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JoJo

Kids

Little JoJo in the jungle: a tale of survival

December 8, 2017

My oldest daughter – my JoJo – is the second coming of both my face and my fits. And she is struggling to find her place among the elementary elite.

It started when … well it started getting really bad with the arrival of a solution to an 8-year-old dilemma, the Nipit. The Nipit is a genius product my mom discovered through the power of Amazon that’s worn on the elbow and prevents a child from bending their arm enough to get their respective digits to their mouth to suck. While it lacks in discretion – it’s bright, primary colors with loud velcro straps – holy heck it works. I’ve seen my girl with her fingers in her mouth once in the last three months. For a girl who was getting her suck on in the womb, that is nothing short of miraculous.

But, as is the case with most red and blue arm braces, it didn’t take long for the kids at school to take note. It’s different, which means she’s different, which means she’s “weird”, which means she has a giant red target right in the center of her tiny little back. Thus, the bullying began.

I’ve thought about this a lot in the last few weeks, and I’ve come to some clarity. I think the issue is, when we look into our child’s eyes, we see someone different. We see an unborn baby that got hiccups every night during our 9 o’clock show. We see the little human who turned everything upside down in the best, scariest way possible, and made us a mother or a father. We see a toddler whose hair grew in from the back forward and stuck straight up while she watched cartoons on lazy weekend mornings. We see her first birthday and her tricycle. We hear the crinkle of her diaper between thick, wobbly legs coming down the hall and her first words … “dada” of course.

When I look at my daughter, I feel her letting go of my hand on the first day of preschool and her pleading eyes when big change came. I feel cuddles from the best spooner on the planet and hear her telling me, at 4, that she was heading off to college just like Steve from Blue’s Clues. I hear her laugh. I see her crooked, gappy smile and pure, well-intentioned heart. I see a thousand tiny little pieces of myself, with her daddy’s build, walking out the door every single morning.

But that’s what I see. And I am her mother.

What kids see is another little second grader in a sea of 7, 8, 9 year olds, crowding the playground and trying not to do anything odd enough to get noticed. They don’t find her to be special in any of the ways that really count. They aren’t looking for that. They’re looking for different. They’re looking for a crack, an opening. They’re waiting for her to get comfortable enough that she shows something they view as a weakness or an eccentricity. If it lends itself to a nickname or a chant, all the better.

When the tiny opening presents itself, they put their toe in first, maybe a snide comment or whisper to a friend. Then they put in their leg, then torso, and eventually their whole body busts down that door, lashing out with hateful, belittling words that feel so good to them, so empowering. Because kids know no consequence. They know instant gratification and survival of the shittiest. It’s jungle rules out there and everyone is potential prey.

In his book, “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen”, Christopher McDougall wrote: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

I send my little girl out the door every morning as this special ball of memories and potential, and the second she steps off the porch she’s reduced to bait. And do I blame the kids being unkind? Hell no! They’re just relieved they aren’t the girl with the brace on her elbow. And I totally get it.

Because no one wants to be that girl. Growing up, I had spacey, jagged teeth and a swoopy, horrible set of bangs for a good few years. I had girls pass notes to my BFFs saying they shouldn’t play with me anymore. I had days where I curled up in my mom’s arms, as she rubbed my back in her mustard yellow fabric covered rocking chair with the melodic squeak. Ask any adult and they can name their bully. If they can’t, they were the bully. It’s a rite of passage in some ways. Unfortunately. Stupidly.

It all came to a head recently, as one particular girl turned up the torment on my babe. We’ll call her Delores for the sake of anonymity and movie trivia. Delores has a girl gang. They think JoJo’s a big baby for sucking her fingers (predictable, easy), and they make sure she knows it on a daily basis. We’d been doing the usual coaching behind the scenes … Don’t fight hate with hate … The meaner they are, the kinder you should be … If you feel sad, tell a teacher … Just ignore her … Maybe she was having a bad day or she’s sad about something. Nevertheless, it persisted.

It persisted until earlier this week when JoJo decided to express herself about it. In a drawing. On the back of her homework. Where she’s throwing a bat at Delores’ head. And it’s labeled “JoJo’ and “Delores”. Needless to say, her teacher wasn’t thrilled.

Spike was waiting by the door for me that evening. “Mom, I’m not going to tell you what’s going on, but I will tell you that JoJo got in trouble and she has to go see the counselor tomorrow and if the counselor wants to, she can send JoJo to the principal’s office.” I walked into the living room to find my little criminal, sitting on the couch, red streaks from old tears subtle on her pale cheeks.

“You’ve taken a situation where someone was bullying you,” I explained, “and turned it around so that you are now the one doing the bullying. Do you see why this is wrong?” She nodded, her bottom lip curving down like a fat, grumpy fist in an animated feature. JoJo is certainly my creative chick, and this devilish doodle was, I’m certain, just a way for her to express her frustration, but regardless, it’s not how we roll.

Her teacher referred her to the school counselor, which, to be honest, I was a little relieved about. Finally! A professional can step in here! Somebody equipped with a degree and Inside Out dolls.

The day she was scheduled to meet with the counselor, JoJo was pacing the kitchen, whining. “I don’t want to go to the counselor’s office, Mama. I’m scared. What if I get in trouble?” I challenged her to be brave, and to be honest. I challenged her to step up to all the feelings of anger and sadness and loneliness she’s been feeling and share them with a grownup who could help. (And who she’d listen to more than her own mother.)

And then, I watched her step off the porch and go back out into that dark, vast jungle. Exposed and vulnerable and wearing her Nipit like a juicy, raw steak around her neck on the grasslands. A giant piece of my heart went right onto the bus with her and drove away.

I thought about her all day. I waited for the phone to ring. Maybe the principal would call and say she was suspended for the drawing. A black blemish on her spotless record. Maybe the counselor would call and tell me what a bad mother I was for waiting so long to alert them to the situation. Maybe her emotions would swallow her whole and I’d have to come get her.

But the phone never rang, and soon it was 5 o’clock.

I can always read the general temperature of our household within seconds. When something is wrong with one of the kiddos, it’s like walking into a room carrying balloons and a birthday cake after everyone else was just told someone died. So on this day, I was very tentative coming in from the garage.

