Making waves, memories

Little One #1 steps to the edge of the pool and without hesitation leaps into the water.
His arms outstretched, he executes a perfect 10 for a belly flop.
If it hurt, he didn’t show it.
The instructor tells him to try and swim he length of the pool.
Daytime Dad, with Little One #2 in his arms, waits in the shallow end.
Little One #1 flails his arms and thrashes the water like a hooked fish resisting capture.
But Daytime Dad isn’t concerned about form, not yet anyway.
For now, the goal is simple: Just make it from one end of the pool to the other.
Little One #1, now five, first took swimming lessons with Daytime Dad when he was 10 months old.
Hard to believe.
Daytime Dad, who got Little One #2 in the pool when she turned six months, is equal parts awed and impressed with how far Little One #1 has come.
He remembers holding him in his arms when floating was about all the little guy could do.
Daytime Dad remembers wondering what it would be like to see Little One #1 swim on his own.
Those days arrived months ago, yet it’s still a surreal experience today.
Little One #1 digs at the water like he’s scooping sand from a box. His goggles partially shield excited eyes.
He makes eye contact with Daytime Dad, which triggers an dogged determination to swim faster.
“Keep going,” Daytime Dad says.
Little One #2 claps.
“Her day will come,” Daytime Dad thinks.
Little One #1 swims closer and his brow creases.
Daytime Dad knows he’s debating whether to stand or not.
“Don’t stand,” Daytime Dad says. “You can do this.”
He doesn’t (stand) and he does (make it).
“Excellent job!” Daytime Dad yells. “You did it.”
It’s a quite a feat, and the moment isn’t lost on Little One #1, who is beaming with pride.
“I did a good job?” he asks.
“You did an amazing job,” Daytime Dad responds.
Little One #1 smiles and jumps in the water.
It’s clear he grasped the sense of accomplishment.
It’s a moment, Daytime Dad thinks, that will forever stay with both of us.

 

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The missing Blanky …

The search began in the kitchen.
Under the table? Behind a chair? In Little One #1’s backpack (hey, it’s happened before)?
No, no and no.
The search proceeded to the living room, then downstairs.
In a pile of laundry? Beside the couch? In the (gulp) stove?
No, no and (thankfully) no.
Daytime Dad wipes the perspiration that’s beaded his forehead.
He races back upstairs, checks two bedrooms and a bathroom, then doubles back to the living room.
“OK,” he thinks, “this is serious.”
Frantic and flustered, Daytime Dad bolts downstairs a third time and finds Little One #1, who is smiling on the couch.
“Where is it?” Daytime Dad asks.
“What?” Little One #1 answers.
“You know,” Daytime Dad responds, this time in a wee bit louder tone. “Blanky. What’d you do with it?”
“Nothing,” he replies.
“No, you did something,” Daytime Dad says. “Where is Blanky. Your sister is trying to nap and she can’t do it without Blankey. Where is it?”
Little One #1 shuffles his feet, pauses and then says, “I don’t know. I didn’t do anything.”
Daytime Dad circles the house again — let’s try the fish tank — but the search still comes up empty.
Meanwhile, an overly tired Little One #2 wants to go to sleep but can’t.
Why?
No Blanky, no sleepy. Period.
The cries from her crib compound the chaos.
“Where is Blanky,” Daytime Dad yells downstairs.
Little One #1 gets up from the couch, clearly amused, and finally responds, “I put it under my bed. I wanted to protect it.”
“Protect it?” Daytime Dad asks. “From what?”
Little One #1 didn’t offer an answer and, truthfully, Daytime Dad didn’t want to hear one, either.
Daytime Dad races back upstairs to Little One #1’s bedroom, completing what is now a legitimate cardio workout, and dives on the floor by the bed.
There, nestled in a ball adjacent to an orange Tyrannosaurus rex, sat Blankey.
Although blue and white, it looked gold to Daytime Dad.
He scoops Blanky up and returns it to Little One #2, who took it with such incredible and impressive force.
Daytime Dad plants a kiss on her head and quickly exits the room, expecting to hear a few more cries.
Instead, silence.
Daytime Dad scampers back downstairs, where a laughing Little One #1 awaited.
“Don’t worry,” Daytime Dad says with a laugh, “your time will come.”

