Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Monkey in the Mall

I was walking in the mall with my family and Bella suddenly said, “Daddy, there’s a monkey in the mall.” Humoring her, I said, “Wow, that’s pretty cool.”

So we kept walking through Macy’s, past the overpriced T-shirts with skulls on them (who knew Goth would be so fashionable, Ed Hardy?) and soon we were out into the mall. A couple with a pet carrier went past us.

“There’s the monkey again,” exclaimed Bella.

“Honey, that’s a dog,” I replied condescendingly. Many “eccentric” people seem to think their little dogs like to be wheeled around in pet carriers at the mall. I’d seen it many times before. But Bella was not letting up.

“No, it’s a monkey.”

Okay, so now I was interested in seeing what kind of dog could actually look like a monkey. So I caught up to the people pushing the cat carrier. Sure enough, there was a monkey inside. A really, really, annoyed monkey. My first response (in my head) was: What the Fuck?! What type of crazy person owns a monkey, and then thinks the monkey needs to be taken for a walk at the mall in a cat carrier. Clearly the monkey did not agree. He looked scared and agitated.

Now I looked at the couple. They looked like an old Russian couple, and all I could think of were Russian circus performers who sought asylum in America 20 years ago, and somehow managed to convince customs officials to let them keep their monkey. Better than a dancing bear, I suppose.

We kept our distance from the potential star of Outbreak and wondered how far monkeys could really through their shit. Past the fountain, or all the way to Cinnabon? We didn’t stick around to find out.

Next time, when my daughter says something like “I just saw a rocket car” or “That elephant isn’t in his cage”, and we’re in Los Angeles, I will be more inclined to believe her.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sometimes You Just Need a Break

It was building up all week. My wife had gone on a business trip to Seattle, leaving me with both kids for the better part of 48 hours. Now Bella had daycare, so that helped, but the mornings and evenings were pretty tough. I made it clear no one was going to get a bath, including me, in that period. That would have been like playing with fire. If fire was water, and well, you know what I mean.

And yes, I cheated. The first casualty after cleanliness is nutrition. In and Out Burger one night, turkey sandwiches the next. Any longer and we would have had pizza, Chinese food, and anything else that could be delivered and eaten on paper plates. So meals, check. That just left mornings, bedtime, and the eight hours alone with the baby in between. It was a feat of scheduling and patience, and one I almost lost. But I kept explaining to Bella that everything was much harder because Mommy was away and I needed her help and for her to be extra-good. That’s right, I guilt-tripped a four year old, and it worked 70% of the time.

After what seems like two years, my wife was home. All was well and as it should be. But not quite. She then “reminded” me she had a hair appointment after work and wouldn’t be home until later Friday night. I asked her to reschedule it. She said no. Fair enough. But that left me ANOTHER night home alone with both kids on the heels of the business trip. And the baby wasn’t sleeping through the night so I was exhausted and almost out of patience.

Then the coup de grace. On Friday night, as I kept looking out into the driveway every eight minutes to see if my wife was home, the phone rings. It’s my wife, saying she’s going to be at least an hour later since the hair dresser was taking longer than usual. I was so angry I hung up on her. Now, I say I was angry, but I have to say I didn’t really blame her. She could have told the hairdresser “My husband is alone with the kids. Could you please hurry this up so I can get back and help him out?” No sane woman would ever say this. She just wanted to relax in a chair with minimal screaming around her and just zone out for two hours. The bottom line was she needed a break. I totally got it.

Now, when she finally did get home she looked at me and said, “OK, I got this. Why don’t you go see Watchmen?” It was an unwritten rule. One of the keys to keeping sane in the process of raising kids is knowing when your partner has had enough. She knew. I was out the door in under four seconds.

Now Watchmen is a long movie. I felt my whole body unwind as I sat alone in the movie theater. It was quite relaxing as I watched the threat of nuclear annihilation, my favorite character Rorschach brutalize prison inmates, and of course Dr. Manhattan’s large blue nuclear penis. Okay, that made me a bit uncomfortable.

But it was what I needed. I needed a break. When the movie ended I walked slowly back to the car, and then I stopped. I got an ice cream cone. I sat and ate it with the other teenagers. Damn, it was good. Coffee ice cream with chocolate covered espresso beans. Yum. And yet I don’t like to drink coffee. But make it cold and a solid and I’m all over it.

So I got home and felt better. My wife and I both understand that we each need a break sometimes. So be in tune with your partner and know when they need to tag out. Of course, if you both need a break, then it’s time to call the relatives and offer them an all expense paid trip to your house. Act now! Operators are standing by…

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How Strong is Batman?

This question came up as I drove to the airport to pick up my mother. Since the WB took Spiderman off the air, Bella and I have discovered the new show Batman: The Brave and the Bold show on Cartoon Network. It’s cool. It’s got a retro-superhero vibe to it and is brighter and more fun than the other Batman shows. So we were watching it last night on the DVR and as we were driving, Bella said “Batman is really strong.”
“Yes, he is really strong.”
“Is he stronger than you?”
“Yes, I believe Batman is stronger than me.” No sense in lying. Eventually she would probably figure out that Batman was stronger than me. So I posed my own question: “You know who is stronger than Batman?”
We then proceeded to talk about all of the things Superman could pick up, from her baby brother to a building. Finally she asked if Superman was strong enough to pick up the whole world. I said no, but he could fly really fast backwards around the whole world and turn back time. I think that’s where I lost her. That’s okay. One heroic deed at a time.

So I’m slowly introducing her to the DC Universe, and she now knows Green Arrow and Blue Beetle. Although Blue Beetle is really annoying.

I anticipate I will be asked the ultimately question very soon: Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman? That is a discussion for another day and has been raging for nerd-years. Superman is stronger, but Batman always has Kryptonite with him. Yet Superman knows Batman has Kryptonite with him… etc. But I’m looking forward to it. Frankly, I’m curious to hear my four year old’s insight on this.

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