“Hi, Mama!” JoJo greeted me. My whole body unclenched.
“Hi, JoJo!”
“Mom, I met with the counselor today and it was great. I didn’t get in trouble for the drawing and she told me I should tell Delores that what she’s doing is hurting my feelings.”
“Right. That’s great, JoJo!”
“Yeah, I feel so much better! Can I call Dad and tell him?”
“Of course.”

And just like that, progress. A touch of healing for a wounded little soul. She would live to roam the prairie another day.

I, of course, immediately sat down to type a teary note of appreciation to the school counselor, positive she had no clue how thankful I was for her 5-minute pep talk with my daughter. Positive I was being a little over emotional and positive I didn’t care a lick.

And the rest of this week has been better, though I know it’s not the last we’ll hear of Delores and her girl gang. The oldest child is such an experiment. They bring this stuff home to you, and you never know whether they’re being transparent or dramatic. You don’t know what’s normal and what’s a five-alarm fire. All you have to go on is your instinct and your own experiences as a child. (I mean, aren’t we all just projecting our childhood onto our own kids anyway?)

You just want to scream from the top of the school gymnasium, [in the voice of an Indian chief] “This is my daughter, JoJo! She is strong and funny and would be a really great friend! I am proud of her! And if you screw with her, I will squash your milk carton in your tiny horrible face.” But that’s not considered acceptable grownup behavior.

It will always be hard to hear. I’m the one who carries her stories, and because of that, I know what a treasure she is. I have the backstory. I’m invested, mostly because I grew her.

I’m the one who knows she called penguins “herbies” for years, even though everyone thought she was saying “herpes”. I’m the one who put her hair in long, flowing pigtails and cut the feet out of her penguin jammies so she could wear them a few months longer. I am in this thing for the long haul.

And I could sell her good points like popsicles on the Fourth of July. She likes to climb really tricky trees and eat Nutella straight from the jar and she can sing every word to every song from Descendents 2. She dabs like a boss. She’s a talented artist and can turn any strawberry into a rose too beautiful to eat. She always wears two layers of clothing, even in the summer, and changes into her pajamas within an hour of getting home from school. She did hygge before hygge was a thing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be friends with that girl?

There aren’t a lot of choices here. She has to keep going to school and I have to keep watching her step off our porch, bait though she may be. I can’t change the dichotomy of children, the hunters and the hunted. I can’t make my daughter’s skin thicker, no matter what I feed her at home. The only thing I can do is rock her when she wants me to and keep track of her stories, so she always has someone to remind her just how special she is. Someone who’s invested. Someone who isn’t going anywhere. Someone who, after all the deep lessons have been offered and her worries put to rest, will turn away from tiny ears and say the thing that everyone really wants to say.

“Ah, screw Delores!”

JoJo Just Said, So Says Sloppy Joan, Spike Speak

Sisters say what? (Vol. 5)

March 7, 2017

We laughed to our guts! – Spike

I love to drink my tears. – Spike

JoJo, your face looks funn- [turns and runs into wall]. – Spike

It’s like raining snow! – Spike

Is “whore” another word for “seat”? – Spike

Are we cheering for the Steelers or the Takers? – Spike

I wish you were little, and you were my sister and you looked like you, but smaller. – Spike

Did you know grass is Mother Nature’s hair? – Spike

She laughed so hard she cracked herself out! – Spike

I think my eyes were playing tricks on your mouth. – Spike

See … isn’t having kids fun? – JoJo

Uncle Map is a kiddish grownup. – Spike

I’m having a lot of “excuse mes” today – Spike

Love isn’t just a word. It’s a feeling. – Spike

I wanna wear my bathing soup! – Sloppy Joan

Mom, can I tell you a secret? I’m the class helper a lot and I have to hand out markers. And when I hand out the markers, can I tell you the secret part? I give people markers that match their shirts. If they’re wearing blue, I give them blue. But if they’re wearing white, I have to give them a black marker or some other color. – Spike

Mom, you know, some grownups are smaller than teenage kids because they have shrunken. It’s not their fault. They just get smaller sometimes. – Spike

Is that for your things? – Spike,
Yes – Me
Oh. … Like, it holds them down?
Kind of. It holds them still.
Oh. … But I don’t need one yet, right? Because my things are so small.
Right. But you will when you’re bigger.
Right, like when my things are hangy.
Uh huh.

Do all the hookers have head lamps? – Spike

Mom … Mom, I have to tell you something. No, in your ear. [I bend down] I forgot underwear – JoJo, wearing Umbros at her co-ed basketball game

If you were a seahorse, you’d come out of your dad’s tummy. It’s true. – Spike

Does my bathing suit look like a lea-tart? – Spike

A lot of animals are made out of meat. So I say care for the honeybees, care for the birds, care for the everything. Even animals that don’t make food, I’m still saying to care for even all the animals. Even the ones that attack Mother Nature. – Spike

Dad, what’s that sound? – Sloppy Joan
What sound, babe? – Hank
That car sound.
What car sound?
That boom shakka lakka.

Did you pick up upstairs? – Me
I think we can do more. – Spike
How’s it looking’ up there? – Grammy
Ahhh, i don’t know if you heard me say, there’s more we can do. – Spike

Wanderlust

It’s Tampa bay for this buccaneer

February 9, 2017

I love my husband.

I do.

You won’t find a better human walking this earth. But homeboy is one lucky son of a biscuit that my love language isn’t gifts.

In our 15 years together, he’s gifted me on various birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases and Valentine’s Days with such treasures as a rubber ducky from his school bookstore, long underwear (a few times), a mini muffin pan and, most recently, Microsoft Office. Now that’s not to say he hasn’t had some real winners in there, too. He has. But none sexier than Excel. I mean … you guys, merging cells, sorting, formulas …

And here I am giving him lemons like this:

“Why didn’t he just say it out loud?” a coworker and mutual friend asked.
“Huh?”
“You should always say things like that out loud. ‘I got my wife Microsoft Office for her birthday.’ I feel like he would have done things differently.”

Every holiday is caked in suspense. What will he come up with next, I wonder. He’s a thinker, my husband, and he lives in a literal world. It’s part of what I love about him.

So, this year, on Christmas morning, when he excitedly handed me a small cardboard box and told the girls Mama was going to open “the one,” I immediately started running through the possibilities in my head. An attachment for the Kitchenaid? A bug net? A set of encyclopedias? No. It was a foam airplane. Taped to the bottom of the box was a picture of me and my friend, Nissa.