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Elmo, a stuffed sheep and a quest for freedom

Little One #2, sensing the presence of Daytime Dad in the room, rolls over in her crib and shoves a patch of her curls out of her still-sleepy eyes.
She grunts, tries to stand, then falls back into the mattress.
She grunts again, this time with the fury of an untamed animal, and “jail break,” as Daytime Dad calls it, begins.
The jail break, you ask?
It occurs up to three times a day — at morning awakening and twice at naps.
Little One #2, upon arising from what are predominately deep sleeps, is in quite a rush to flee the crib as if it were, well, a jail break.
And, because few prisoners act alone, she’s determined to help the helpless.
She grabs a hold of “Blankey,” a blue-and-white knit blanket that is more a survival tool for her and anyone responsible for her.
She grabs a hold of it, pushing her minuscule fingers through the holes, and shoves it over the crib’s drop side with impressive force.
With Blankey freed, a more determined Little One #2 gains momentum and turns her attention to a stuffed dog.
She picks it up by its face and heaves out of the crib.
“Get them all!” Daytime Dad yells. “Quick, free them all!”
She needs no motivation.
A stuffed sheep is next to go. Elmo, a matchbox car (why is that even in the crib, Daytime Dad wonders) and a stuffed crab follow the sheep and Blankey to freedom.
“You did it!” Daytime Dad says.
Little One # 2 claps her hands, then stretches them out. It is finally her time to flee.
Daytime Dad picks her up, plants a kiss on her forehead and gently puts her down.
Smiling and satisfied, she scampers out of the room, another successful jail break completed.

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We have a walker!

Little One #2 pulls herself up to the couch in the living room, turns around and … slowly … lets go.

Daytime Dad fixes his eyes on the video camera that rests on a desk. It’s tantalizingly close but not quite within striking distance.

Little One #2, who hasn’t quite grasped walking despite previously taking a few steps on her own, holds her hands outstretched to her side like she’s walking on a tightrope at some circus.

Wobbly but undeterred, she spins around and starts her voyage.

The video camera now seems to mock Daytime Dad.

“Come to daddy,” Daytime Dad says as he stoops down to his knees. “Come to daddy!”

Little One #2 takes one step, then two, her mouth gaping wide with anticipation and excitement.

She lets out a giggle-scream and starts wobbling like a bowl of unruly Jell-O.

“Steady,” Daytime Dad says. “Steady.”

Little One #2 takes a third step, which is a bit shakier than the previous two, but she remains upright.

Step four is followed by step five.

Then, sensing what appears to be an imminent fall, Little One #2 gains speed and closes in for a crash landing.

The video camera is, mercifully, forgotten for the moment.

“Come to daddy!” Daytime Dad says.

Little One #2, all 20-plus pounds of her, crashes into Daytime Dad and grabs a hold of his ankles.

“You did it!” Daytime Dad yells. “What a good girl!”

Little One #2 claps her hands in approval. She flashes a smile that will forever resonate.

It took 17 months, but Little One #2, for the first time, is finally a walker.

 

 

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One, two, three … dunk!

Little One #2, who isn’t so little anymore at just more than a year old, latches on to Daytime Dad with a glue-like grip.

She studies the colorful fake fish attached to the ceiling and splashes her legs in the YMCA pool.

She giggles and smacks the water with an open palm.

The swimming lesson, something she’s done for the last six months, is nearing an end.

She gazes around the pool, and then lets out a little laugh when she spots her four-year-old brother, who is wrapping up his swim lesson as well.

Two kids. Two different lessons. One pool.

It is nothing short of remarkable when Daytime Dad can get both Little Ones in the pool at the same time twice a week.

It’s also nothing short of remarkable to see the progress that’s made with each passing week and month.

So here we are, all three of us, owning the pool for another half hour session.

Daytime Dad remembers when Little One #1,  who’s been in a pool since he turned 10 months, dunked for the first time in this same pool. It came shortly after he eclipsed the one year birthday milestone.

Daytime Dad looks at Little One #2 and thinks, “it’s time.”

