“Buy me some peanuts and …”

Little One climbs into bed and his book request is simple enough: “The baseball book,” he says.
‘Shocking,’ Daytime Dad thinks to himself as he grabs “Fenway Park 123,” which a group of Red Sox players’ wives wrote and illustrated.
It was published in October, 2004, when coincidently the Red Sox completed an improbable postseason run to win their sixth World Series and first since 1918.
The book details how many players are on a field, how many favorite ice cream flavors Wally the mascot enjoys and the seventh inning stretch.
There are 13 pages left in the book but we rarely get to them — “Take me out to the ballgame,” a popular song at the ballpark, is often where Little One drifts out of cohesiveness and into dreamland.
With no regard to tone, Daytime Dad and Little One break into the song. “Take me out to the ballgame, take me out with the crowd. Buy me some —”
“Peanuts,” Little One says softly, “and cracker jacks …”
Daytime Dad, a sports writer by trade, wonders how many kids fall asleep to the baseball anthem.
“I don’t care if I ever get back, ‘for it’s root, root, root for the — ”
“Red Sox,” Little One says softly.
Daytime Dad also wonders if we’ll make it to the end of the song before Little One’s lights go out.
“If they don’t win it’s a shame, for it’s 1, 2, 3 strikes you’re out at the old — ”
Little One’s thumb slides from his mouth. His eyes close and he turns over to one side, burying his head deeper into the pillow. He begins to snore softly.
“Ball game.”

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Little Leftovers: Weekly task

Here are a few idle thoughts as Daytime Dad wonders when Little One #2 will arrive …

  • Little One scurries into the ‘Prime Time’ room at the YMCA, a place where children can play while parents/guardians can go and enjoy/suffer through a workout. Little One reaches the gate, turns around and says, ‘daddy go exercise.’ Daytime Dad can’t help but laugh as he remembers the days when Little One would stand at the very same gate and scream, ‘daddy come back!’
  • Little One lies down for a nap and asks Daytime Dad to sing the donkey song. Daytime Dad has no idea what that is. He’s never sung a donkey song nor made one up, although it’s been added to a list that also includes buying more batteries.
  • Little One no longer enjoys shrimp. Hey, it was fun while it lasted.
  • It’s common for Little One to want to help Daytime Dad with some chores during the week. Every Friday, for example, Little One brings the empty garbage can from the street to the garage by himself. This must be a difficult task because the teenage boys across the street struggle with this each week.
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The perfect hiding spot

It’s Daytime Dad’s turn to hide and he instructs Little One to count to five and close his eyes.
Daytime Dad turns away from the deck overlooking Sebasticook Lake and races toward the garage. Little One counts to one with his eyes opened and the chase is on.
“I’m coming! I’m coming to find you!” screams Little One.
Hide-n-seek is one of a few games/activities that transcend generations. Furthermore, you can play it anywhere with (just about) anyone at any time.
Daytime Dad races to the garage and hopes the Boston Terrier doesn’t give him away.
Right.
The terrier barks and Little One closes in.
Daytime Dad circles the garage and sees an opening up the driveway. It’s the only way out.
“Daddddddddddddddddddy!” screams Little One.
Daytime Dad bolts toward the driveway and behind a corner of the house.
He’s pretty sure Little One didn’t see him. Then again, pretty sure and certain are about as similar as Boston and Honolulu.
Little One is seen still circling the garage. It’s clear, it seems anyway, that Little One feels he has Daytime Dad cornered.
Hardly.
Daytime Dad works his way toward the water from behind the house.
Little One’s voice grows quieter and quieter.
He must be confused.
There are no winners or losers in hide-n-seek, but if there were, Daytime Dad is pretty sure he is undefeated. Daytime Dad has lost an abundance of games over the years, but hide-n-seek was not one of them.
Little One is quiet. Daytime Dad runs from the front of the house back to his original starting spot behind the garage. Little One is certainly following but he’s not close.
Daytime Dad hollers for Little One to give tip him off, but it’s met with silence. Daytime Dad races up the driveway, reaches the side of the house, bolts back down to the water, then back to the deck, then back to the garage.
No Little One.
Daytime Dad hollers again and figures Little One is trying to out-fox a fox.
Daytime Dad races up the driveway, reaches the side of the house, bolts back down to the water, then back to the deck, then back to the garage.
No Little One.
Perplexed, Daytime Dad walks to the house when the front door opens.
“Daddy, what are you doing?” Little One asks.
“Apparently,” Daytime Dad answers, “playing hide-n-seek by myself.”
Luckily, Daytime Dad thinks to himself, there are no winners or losers in this game.