“Oh, is Nissa coming here?” I asked.
“No, you’re going there.”
“What?!”
“In February.”
“I am?!”
“Yes.”
“But, I’ve never flown by myself …”
“It’s a direct flight. Really easy.”
“But … oh my gosh!”
“Well, I asked the girls what we should get you and JoJo said, ‘Mom needs a break,’ so we decided to send you away for a weekend.”

Does this make my child incredibly observant and sensitive to others, or has all of my bitching and yelling over her seven years of life resulted in her recognizing my borderline psycho personality, thus prompting her to suggest shipping me off? I’m still not sure.

I immediately picked up my phone. I wasn’t sure if the time was different in Florida. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

“I’m coming to Florida!” I messaged.
“I know! Are you excited?!” Nissa replied.
“Yeah! I just can’t believe it!”

I thought I’d seen every play in Hank’s playbook, but this was entirely unexpected. One of my resolutions was “less things and more experiences,” so my old man’s yuletide treat was right on time. But I was admittedly nervous.

“Your mom and brother told me you’d hate it.” Hank said.
“Really?”
“Yeah. They said you’d feel guilty and hate the travel.”
[both true.]
“Oh, gosh, no I love it.”
[also true.]

How does a woman go 34 years without taking one of the most popular forms of long-distance transportation alone, you ask? I don’t know. I mean, I’ve just always had someone with me. And I prefer it that way. You might recall I have special eyes, so navigating the unfamiliar can be tricky. I also have another disorder I don’t talk about much. Chickenshitosis. I’m often frightened by things that are generally completely harmless and part of being a grownup.

The weeks passed quickly, as all weeks do after your third child, and soon I was packing my carry on for my long weekend in Tampa.

A bit about Nissa. I know this pretty gal from the Sunshine State through my previous employer. After my first day on the job, I went home and told my husband that there was a girl about my age, but I didn’t think she was necessarily interested in making friends. Turned out, she was just monotoned! We grew close as crossed eyes pretty quickly. She was the graphic designer. I was the copywriter. We pitched a blog and then spent months taking trips where we found creative ways to expense food crawls around New York City (“It’s what our target demographic would do!”) and attending conferences with castmates from Laguna Beach and the likes of Rachel Zoe.

After about four years collaborating during work hours and bonding over Bachelor finales in our free time, Nissa told me she was moving back to her home state. I hated Florida for a hot second. She came in for a visit shortly after I had Sloppy Joan, but that was it,aside from emails and SnapChats, for years. In fact, she had a whole child in the time that passed since our last meeting. She became a mommy. And has another on the way.

The most important thing to know about Nissa is she loves food. This Scandanavian can throw down on some grub, lemme tell ya. If I had to pick someone to plan my last meal on this planet, and I got absolutely no say in it, I would pick Nissa. She’s the girl who knows which restaurant specializes in sardines three ways and which one makes pasta strictly from the hair of angels, and so on. I’ve gone on at least six trips with her that I can think of off the top of my head, and she picked the restaurants we dined at in every single city. She never misses. She started sending links to restaurants about 3 weeks out. I couldn’t wait.

I arrived in Tampa without incident Friday afternoon. It’s always so surreal when you set eyes on someone you haven’t seen in awhile. Like your pupils have to adjust to their familiar face. Not surprisingly, she told me we were heading to South Tampa for tacos and margaritas (just for me, because, you know … bun, oven) at bartaco.

“Do you want to sit outside?”
“Yes!” Always yes. I had left 32-degree days behind me and I wasn’t about to stare at the sun through a window.

We got some magical combination that included spicy cucumbers, a special slaw, 6 tacos, 2 tamales and guac with giant tortilla chips. I also treated myself to a pomegranate margarita. While we dined al fresco, catching up and reveling in the fact we were sitting across from each other, my sweet friend informed me she was waiting to hear if she got a new house. She did. We found out around the time we polished off the guacamole.

This was cause for celebration! (Not that we needed cause.)

We left lunch and hit two sweet spots in less than an hour. Don’t show up if you can’t keep up, OK? There was an adorable new gourmet ice pop shoppe across the street, The Hyppo. Prego went for salted chocolate and I picked up an avocado coconut option that belonged in my belly. It was heavenly. I swallowed it entirely within 3 minutes. My popsicle partner, however, was multitasking. I watched, amused, as she held hers in her mouth and texted her mortgage broker. It would melt and drip. She’d curse. Then she’d put it back in her mouth to send a new text and the insanity would repeat. Don’t waste it! Was what felt right to say at the time.

Next stop? Sprinkles … but these were for later. We aren’t wild animals! We opted for Dark Chocolate Banana for Nissa, Maple Bacon for her hubs, and a Chocolate Marshmallow for me. It was 70-something degrees and times were good.

We stopped by her new digs for some proper surveillance of the situation. The house was beautiful. One thing I find amazing about Florida architecture is how much it differs from house to house. You’ve got your beach bungalows, you’ve got your Spanish colonial revivals, you’ve got your modern mansions, you’ve got your Georgian-style homes. Dare I say I even saw Tudors! It’s all just hangin’ out … mingling. I mean, I like it. There aren’t pockets necessarily. It’s just a giant junk drawer of kickass houses.

Just when I couldn’t take the waiting anymore, we went to pick up Nissa’s little girl. She was cuter in person than in the 9 trillion SnapChats I’d seen her in before that day. There’s a magic in seeing a friend as a mom for the first time. It’s like all of the sudden you feel this energy of shared struggles and consuming love for your little nuggets. And it’s beautiful. Nissa used to stay at our house occasionally and JoJo always wanted to sleep with her. She would play with the girls and dance with the girls. She threw me a baby shower when Spike was on her way. She was an honorary aunt made of all the best stuff. So seeing her here, now, with this towheaded toddler made my heart swell.

Saturday morning brought breakfast and nail painting. I slapped some polish on my new little friend’s tiny fingers and took her on laps around the pool so they could dry in the sun. The funny thing about people who live in Florida, is they forget how delightful the sun is. As soon as it appeared, I was like a poodle at the back door. I couldn’t wait to get to it. The warmth on my skin was like sloppy angel kisses. I turned my face toward the glow and soaked in the soothing heat with my new petite sweetheart.

Nissa and her husband Alexis have a boat (name TBD). Their neighborhood connects to a channel so getting to the bay is a breeze. Right before we left their house to ship out, at the very last minute, I decided to throw my bathing suit on, just in case. Nissa packed up some Trader Joe’s truffle cheese and beverages and we made our way out onto the brilliant blue water.

