ourselves.”)
J: “Fine.” (And then he gets this look in his eyes, where he’s paying attention to me but not looking at me, like a dog trying to get away with something. And this is why we evolved so well with dogs. Because basically we’re dogs.)
I turn, I grab something, I turn back. The scissors are hovering above his head. This is my favorite part, though. He looks me in the eye, and closes the scissors and then, as a small hunk of hair falls onto his other hand, says with complete surprise in his big blue eyes, “Look! I don’t know how that happened.”
Me: “You just cut it.”
J: “No! I don’t know how it happened, it just fell off.”
I managed to not laugh in his face. No, I waited until I could go outside while he was on timeout. I’m sure he heard though.

Jetpack's most treasured possessions, on a boat (in our kitchen) avoiding the (invisible) sharks

Jetpack’s most treasured possessions, on a boat (in our kitchen) avoiding the (invisible) sharks

Jetpack’s gotten a pretty solid hold on the blanket fort, on avoiding the sharks that have infested our apartment, and catching our escape-artist-cat (note: carrying her upside-down is the preferred three-year-old method). He occasionally puts on nailpolish and a dress and spins around our apartment, excited by how pretty he is. Then he uses the nailpolish to paint toy cars.

Because no trucks in our house are complete without several colors of nailpolish, paint, and glitter.

Because no trucks in our house are complete without several colors of nailpolish, paint, and glitter.

Dozens of games of Candy Land were had this year. Jetpack has cheated (and announced quite proudly that he was doing so) at Memory AND Go Fish. He’s sent endless text messages, with or without my permission (including pictures! Usually of his fingers, pants, or the not-yet-vacuumed floor).
The alphabet? He’s on that. Numbers? Getting there. Swearing? Mastered.
By that, I mean, I will remember ‘til the day I die when he stood up at the table, wearing nothing but those extra thick underwear for leakage accidents, and, fists clenched, shouted, “Where is my FUCKING end woder?” (This may have been when he was two, technically).
They call it the terrible twos, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually the terrible threes. Two is like stepping into ice cold water. Three is like getting baptized. I’ve heard it said that his next age will be the Fucking Fours, and I have no doubt that that is a correct name.

One of the less blurry Of Jetpack's Photographic Portfolio.

One of the less blurry Of Jetpack’s Photographic Portfolio.

I’ve learned that three was an incredible year for emotions. He melted our hearts the other day, with a picture book from preschool. It had an emoting monster at the bottom, and printed words, with blanks for the kids to finish the story.

I feel proud of…my two dads.
Something that makes me happy is…my dads.

I feel mad when…people take my toys.

D’awwwww.
They’re not all cute emotions, of course. There’s the visceral ones where he goes from smiling cherub to screaming monster quicker than you can shout “birth control,” and for reasons that are puzzling, to say the least. Like the box of squeezy frozen yogurts isn’t actually frozen yet. Like a hard plastic toy that can’t actually bend that way, no matter how much he insists that he wants it to. “But I want to” or even a simple “no” can turn into an end of the world, post-apocolyptic, apologies to the neighbors, hiccuping, gagging, massive shitfit of a tantrum. And the screaming melting violence can go away just by laughing about farts. Or stinky things. Basically, 100% of the time. Wait until he takes a breath, and then…anyway.

This may look like a beach, but it's actually a vollyball court. Ha! Beaches? In Wisconsin? In April?

This may look like a beach, but it’s actually a vollyball court. Ha! Beaches? In Wisconsin? In April?

So here’s my wee little ode to three, and all the bits and pieces that such a trying age has brought our family. It was the third year that I was proud to be Dad, and, a wry smile on my face and a not-endless supply of patience brewing, I am happily looking forward to next one.