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Batteries, anyone?

The appliance repair technician pulls into the driveway, stops the truck and gets out without much of a wave or greeting.
This is going to be fun, Daytime Dad thinks to himself.
“Do you have batteries?” Little One asks the repairperson, who was beckoned to fix a washing machine.
The technician looks at Little One as if he just grew a fin before his eyes.
“Batteries, huh,” he says.
“Daddy, he needs batteries to fix washing machine,” Little One responds.
Batteries are to this 3-year-old what Windex was to Gus Portokalos in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”: A remedy for just about anything.
Need to change out a light bulb? Get some batteries. The vacuum cleaner is clogged? Get some batteries. The grill won’t start? Batteries. The dog won’t play? BATTERIES!!
Repairperson is shown the way into the laundry room, where the somewhat-new but now-stubborn Frigidaire sits.
Little One follows. He’s not done yet.
“Why do you need batteries to fix washing machine?” he asks.
“I don’t,” repairperson says.
Daytime Dad knows it’d be best to usher Little One out and let repairperson do his job.
But Daytime Dad also knows that the service call is $85 and we might as well have some fun.
“Do you have batteries in your truck?” Little One asks.
“I do, but not for the washing machine,” repairperson answers.
“Why?”
“Because washing machines don’t go on batteries.”
“Why?”
Repairperson laughs a little — or was it a snort, Daytime Dad isn’t sure — and gets to work.
A popular yet often ineffective ploy, repairperson believes that ignoring a 3-year-old will magically make it all go away.
Clearly, he doesn’t have kids. Predictably, the move is an epic fail.
“Why, daddy,” Little One asks.
“I don’t know, ask him, he’s the expert,” Daytime Dad says.
Daytime Dad laughs but then decides to let repairperson off the hook — hey, he is doing a job and doesn’t need to be distracted.
Daytime Dad and Little One exit the laundry room and head toward the garage.
“Daddy,” Little One says, “Let’s play basketball.”
“OK,” Daytime Dad says, “But let me get the batteries first.”

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Dazzled by dump truck

Few things entertain Little One these days like big trucks, tractors and bigger trucks.

After leaving a Dunkin’ Donuts one late morning, we cruise past a parked dump truck in the shopping center’s parking lot.

“A dump truck!” Little One screams. “Let’s go see it!”

Daytime Dad thinks to himself, ‘it’s a dump truck,’ but brakes his vehicle, makes a sharp right turn and pulls up next to the 18-ton behemoth.

Little One is flipping out, easily awed by the truck’s hydraulic awesomeness.

We sit and laugh at one another and then we sit in silence.

A good five minutes pass before Daytime Dad realizes that, indeed, a dump truck has us this captivated.

Moving on. Here’s a couple notes and observations from recent days with
Little One …

• Little One calls Daytime Dad at work and says, “Daddy, I’m crying and I hit the wall.”
Daytime Dad, who after 5 p.m. morphs into Deadline Dad, wonders to himself, ‘literally or figuratively?”

• When Little One gets hungry (or hung-ree, as he says), he tells us, “I want something.” What he really means is, “I want cheese.”

• While riding around this week, an exhausted Little One began to fade like a setting sun. Swaying his head back and forth, he looks at Daytime Dad and requests “the nap song.”
Daytime Dad wrote the “the nap song” a few months back, and it’s sung to the melody of “Are You Sleeping? (Frere Jacques)”)
It goes like this:
“I am tired, I am tired
n-a-p, n-a-p
Going to lie down
Going to take a snooze
for an hour,
maybe two”
What Little One once loathed, he now requests. Daytime Dad happily belts out the song not once, not twice but three times.

It works, as Little One dozes into dreamland by the third go-around.

Next up: A song on hitting walls and maybe another on eating a vegetable or three.

• Little One’s new favorite word is ‘funky.’ Say it to him and he’ll almost assuredly break into a fit of laughter.
Daytime Dad thinks it’s hilarious, too, except when Little One says it repeatedly, which can make the word sound something entirely … different.

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Feathered like what?

"The haircut"

The Little One gets his wish - a fresh haircut

The truck rumbles up the steep driveway and Little One is giddy with excitement.

He doesn’t know where we are, but that hardly matters to this 3-year-old.

“Let’s go daddy!” he yells.

After getting unbuckled, he then utters, “Where are we going?”

“Daddy needs a haircut,” Daytime Dad responds.

“I want a haircut, too!” Little One replies.

“Um, not today,” Daytime Dad says.

“Why, daddy?” Little One asks. 