Now, I’m from lake country. We have our boats tied to docks and we take those boats out for a couple of counter clockwise laps around the modestly sized body of water a few times before we tie the boat back up to the dock. When your boat goes into water that feeds into an ocean, there are no laps. We could have sped across the surface forever. We parked for a bit in the bay and broke out the snacks. I had a beer and a glass of wine, while the little one stuffed handfuls of truffle cheese into her mouth. Seagulls came. They told their friends and more seagulls came. I started to feel a twinge of pee moving in.

There were two pregnant women on the boat – Alexis’s sister and husband came along – so I figured it was only a matter of time before someone had to relieve themselves and I could see how it was done here. But no one said a word. We decided to cruise some more. As the shoreline got farther and farther away, my bladder started to scream. We hit bumps, I squeezed every muscle from the waist down. We turned, I clenched. As soon as the deafening noise of the motor went to a whisper, I mouthed to Nissa that I was moments from pissing myself.

“Oh no!” she offered. “Alexis, we have to pull over!”

But we couldn’t just pull over. We were right next to a bridge that was also a highway. And boats were coming up quickly behind us.

For 15 additional agonizing minutes, as we coasted to calmer waters, I battled the urge to just succumb and turn on the faucet. As soon as we reached the canal, I knew the hour was upon me. I darted to the rear end of the boat – nearly taking out Nissa’s pregnant sister-in-law – put my feet on the ladder off the back and let my butt kiss the water’s surface. There, in the Tampa bay, in front of million dollar condos, a pair of people I’d met only hours before, a boat full of old fishermen and my sweet host family, I proceeded to pee for no less than 10 straight minutes. All I could think was A) This would be mortifying if it didn’t feel so damn good, and B) Thank God I put my suit on. No one knew where to look. It was the best of times and the worst of times.

We got home in time to get cleaned up for our lady date. We were putting on makeup and we were going to eat somewhere fancy. We went to edison in South Tampa. If I could actually describe the pork belly BLT appetizer and peanut butter dessert we had there and come even close to doing it justice, I would. But I can’t. You’d just have to taste them. Aside from the bomb ass dinner, we did get a show as well. I don’t know what it was about the table behind us, but it was just full of characters. First up … a couple who was beyond interested in my Korean Chicken and Waffles entree.

“Oh, look at that … she got the chicken and waffles.” the woman said, less than one foot away from me.
“Oh man, that does look amazing,” her partner added for good measure.
“Is that a sauce on there? That’s a sauce on there.”
“It looks so interesting. I bet it’s good.”
“What kind of sauce do you think that is, hon? A sweet sauce? A spicy sauce? I wonder …”
“I don’t know, hon! Sure looks wonderful.”

This went on for a few minutes until I finally turned around, smiled, and said, “I know, I’m pretty excited about it, too.” And they felt satisfied.

At some point, this duo parted and a new pair entered the scene. I don’t know what sparked their argument (I thought I heard him say “sister”?) but the newcomers behind us got into the biggest, ugliest, most brutal fight. She tried to get up and leave, he convinced her to stay and what followed was the most tense series of photobombs in history. (See examples below).

It was a treat sitting in a restaurant, out of our sweatpants, catching up about her trip to Italy, our marriages and our goals. I text and email Nissa regularly, but nothing can replace the lost art of face-to-face chatting with a great girlfriend. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Sunday funday! We went to Ulele in downtown Tampa. Because we are about eating all of the things, I will tell you that I had a beet and pear salad with whipped goat cheese that changed something in my mouth permanently. I then murdered two lobster rolls and polished it all off with maple and bacon ice cream that was coated in cornflakes. If you’re thinking, “That sounds good,” you would be damn right. It was. It all was.

We left to take little Miss to the splash pad next door to the restaurant. The water was straight-from-the-hose cold, and homegirl wasn’t feelin’ it. The sun was relentless, beating down on my reflector-white forearms. I knew I was burning, but I just didn’t care. We took the long way home, down Bayshore Dr., and I enjoyed my zen-like vacation high.

Even more so than deciding who gets to square dance with Ryan Reynolds, the truest test of friendship is whether your girlfriend is willing to get up at 5:20 in the morning and take you to the airport. Mine was, and she did. It was dark and chilly and, knowing my flight anxiety, she even offered to come in and usher me to the right line. “No, Mom, I should be able to figure it out.” I felt turdy for being so scared to get to my gate.

We hugged. Twice. And I felt some hot tears tapping on the back of my broken eyes. Time for takeoff.

I had been reading “Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail” for the first part of my trip, but decided to switch to “The Universe Has Your Back” by Gabrielle Bernstein for the flight back. I read almost the entire thing, which, let’s be real, when was the last time you ever sat down and just read an entire book, cover to cover? “I can’t remember,” said every mom ever.

The premise of the book, and I’m paraphrasing here, is that ultimately you get back what you put out into the universe. If you look at the universe as your teacher rather than this thing you want to control, but can’t, you’ll be in much better shape when it comes to facing fear and uncertainty. I found it incredibly timely considering my current Facebook feed. Come at things from a place of love, not fear, and you will see change in your life, and in the climate around you. It was a really good read. I’ll get into it more down the road maybe. The ironic part was I was trying so hard to zen out and get into the Spirit Junkie vibes, but the woman in the middle seat was breathing her morningness all over me. It was a difficult mental exercise.

I landed and got my luggage without incident. Hello, world! I am a grownup now! On the way home, I stopped at the grocery to pick up a few things and smirked at how naturally we fall back into our roles. I stepped off the plane and right back into my mom jeans … I mean Toms … I mean … something cool that moms wear.

I have to say thank you to Hank and JoJo for treating me to this mini break. Thank you, sweet girl, for recognizing that I am human and that I work hard. Thank you, Hank, for showing our chicks what a supportive spouse really looks like. I can only hope they end up with a partner as exceptional and practically perfect as mine.

Wheels up! (That’s something people who fly a lot say.)