“Are you ready to dunk?” Daytime Dad asks excitedly.

Little One #2 stares at Daytime Dad, the smile that previously stretched across her face now vanished.

Daytime Dad incorrectly thought she wouldn’t understand the question.

Regardless, Little One #2 was going under for the first time.

Daytime Dad starts the process with a half dunk, submerging Little One #2 in water up to her nose.

She closes her eyes, providing another sign that she was ready to go the distance.

“OK, get ready!” Daytime Dad said enthusiastically.

Little One #2 looked less enthused.

Still, we had come this far …

Daytime Dad gently takes Little One #2 and lowers her into the water.

Dunk!

He brings her back up, shouts ‘hooray!’ (reinforcement is a positive tool after all) and plants a kiss on her head.

Little One #2 isn’t crying – a good sign – but she isn’t exactly craving another shot at submersion.

Still, she did it, and this was no small feat for someone whose age is often referred to in months.

Daytime Dad is proud. And he thinks somehow, someway, she is as well.

 

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Goodbye threes, hello fours

Yes, it’s been awhile.
Too long, indeed.
Truth be told, Daytime Dad spent a few days trying to think of a good excuse for the recent idleness in this space but couldn’t come up with anything.
As Little One #1 would say, “poop!”
OK, that made no sense, but hopefully at least some of this will …
Little One #1 turned (gulp) 4 recently.
A Lightning McQueen party that attracted about 50 cake-gobbling friends and family marked the special occasion.
The bash featured a box car race, a craft project, cake and otherwise pandemonium only 4-year-olds can create.
Little One #1, as anticipated, was in his glory.
Pre-school friends to his right. Others to his left.
He loved every moment of the party.
Daytime Dad, despite needing three full days to recover, loved it as well, albeit for different reasons.
It’s not often Daytime Dad has a moment to observe his children interact with others.
To see how they communicate. To see how they play. To see them size up a crowd. To see them throw cake.
Amidst the chaos, Daytime Dad found a bit of serenity in the maturation of a child who only four short years ago met the world.
The maturation stretches beyond vocabulary, shape recognition and the ability to zip up a coat. It’s more than just singing parts of the alphabet song or dressing himself — although that’s pretty significant.
It’s something far greater. It’s a recognition, however basic, of his world around him. It’s compassion for the well-being of others.
It’s amazing, really, to see and feel the evolution of infant to toddler to little boy.
But here Little One #1 was, on this day, more grown up than ever before.
The threes, just like the twos before them, are indeed gone.
Parts of them will be missed. Others, not so much.
This much is certain: Daytime Dad is ready for the fours.
He thinks.

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The magic of Santa

Little One #1 looks over the wood burning stove and then up at Daytime Dad.
He appears nervous.
“Daddy,” he says, before pausing.
“Yes,” Daytime Dad responds.
“How is Santa going to get down the chimney and into the house?” the inquisitive Little One #1 asks.
“Well, he’ll slide down the chimney and … ,” Daytime Dad says, before pausing as well.
It’s not often Daytime Dad is caught off guard. In fact, he embraces his ability to consistently stay one step ahead of his always-plotting Little Ones.
This is not one of these times.
Daytime Dad sits up right and pretends to cough to buy a little extra time.
The wood stove. How does Santa enter a home through a wood stove?
Think, think, think.
“Daddy,” Little One #1 asks, this time with a sense of irritation in his voice, “how does Santa come down the chimney and get into the house with the stove?”
Think.
As quick as it takes a little boy to throw back a “red” popsicle, Daytime Dad has the answer.
“Magic,” he says.
“Magic?” asks Little One #1.
“Yes,” Daytime Dad answers. “Santa is magical. He can gets down all types of chimneys and uses his magic to get through wood stoves and fireplaces.”
The mood of the room suddenly changes.
“YES DADDY!” Little One #1 screams. “But, daddy, we can’t have a fire.”
“Yes, no fire,” Daytime Dad promises.
“Daddy, promise me you won’t have a fire when Santa comes,” Little One #1 says. “Promise me.”
“OK, I promise,” says Daytime Dad, who wonders just who, exactly, is in charge here.

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