Daytime Dad ponders explaining that there are (at least) two things you don’t do to Expecting Mom: One, tell her she looks bigger, but in a good way; and, two, take Little One to a haircut without her.

In the interest of full disclosure, Expecting Mom was warned in advance that Little One may indeed find himself in the Big Chair for a fresh cut. She (warily) provided instructions on Little One’s haircut, and they went something like this:

• Make sure the bangs don’t get cut.

• We like the length of his hair.

• Tell her to feather it like Bon Jovi.

Feather it like Bon Jovi?

Daytime Dad decides that maybe Little One’s haircut could wait. We walk into the small studio, greet the hair artist and Little One jumps into the chair.

“I want a haircut!” he bellows with a laugh.

And Little One is in dire need of a trim, as evidenced by the blonde bangs that curl over his brown eyes.

Daytime Dad makes the executive decision: Little One will get his haircut.

“How should I do it?” the hairdresser asks.

“Don’t cut it too short because we do like it longer than shorter,” Daytime Dad says.

“OK,” she replies, although it’s clear she’s more than just a little confused.

“You know, feather it like Bon Jovi.”

“Ohhhh, OK.”

The hairdresser goes to work and Daytime Dad waits his turn, wondering/fearing what his Little One will soon look like.

In the time it takes a 3-year-old to suck down a coconut lollipop, the haircut is complete.

The bangs are intact, the wild mop is tamed and, equally important, he looks nothing like Bon Jovi.

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Good Eats …

The weather was equal parts spectacular and, Daytime Dad thought, long overdue.

An authoritative sun shimmered with all its might, and only a vivid imagination could put clouds in this sky.

It was an ideal time for a Sunday lunchtime drive with the Little One and Expecting Mom.

The destination? Wherever the road – in this case U.S. Route 1 – would take us.
Or Wiscasset, in particular Red’s Eats.

We had never been to the Maine Street eatery before and it seemed like a perfect time to check it out.

Red’s Eats, a lobster shack in downtown Wiscasset, has developed an unparalleled reputation as the place to go for a hot dog, lobster roll or clams.

“And we have our homemade batter,” said Cassandra Bickford, 27, a Wiscasset native who works at Red’s Eats.

Bickford’s grandfather, Al “Red” Gagnon, bought the business in 1977.

“My mom (Cindy Gagnon), my aunt and two uncles run it now,” Bickford said. “And they haven’t changed a thing.”

When asked what is the most popular food at Red’s, Bickford said without hesitation,

“The lobster rolls. We went through eight and a half tons of lobster last year.”

Eight and a half tons? Impressive.

What about the hot dogs, Daytime Dad asks?

“The hot dogs haven’t changed,” Bickford continued. “We haven’t changed the price either. They are $1. They’re popular, too.”

We had never been, but the long summertime lines that are a constant with Red’s Eats, coupled with a few recommendations, piqued our interest.

So off we went.

When we arrived in downtown Wiscasset, we broke for Red’s and quickly got in line, a sense of anticipation growing.

Expecting Mom, needing a place to sit, took Little One down by the river with the hopes of finding a picnic table. Daytime Dad held our spot in line, and devouring a Red’s Eats lobster roll had never before been this close to happening.

And then it happened. We don’t know why or how, but Little One was in a Big Meltdown, the kind only an n-a-p could quell.

Expecting Mom appeared from around the corner with crying Little One in front.

“It’s time to go,” Expecting Mom says.

“Wait, time to go?” Daytime Dad thinks to himself. “We just got here. They have lobster rolls. And hot dogs. Time to go? Really?”

Daytime Dad scooped up Little One, his tears and screams drawing unwanted attention. The meltdown continued as we crossed Main Street en route to the car.
No lobster roll today.

There was some biting, including one that left a fine imprint on the shoulder of Daytime Dad, who inexplicably and regrettably dropped one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words.

Definitely no lobster roll today.

Little One was upset. Expecting Mom was upset.

We arrived in Wiscasset hungry and happy. We left hungry and emotional, a bad combination.

Red’s Eats was going to have to wait for another day.

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Caffeine? Yes (please)

We roll through the drive-thru lane at Dunkin’ Donuts, and Daytime Dad asks for the usual – an iced coffee, decaf, and with milk only.

At the window, Little One subtly – OK, there was nothing subtle about it – tells the Dunkin lady what he would like.

“Coffee!” he screams. “I want a coffee!”

Great idea! If there’s anything Little One needs, it’s a shot in the arm.

 “You want a coffee?” Daytime Dad says.

“YES! YES!” Little One responds. “Coffee is good.”