Laughs

Sisters say what? (Vol. 3)

July 8, 2016

I peed my pants! No, wait, just some rain snuck in there. – Spike

It smells bad in Sloppy Joan’s room. She pooped so hard! – JoJo

Pretty much anyone who wears a wedding dress looks like Queen Jelly. – Spike

But if I tell on him for hitting, I’m gonna get a tattle tail. – Spike

I had to go to the nurse because my feet hurt and all I had for lunch was an apple. – JoJo

I drank it up in a jippy! – Spike

Girls Suits

Ya know, they make Huggies so much easier now. At least that’s what the commercial said. – JoJo

Oh my gosh, Mama, today Johnny fell and I laughed to my death! – Spike

It’s actually good to toot or fart because it warns you that you need to go to the bathroom. – JoJo

What’s the story with this peanut butter jar in the sink? – Me
Oh, I know! Once there was a jar and it fell and cracked its nut. – JoJo

I can’t wait to get cold knees. – Spike

I want to be an art teacher when I grow up. – JoJo
Ask God if you can. – Spike
I might forget cuz it’s awhile until you have a job. – JoJo
Well, God will remember. You are a really good artist. – Spike

Dad, you know that’s called a wee wee … what you have. What kind of plant is this? So, anyway, yeah, you have a wee wee. – Spike

I know how to spot buzzards … pterodactyls … and robins. Oh, and eagles! – Spike

IMG_3198

How’s your pull-up? – Me
Good. There’s just a gallon of pee in it. – Spike

If anyone breaks these I will cry to my death! They’re my pets. – Spike, holding a jar of seashells

This lake is full of allergy! – JoJo

That’s my role model! – Spike, seeing a picture of her from a marketing photo shoot

I love you. – Me
I love you. – Spike
I love you more. – Me
That’s great. – Spike

Michael had a hooley hoop today. And he watched on me while I hooley hooped, too! – Spike

Peter Pan is so handsome. I love everything he has going on. – JoJo

Those are chocolate cows! – Spike

I’m going to fall in love and marry Travis. He likes me, I like him. He’s really silly and would be a good dad cause he’s handsome and funny and would make the kids laugh. I know everything about him. He’s six and a half, he’s lost six teeth, and sometimes he gets hurt. – JoJo

My fingers taste funny. They’ve tasted funny since I showered at Kay’s. – JoJo

Mom, my dream taught me how to do a bun! And I was so excited that I peed.” – Spike

Sadie is my lover dog. She just loves me so much she wants to hold my hand. – Spike

Mom, nothing is impossible if you believe. [man belch] – Spike

If your heart beeps stop, you could be dead. Because, you know, the beeps make the blood go around. – Spike

Bonus!

Hattie Choke

Kids

Everything I need to know, I learned from JoJo going to kindergarten

June 2, 2016

Last Friday my oldest chick closed the book on her first year of elementary school and, as quickly as it came, kindergarten was over. She walked away with fewer teeth, a broader vocabulary and a whole new set of social skills. More times than I can count, as we sat conversing around our dinner table, JoJo would offer some emotional nugget that, if I really thought about it, correlated to some grownup social dilemma in my circle. See if you draw the same comparisons …

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Be resourceful (and when deemed necessary, game the system).
About 3 months into the school year I got a call from the school nurse. “Hi there. I have JoJo here in my office and she is not feeling well. She doesn’t have a fever and we’re giving her a bit of Gatorade and letting her close her eyes.” She then cupped her mouth and drew the phone closer to say, “I really think somebody’s just not having a good day. This is the second time she’s been down here in 2 days.” As the year pressed on, there were more casual mentions of the nurse’s office. She had a hang sesh with her cousin there, she had her bud walk her down during art class, she went there for an ice pack because her knees hurt from running so much … I realized that something I’d been taught in my leadership classes might apply here – I was not asking the right questions. Once I began my subtle interrogation, I learned that, not only did the nurse have Gatorade, she also had Sprite, crackers and a sweet dose of one-on-one TLC. It’s like a 5-star luxury resort compared to, say, gym class. I couldn’t fault the girl for wanting an afternoon spritzer and siesta. If anything, I was impressed.

This was not the first or the last time my baby would go scamming for groceries. We get alerts when her lunch money funds are dwindling. “That’s odd,” Hank said, after I relayed that I’d received a low balance email from the school. “I just loaded like 50 bucks onto that thing a few weeks ago.” Turns out, you can log in and see your child’s spending history. Turns out, JoJo likes to add on a cookie, like every single day. Turns out, Doritos are just a little bit extra. Turns out, a cheese stick makes a great side. We were looking at page after page of incriminating purchases, accumulating 25 cents at a time. When I asked her about her a la carte selections, she informed me that you just ask the woman at the cash register to throw one on your tray and you’re good to go. She had no clue she was getting charged, and no clue we’d ever find out. Hank smiled that smile he smiles when one of his girls does something he finds endearing and just said, “I love it. I hope she always just goes for what she wants.”

Drama is relative.
At my age, a scandal typically involves inappropriate behavior, maybe some rage and always a few really bad decisions. For JoJo, the biggest scandal of the 2016-2017 school year came when she climbed to the top of the playdome, got yelled at by another kindergarten teacher and – wait for it – was sentenced to 5 minutes on the wall. I walked onto the playground to pick her up and straight onto OJ’s side of the courtroom. There were 3 criminals in the lineup, each more eager than the next to argue their innocence. We went to the car for a recess. “She’s just so interested in me and she doesn’t need to be interested about me!” she screeched with a blotchy red face. I’d never seen her so heated. “Listen, babe, regardless of what you think of her, she’s a teacher and she deserves your respect. You were probably doing something you knew you weren’t supposed to do, right?” “Maybe, but –” “And you can’t get in trouble if you’re always doing the right thing, right?” “Yes, but–” “OK, then let’s move past it.” But she couldn’t. It rocked her world like an old boyfriend showing up as a contestant on The Bachelorette or a late-in-life baby surprise would rock mine, and I gotta respect that.

Sleep is underrated.

The adjustment to full-time student had its hiccups, but perhaps the biggest was how much it wore our little bug out. One night at dinner, JoJo told us that she fell asleep in class and her teacher just let her sleep because she knew, “she really needed that nap.” Let’s face it, there are days (like every Tuesday) when you just want to put your head down on your desk and droll all over the TPS reports. I love that her teacher let that little snooze slide.

