Nicki started explaining something about Martin Luther King, Jr. and why we celebrate his accomplishments. “A long time ago, people used to call people with brown skin, ‘Black’, even though their skin wasn’t really black, and they called people with pink skin, ‘White’, even though it wasn’t really that color. They would say, ‘I’m white, and you’re black.’”
Abby narrowed her eyes at Nicki, dubious. “… That’s weird.”
“I think families should have people with different colors in them. I didn’t used to think so, but now I do.”
Abby went to the other room to heat up her hot chocolate in the microwave. She returned a couple minutes later wearing oven mitts and smiling. “I think it might be a little too hot for me to get without mitts.”
“Wait. How long did you put it in for?” I asked.
Abby thought. “… Twenty hours.”
“Don’t do anything!” I said, rising and hurrying to the family room. Hot chocolate was all over the inside of the microwave.
“It’s okay. I’m not mad. But from now on, you need to have help doing the microwave. Tell me exactly what numbers you pressed.”
“That’s two minutes and 28 seconds. That’s too long.”
“And then 7.8.5.”
As a lady at our church was admiring our cute son, Noah, Abby told her: “At home, he plays with Pooh. He loves it. He would play with Pooh all day if we let him.”
The woman wrinkled her brow at Abby, lost and confused. I explained, “She means, ‘Winnie the Pooh’, the bear.”
The woman nodded, relieved.
Noah’s favorite phrase: “Num-nums!”
This is his term for any kind of food.
He says it all day long and keeps running back to his high chair, expecting to be fed again.
Abby handed me her toy cellphone, saying, “Dad, it’s for you. It’s the city. They want more money.”
I took the call. “Hello?” I answered. “I don’t have any money, but Abby’s here. You can talk to her.” I handed the phone back.
“You’re not giving them anything?” I asked.
“No,” she insisted. “It’s my money and I don’t want to share.”
“Oh. Well, what are you going to do with it?”
She smiled, pleased with herself. “I need it for Miguel (a boy at her school – not his real name).”
“What does Miguel need it for?”
“He wants an iPod.”
We had pasta for dinner one evening. Abby asked for some more cheesy garlic bread, but we had already taken the last couple of pieces. Nicki asked Abby if she wanted half of her piece, and Abby agreed.
Knowing how much Nicki loved cheesy garlic bread, I told Abby, “Wasn’t that nice of Mommy to share her cheese bread?”
Abby nodded, and said, “I tried to share my lunch things today, my chips and snack and sandwich, but nobody wanted it.”
Nicki wrinkled her brows with concern. “Wait. You didn’t share your sandwich, did you?”
I tried to help draw out the truth. “You had a long delay and a voice inflection in your reply that concerns me. Did you eat your sandwich that Mommy made you?”
“… Yes,” Abby said.
I held her gaze. “… You did?”
Abby held up a hand, clarifying. “Mostly. Only not the part that fell on the floor.”
Nicki smirked. “How convenient, since that’s the part you don’t like.”
“Abby, you need to eat your whole sandwich from now on …” I told her.
“Not just the meat,” Nicki added.
“Okay,” Abby agreed, laughing.
“No, just one,” we tell her.
“How about two that are really short? Or three?”
“No, just one.”
“How about one that’s really long? And one that’s really short?”
By contrast, Noah has no negotiation skills whatsoever. We tell him to share his toys and he screams and throws a tantrum. We tell him to eat his food and he screams and throws a tantrum. We tell him to stop hitting and biting people and he screams and throws a tantrum.
“All done!” he shouts.
“No. You are in Time Out,” I remind him.
“No. Now be quiet.”
No negotiation skills whatsoever.
After dinner, our boarder, Hannah, said we had a great dinner, even though we had no vegetables or salad. Abby said to me, “You should eat salad for lunch sometimes.”
“I should?” I asked innocently. “Why?”
“Oh,” I said. “That’s a good idea. Maybe you should eat salad for lunch sometimes, too.”
“Nooo,” she said, screwing up her face and scoffing at the idea.
“I am healthy,” she said.
“Oh. Well, then, why do I need to eat salad?” I asked.
Abby got very quiet, a guilty smile playing at the corners of her mouth. Hannah buried her laughter in her hands.
“Wait a minute,” I said, as Abby realized she was cornered. “What are you saying about me?”
“Your TUMMY’S BIG!” Abby blurted.
I put Abby to bed one night with special instructions. “Okay, Abby, it’s really late, so we don’t have time for stories. You need to go right to sleep, so you’re not going to ask any questions at all. You’re just going to sleep, okay?”
Abby thought for a second, then said, “How do you do rocket science?”
“Good night, Abby, love you.”
Since we got Noah, we have been adding new family rules at random, sometimes on a weekly or daily basis. We tell him these rules as soon as they are added. For example …
New family rule: We do not bite our friends’ butts when they are climbing up the slide.
Abby wanted me to play “War” with her. She had the cards already laid out. I asked her to remind me how to play. She told me we both turn over one card at a time from our pile and the highest card wins. She told me the Ace, King, Queen, and other cards were the highest ones.
“Yes,” I said. “And I’m starting to notice that Abby has a lot of high cards. She’s had an Ace, a Queen, a couple of Kings …”
Abby had a big smile.