(Note: Daytime Dad has never given Little One coffee and mom doesn’t drink the stuff. So, he’s either lying or someone pulled a fast one. I’m going with the latter. Paging grandparents … ).

One of Daytime Dad’s favorite sports expressions is “go big or go home.”

“Why stop there?” Daytime Dad says. “How about a double espresso? Or, better yet, a triple? They do those here, right?”

“YEAH!” screams Little One. “I want a ‘press oh.’”

Daytime Dad and Little One leave Dunkin’ Donuts. The coffee was great, and Little One thoroughly enjoyed his … apple juice.

“Maybe next time,” Daytime Dad says, “or, better yet, in 15 years.”

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Little One Leftovers

A few idle thoughts Thursday while planning The Next Big Adventure …

• Why is it that after children’s yoga class the Little One is anything but relaxed? Isn’t this the point, or am I missing something? The Little One participates in a yoga class once a week at a YMCA. He loves it. Daytime Dad thinks it’s great, too.
Some days Little One leaves class pretending he’s a shark searching for its next meal. Other days he’s a skunk, or a (runaway) train, or a giraffe, depending on the activity. Daytime Dad is waiting for the day he leaves the class somewhat centered.

• How many 3-year-olds eat shrimp? This one does, and I can only imagine what’s next.

• Little One wakes up in middle of the night and mutters something inaudible but ends with ‘woods.’ Daytime Dad kisses Little One, holds him close and tells him it’s time to go back to sleep. Daytime Dad then spends what feels like hours wondering what Little One meant.  

• At a recent trip to a meat market, Little One walks in and tells everyone in earshot, and perhaps a few who weren’t, that “we need chicken!” The look from one of the employees made me wish he’d yell it again.

• Little One is more than just a Little Independent these days. There isn’t much he won’t try to do on his own, which Daytime Dad encourages, save for a few instances when time is of essence.

In one of those instances, Little One exclaimed – demanded, actually – that he put his underwear and pants and shoes and shirt on ‘all by myself!’

So the underwear went on backward, as did the pants and shoes.

“I did it!” he yelled.

Daytime Dad gave him the moment.

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Toddler vs. Retriever

Without warning, the puppies – or ‘the puppies!’ as the Little One calls them – bolted out of a nearby yard and barreled into the street.

There were no vehicles coming in either direction, but this was of little consolation to their owner, a protective Maine midwife who values safety.

The Little One and I, having just returned from the YMCA in which we each received a much-needed hour of fun – him playing with Thomas, Percy and the rest of the train gang; Daytime Dad sucking wind on a treadmill – were at our mailbox and well-positioned for what quickly became quite a show.

“Don’t acknowledge them, don’t acknowledge them!” she screamed us.

Right.

Telling a 3-year-old to ignore an excited puppy is like asking a 3-year-old if he/she is ready to leave a playground: pointless.

“Don’t acknowledge the puppies,” I say half-convincingly.

“Why?” he says.

“Because they are naughty!” the owner screams with a laugh. “They have to go inside for a timeout!”

“A timeout?” asks the Little One in a tone that suggests he’s quite familiar with the action. “Daddy, the puppies are naughty. They went into the road. Puppies can’t go in road.”

Daytime Dad responds, “Why aren’t puppies supposed to go in the road?”

Answers the Little One with impressive conviction: “We want (inaudible) safe.”

A somewhat-recent canine IQ test revealed that most dogs are as smart as toddlers.

The test, conducted by author Stanley Coren, showed dogs can learn as many words as 165 words as a 2-year-old. The smarter dogs – border collies and poodles ranked one and two, respectively – can learn as many as a whopping 250. Coren also found that dogs are also adept to problem solving.

 (A quick side note: Our Boston Terrier knows just four, including ‘cookie,’ ‘good girl’ and ‘naughty’. As a result, Daytime Dad decided against checking where Bostons rank).

Labrador Retrievers were No. 7 on Coren’s list, which would make them among the smartest dogs out there and (supposedly) on par with most toddlers.

On this day, however, we’re going to score one for the toddler, who, for the record, had a much stronger grasp of the word ‘stop’ then the barnstorming puppies did.

Most important, however, is that Little One demonstrated he recognized a potentially dangerous situation.

After the show, Little One and Daytime Dad went inside and checked in with Mommy. Little One told her about the puppies and their naughty behavior.

Daytime Dad smiled because, at the very least, a valuable lesson was reinforced.

“Let’s go sleep and take a nap,” the Little One then exclaimed after hanging up with Mom.

Could this day get any better?

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