It’s who you know.
There are three battle grounds for grade school children: The cafeteria, the playground and the bus. I can still remember that first day I sat in my car and watched my delicate, dainty 6 year old take that first steep step up into the yellow tunnel of terror on wheels. She looked so petite grabbing the railing to hoist her tiny cakes up, only to slide quickly into the very front seat. That August evening I asked her who she sat with. “Nobody,” she replied. “I don’t know any of the older kids and they’re so loud.” But by the end of the second week, my girl was running that joint. What changed? Her two older cousins started hitching a ride a few times a week. To make matters even better, they were at her after-school program as well. Before I knew it she was regurgitating all of the fourth grade gossip and telling me fifth graders, “had her back.” Had her back from what, I don’t know that I want to know, but I certainly appreciated the support. #squadgoals

Stress and pain both pass eventually.
Do you ever watch your kids experience something and it brings back every distinct smell, thought and feeling you experienced at that age? For me, one of those things is this loose tooth nonsense. I detested the tooth-losing process. The initial wiggle, the tireless tongue prodding, the mental turmoil of committing to pull the little bastard out and then the sight of that alien formation with bloody points that just detached from part of your body. Those meager little calcium nuggets revealed every Fruit Roll-up, every Swiss Cake Roll, every Milk Dud, and left behind only a slight crater to take over the madness. Now I’m reliving the oral horror with JoJo. I feel her anxiety about the process transferring to me. We’ve gone through this 3 – one hard apple shy of 4 – times now and it’s always the same. She recognizes the wiggle that sent the baby tooth past the point of no return (typically because there is blood). This sends her down an emotional spiral of will-it or won’t-it hysteria. It comes out and she screams over a pain that she perceives in her mind and then instantly begins smiling at the realization that said pain actually never existed and the entire process is over. Thus, our heart rates can decline, the Tooth Fairy can make her triumphant appearance and we can all live to experience the roller coaster ride another day.

Compassion always counts.
Of all my aspirations for them, two of the characteristics I so badly want to instill in my chicks are compassion and empathy. The world is so fast and so careless. It’s important to me that they really see people and go out of their way to help when it matters (and it always matters). On our star chart we have a row for “Did something kind,” and I ask the girls what they did to help someone that day. If I feel satisfied with their answer, they get a magnetic star. Spike typically says things like, “I told Johnny that he was not a butt face.” But I always looked forward to JoJo’s answers once she started school. There are so many opportunities to extend grace at that age. She would say things like, “Taylor is getting a new baby sister and I gave her a hug,” or “Sonya was sitting alone at library, so I moved to her table” But my favorite was when she told me she escorted Anthony down the hall after he puked in gym. Because sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and take you to the nurse after you blow chunks in front of a room full of people. With no judgment.

Embarrassment is temporary (but brutal).
I can still remember, when I was in fifth grade, I thought it would be “cool” if I opened my bedroom window and sat in it. I cranked it out, removed the pesky screen and let the tips of my toes meet the steep shingles below. My on-again off-again “boyfriend”‘s dad, who lived directly behind us, came bursting through his back door and screamed, “Get outa the window, kid! What the hell are you thinking?!” To this day when I see him I picture him shouting at me from his deck. I was so scared he was going to tell my parents, or my little boyfriend. But more than all that, I was so, so embarrassed. I didn’t know what I was doing was dangerous. Hell, that was where all the heroines in the movies went to look at the stars and sort through their thoughts.

So, as we parents often do, I made sure to hand down the same humiliation to my JoJo. On an evening bike ride she turned right in front of a car. Without thinking, I did what any model mother would do. I verbally assassinated her precious spirit in the center of the cul-de-sac. In front of anyone within earshot. I certainly wasn’t mad at her. I was frightened out of my mind and the words just sprinted up my trachea and exploded out of my mouth. She was quiet the entire ride home. When we walked through the door she collapsed in the entryway, with her knees up by her ears and her elbows crossed over top to hold her head. “What’s wrong, honey?” I inquired, ignorant to the fact that, although the pedals between the incident and our driveway had erased the confrontation for me, she was entirely mortified. “I’m embarrassed!” she sobbed as she lifted her head. And I went right back to my window ledge. I knew exactly how she felt. “I’m sorry,” I offered. “But you are the most important thing to me and it terrifies Mommy when I think you might get hurt. I shouldn’t have yelled like that.” As disconcerted as you might be, this, too, shall pass, little bird.

We all just want to be accepted.
It always feels better to be included than excluded. And, gosh dang it, when 8 girls are playing ninjas and there’s no room for 9, or they tell you swinging is stupid, it feels like someone kicked your puppy. I don’t know a single parent who hasn’t wanted to throw a stranger’s kid’s sucker in the dirt for ignoring or belittling their child on the playground.

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No one likes an empty bucket.
There are occasions when children  say things far more profound than the most educated, enlightened adults. One evening, as I was whipping up a 4-course Taco Tuesday extravaganza, JoJo and Spike started fighting, which is crazy, because that never happens. (That italics indicates major sarcasm.) Anyway, after I launched into my typical retorts – “Guys, knock it off!” “Do you feel better after you hit her?” etc. – with little effect, the oldest chick stepped back a bit and put her hands up defensively. “Listen Spike, I don’t need you taking out of my bucket.” [Silence and inquisitive stares.] “When you say mean things, you take out of people’s buckets. And when you say or do nice things, you fill them up. I’m not going to empty your bucket, so stop emptying mine!” And that, my friends, is what you call an effective after-school lesson. [mic drop]

Feeling special is good for the soul.
Remember how cool it was when your parents or, even better, your pets came into visit you at school? In fourth grade my folks trailered in one of our horses for my Star Day and let me tell you, when that mare shit on the front lawn of my elementary school, I knew I’d climbed 4 rungs up the social ladder. As a working mother I more often than not have guilt about my inability to be a room mother, or a reading pal or a field trip chaperone. There’s always some activity designed to make me feel completely inadequate as an emotional support for my child. But when it counts, wild [pooping] mustangs couldn’t keep me away. Case in point, JoJo’s Valentine’s Day party. We stayed up late cutting pineapples into mangled hearts and shed our own blood skewering those F’ers onto bamboo sticks. We made a party snack mix that I won’t reveal here because I’m thinking about marketing it for profit it was so good, and portioned it out into 22 individual baggies. And when I walked in with those fruit kabobs and bomb-ass mix, my little lady lit up like the Eiffle Tower on New Year’s. I’m not one for praising your child every time they take a tinkle, but I am a big believer in the power of showing up when it counts and letting your girl get her day.

So there you have it. Follow the bold points, throw in a few servings of veggies and commit to move a bit every time Netflix prompts you with, “Are you still watching?” and you have a success plan for a healthy, happy, kind life. And you have JoJo and her tales of the kindergarten somethings to thank for it.

JoJo Just Said

A poopy playdate

December 10, 2015

You know, I’m fine with saying, “I have a 6 year old.” I can wrap my mind around it on paper. But when I turned around the other day and she had her legs crossed and was using her hands and eyebrows to converse with me, it was not OK. It’s not the age, it’s the physical ache of seeing this little grownup in my rearview mirror. It’s like I know her better than anyone and yet there are days I feel like I’m meeting her for the first. time.

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Anyway, the other day I was scrolling through things on the ole’ Facebook, and came across this story I shared with my close group of girlfriends. It’s a classic.

January 9, 2014

Who wants to start their day with a funny story? Oh, you guys do? OK!

So, JoJo has this little friend at Kay’s. He’s 5 (older man), JoJo says they’re going to get married and he is her best friend. He lives in our neighborhood and we’ve been trying to figure out a playdate. Well, yesterday, his mom came to get him around 2 and ended up just taking JoJo back to their house to play. As you can imagine, she was geeked up!

It must be said here to the people who know me best, and know that I am often a sweaty, discombobulated train wreck, that this young man’s mom always looks so put together. She’s so cute and knows nothing of me but that I am JoJo’s mom.* So, I go to get my kid at 5.  After I stood in their entryway rambling on for far too long in an attempt to distract them from the fact that my children were throwing huge, whiney fits in protest of our exit, I managed to reign it in and move the circus back to our house.

While we were eating dinner, JoJo mentions that she got too excited and had an accident in their basement and “poopied in her underwears.”

Mil, “Mom, one thing did happen. While we were playing trains, I got excited and poopied.”
Me: “You did? Where, honey?”
Mil: “In my underwears.”
Me: “Aw, honey, It happens. Did his mom help you?”
Mil: “No. I didn’t tell her. I just told him.”
Me: “So where are your poopy underwear now?”
Mil: “I left them in their basement.”

So, on her first playdate, JoJo shit her pants and then left it as a little “thank-you-for-having-me” present on their bathroom floor. But the real winner here was me, the woman who had to text the pretty mom and tell her my daughter crapped herself and there was a treat waiting for her in her lower level. Happy Thursday!

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*I know this lovely lady much better now and I can safely say if this were to happen today, I’d feel a tad less like a freak show calling to relay that we had a Code Brown on our hands. She still always looks cute though.

JoJo Just Said, Spike Speak

Sisters say what?

November 18, 2015

“Dad, I have a lot to say, can you come back?” – Spike getting tucked in for the night.

“Look at his cute little belly button!” – Spike discovering an unfamiliar body part on her sittermate after he went potty.

“I got my badges!” – Spike after she put two Kroger smiley face stickers on her chest in two very precise places.

“Before you say anything, I just need some privacy for a moment.” – JoJo acting like a 28 year old.

“I lilerally didn’t even know what to do.” – JoJo, who now uses “lilerally” to set up every verb.

“This shrimp is bomb.” – JoJo

“Mil, I love you with my whole heart.” – Spike rebounding from a brutal timeout for being mean.

“Mama, I thought about you today. All day. About how you love me and you sing songs and you give me kisses and you have a computer.” – Spike on the drive back from the sitter.

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“Papa’s truck smells. It smells like a Grammy issue.” – Spike

Me: “Is this what you want to wear tomorrow?”
Spike: “Well it is something fancy, isn’t it?”

“I can’t see that, Mama, because I am blonde.” – Spike

“Wait! I’d look ridiculous with a beard!” – JoJo reconsidering a facial hair call.

“Mom you want me to watch on you? I can watch on you. It’s fine.” – Spike, genuinely concerned about me being in the tub alone.

“And they were all blah, blah, blah, you’re so fashion. I was all blah, blah, blah, I just don’t want you to say poopy.” – Spike talking to me while I take a bath.

“I told her I’m being complicated and don’t care right now.” – Spike

“Now THAT’S what I want to be!” – JoJo pointing to a flock of birds

“You know, I’m not impressed.” – Spike’s commentary on getting ready for bed.

JoJo Just Said

Label maker

October 23, 2015

Kids go through phases, this I know. JoJo sang Adele’s power ballad Someone Like You for weeks when she was 3, Spike ate phone chargers while they were plugged in for an alarming number of months during her second year, and Sloppy Joan has been inconsolable from 5pm-6pm every evening since she was 2 months old. But the thing about phases is they pass and a new, even weirder one, comes along. JoJo, it would seem, has moved into her Post-Impressionism period phase. Since summer, homegirl is putting labels on everything.

Some are very literal and make me feel like I woke up in a home for Early Onset Alzheimer’s. For example these handy signs indicating this is the

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and this is where I should

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But the obvious soon became too ordinary, so she moved on to creating signs where events would soon take place. Such as the front room where we would apparently be hosting a Kung Fu exhibition.

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But my favorite has to be this one she so proudly put on the front door. Come one, come all to our creepy children’s Pajama Party. The sign is up all yearlong, folks, so if your favorite jammies aren’t back from the cleaner’s, don’t worry … we’ll be here waiting whenever you’re ready. Not sure it puts out the vibe we were hoping for.

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She’s hung RSVPs on the front door with 2 crayons hanging down where people could check “Yes” with a blue, or “No” with green. The door to her bedroom is like a caveman’s epic novel; with clear instructions on when people can come in, stay out and who lives within.

Of all her habits, at least this one is helpful for guests who can’t find our trash receptacles and uplifting for passersby who are feeling lonely and need to party. I say, leave your mark on my woodwork- I mean the world, JoJo. It’s a perfectly lovely phase that every type A, young and old, can celebrate.

Kids, Tune in Today

Kindergarten kickoff and my nervous breakdown

August 14, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … be that together mom on the first day of kindergarten.

The thing about children that nobody tells you, is that more often than anyone would like, we discover that these little people are petite vessels sent to open, detonate and unintentionally impose utter and complete emotional devastation upon those who love them most. One look, and they can level you. The right phrase, and you’re shattered into 8 trillion tiny pieces. Almost every happy occasion comes gift wrapped in nostalgia and topped with a bittersweet bow. It’s incredibly humbling and unnerving all at the same time.

JoJo started kindergarten on Wednesday and, as she lifted that construction paper sign announcing her foray into elementary school for the world (or just Instagram and Facebook) to see, something terrible happened. I started sobbing. Big, dreadful, embarrassing, ugly tears. It was like they were all holding hands. Once they started falling, there was no reprieve from the infinity pool of self pity.

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But when we got to the sitter’s to drop off the younger two, I said I was fine. I was fine with her looking like a 12 year old who picked out the most mature outfit in her closet. I was fine with her telling her sissies goodbye. “Wait until she goes to college,” the sitter said. And again, I cried.

But when I got back into the car to drive her to school, I said I was fine. I was fine with her sitting, crossed-legged, mouthing all the words to an Ed Sheeran song while looking longingly out the window. You know … like teenagers do. “Are you coming in with me?” JoJo asked. And again, I cried.

But as we walked hand in hand, side by side, into the school, I said I was fine. I was fine with how, as I looked down at the pavement, I noticed her shadow was catching up to mine. I was fine with how her tiny hand felt not-as-tiny nestled in mine, and how I could feel her anxious excitement on the other end. “Here we go,” I said. And I tried so hard not to cry.

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As I watched her sit up so straight in her little chair, only looking back to meet eyes with me a few times, when she thought no one was looking. As I watched her walk to her cubby. As I watched her line up and march with a tentative confidence down a hallway alongside the big kids. As I watched her eyes light up at talk of reading and adventures and friends, I told myself I was fine. Everything was fine.

But as we set her on the little round seat in the lunchroom, situated with her compartmentalized tray and carton of apple juice, I didn’t feel fine. “Are you guys leaving now?” JoJo asked. I leaned down, kissed her little baby-skinned cheek, pulled down my sunglasses and didn’t try not to cry. In fact, I let it rain. I let those tears fall for the milestone and for my mourning of the past and the fact that it will always be the past, and in the past, she was tiny and snuggly and so close to me always.

“Find joy in the journey.” my friend Lindsay posted.

“This is what we do. We raise them to give them wings and let them go.” Kel offered.

“It’s a testament to you as a mom that she felt OK to go in there with confidence. It’s OK to be upset. Part of being a mom is loving them so much and worrying and crying.” a sweet coworker said (as I snotted and sobbed over her desk).

But when I got home from work, and I listened to her describe their bear hunt, and the playground, and her new friends … I knew, deep down, everything was just fine. But I still cried today, just a little.

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Until next time … 

Kids

Oh daddy dear: Surviving and thriving with all daughters

July 12, 2015

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Due to our need to get the hell outta dodge, I missed addressing this on Father’s Day. But with the 34th anniversary of his birth upon us, I feel compelled to share why my husband was just the man to raise three little women, and what other men in his situation can gain from his approach.

the look.
I have known this gentleman for 14 years. I know what he’s thinking. I know what he’s going to say before he parts his lips. But I never knew what immeasurable, drunken joy looked like on him until I saw him lock eyes on JoJo the day she was born. I remember lying there, watching him dance between me and her … all pink and screaming and deliciously ours. A light came on in him that only fatherhood could spark. I saw it again when we had Spikey. And again with Sloppy Joan. Every time they do something endearing, I immediately turn to catch that organic moment on his face; that glimmer he gets only for his girls. It’s a certain smile and a sparkle, like his love for them is reflected back and captured in his eyes. As much as I relish these sweet glances, I know the chicks do just as much. They feel adored and accepted and encouraged to keep being themselves. When someone genuinely rejoices in your unbridled spirit, it puts wind in your wings. It makes them feel like they can soar.
Look adoringly upon your daughters.

 

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owning it. 
Given the choice of a baby blue toothbrush or powder pink, my husband will opt for the blushing brush. Why? Because he has embraced the company he keeps. He often jokes about how he’s taken to calling things, “cute,” the designated adjective in our dwelling. It’s not his fault, really. I used to work with this sweet young thing who said, “Gosh,” at the beginning of every sentence. “Gosh, Kate Middleton is the cutest.” “Gosh, I really want a juice cleanse.” “Gosh, Spike is seriously so funny.” And before you knew it, bing! bang! boom! “Gosh,” was part of my vernacular. It’s subliminal advertising more than a sign of meager manhood. But I appreciate that he’s all-in. He’s unapologetic. He is a grown-ass man who can paint some tiny nails and do a french braid like a boss and who says, “cute” … a lot. And, gosh, it’s so dang endearing.

 

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a pile of patience. 
God love this man and the patient soul he was given. I run at a very different pace and, unfortunately, there are times when I get caught up in the bullet points of my to-do list at the expense of the beautiful little faces behind the bullet points (a post for another time). But Henry takes the extra time. His watch stops for the small things and it’s a blessing to our babies.

high marks in the all-around.
It’s important to Hank that the girls be confident, well-rounded and adventurous. He thinks about what he wants to show them, and he always has their character at the heart of his plans. People have said, “He needs his boy.” But that’s kind of crap. He doesn’t need a boy to have someone to share interests or pass on the lessons his father taught him. JoJo, we’ve learned, likes to garden, fish and hike. Spike, likes mowing the yard and olives (their things right now). He curates theses special experiences based on the knowledge he has to share, the little people he sees in them and the women he hopes they’ll be someday. He respects their individuality, never limits them based on gender and makes them feel like he can teach them anything. It’s empowering and, while they will probably never be avid hunters or throw the winning pass at a Friday night football game, the book is never totally closed on a path they want to explore.

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doctor dada.
Every home becomes a machine, with different people maintaining the function and feelings of the people and things that reside within the walls through different roles and reactions. As the sole man of the house, Hank’s roles cover a vast territory. He is the protector and the powerhouse. The mover of all heavy things. But, because his wife is, well, me, he is also by default the cleaner of all vomit and assessor of all wounds. Every crash, every splinter, every [gag] tick, is directly elevated to daddy’s attention. He always picks the right bandage, has the words to calm their hysteria and bears the blood and snot stains to prove his medical savvy. Every house needs a tough guy when the bike brakes fail and skulls collide, and he is certainly ours.

I know quite a few daddies who have been blessed with little women, exclusively. They all have these traits and more, and savor the gift they’ve been given. It takes a special guy to man up to the challenge of raising, not just girls, but strong, confident, capable girls. I tip my hat to my babies’ daddy and to all the fellas doing their part to make the next generation of gals fierce and freaking awesome.

 

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