“Abby,” Nicki said with a warning tone. “I told you not to stack the deck. That’s cheating.”
I pretended innocence. “Oh, you stacked the deck?”
“Yeah!” Abby said, laughing. As we finished out the game, I learned she had every single royal card and ten card in her hand.
I introduced Noah to the Justice League cartoon, since he now loves Batman and Superman. We watched the intro that shows the characters in action, one at a time. “Look, Noah,” I said. “Who’s that?”
He smiled. “That Batman.”
“Batman have a hat.”
“… okay, right. He does have a hat.”
“That’s Wonder Woman,” I told him. “See how she’s deflecting those bullets with her bracelets? Isn’t that cool?”
“Yeah,” he said, smiling more. “I like it.”
Abby was looking at Nicki’s bruised toenail, that Nicki didn’t remember bruising. Abby said, “Now you can dedicate it.” Nicki asked what she meant by “dedicating” it. Abby said, “That’s when you chop it off and then you only have four toes.”
Noah’s new favorite phrase: “I funny!”
Abby drew a snail and named him Nigel Garcia Coman.
… We don’t know where she comes up with this stuff.
Still not sure how he did that …
(putting on tattoos from her birthday party)
Abby: “I’m putting these on, but they’re contemporary tattoos. That means they won’t stay on forever. Because they’re contemporary.”
Nicki was telling Abby how much she loved her and how proud she was of her as she kissed her goodnight in her bed. Abby said, “Are cats mammals?”
“Are we mammals?”
“Yes, we are.”
“What things are not mammals?”
“I don’t know right now.”
“No. Chickens are … something else. Okay, good night.”
“What about fish?”
Unfortunately, we discovered this by watching him rock out with the other girls to the Barbie video, “Do the Mermaid”.
Hoping he’ll grow out of that …
Nicki yelled at Noah to stop him from throwing one of Abby’s books into the bathtub. Abby came in with a play phone to her ear and said, “Did you know I was on the phone?”
Apparently, Nicki was being too loud.
Nicki found Abby jumping on her bed. “Hey, you know there’s no jumping on the bed.”
“I’m not jumping,” Abby said.
“Well, what do you call that?”
Abby thought a second. “Super Mega Up-Down.”
Abby was giving away some clothes she had outgrown to her friends. Nicki was really impressed with how generous she was being. After an hour, Nicki overheard Abby ask one of her friends for “two ones”. Her friend said, “Yes, of course.”
Nicki asked what the “ones” were for, and learned that Abby wanted two dollars for the clothes.
She claimed she misunderstood the process of giving things away …
New family rule: We do not walk on people.
Nicki explained to me that Noah had been playing with Abby’s Barbie dolls, combing the hair of the one she let him borrow. Since Noah combs Barbie hair much rougher than Abby does, after a few days of abusive combing, he popped her head right off. Nicki said it was really unfortunate, too, because it was one of the darker-skinned dolls we had bought her, which were harder to find.
I was still shaving when Abby appeared at the door, looking solemn and annoyed. She held up the headless Barbie doll. I told her how sorry I was. Abby said, “The worst part was, she was naked. She’s not even wearing any clothes. I’m gonna go get her dressed.”
She gave a backward glance but kept walking out the door. She returned a minute later with the headless Barbie, now wearing an elegant gown. It looked like something from one of the more disturbing Tim Burton films. “Oh, that looks better,” I said.
I had her sit on my lap and gave her a hug, and told her again I was sorry about what happened. She understood Noah didn’t mean to do it. She asked if we could get another Barbie sometime. “Sure,” I said, wondering how many Barbies she was up to by now. “I know this one had darker skin, but she’s kind of tan. You think you might want one that’s a little darker than this?”
Abby thought. “Maybe one that’s … more durable?”
Later that morning at church, Abby was sharing her Barbies with a little girl who sat in the row in front of us.
Noah didn’t want to be left out, so as they stood their Barbies up and had them talk to each other, he stood his naked headless Barbie next to theirs, smiling and talking away with them. He wanted to show them he was cool, too.
That doesn’t bother us, but we really wanted him to use the right word for “Winnie the Pooh” instead of always saying “Nicki Pooh”.
For several days, he walked around saying “Nicki Pooh Duck” over and over. Nicki finally figured out he was remembering the story in which Winnie the Pooh got “stuck” in Rabbit’s hole, so was referring to him by saying, “Nicki Pooh [is] duck!”
“‘Ninnie’,” Noah said.
“Okay, good. Now say … ‘Win-nie the Pooh’.”
This went on for a good five minutes before we all gave up. It only seemed to be entertaining him.
“Sit right there, now!”
“I want chicken nuggets now!”
“I don’t want a Time Out!”
A few days after we told Noah we’re changing his name (from his original birth name to Noah), Nicki was hugging him and saying, “Are you my good boy?”
He said, “No, I ‘Noah’.”
Noah in Time Out: “I wanna watch ‘Batman’. I wanna watch ‘Batman’!”
Noah told Nicki he’s going to work. Then he went upstairs to “go to work”.
Kids at Abby’s school have a chart that monitors their behavior, and if they are misbehaving, they get moved from Green to Yellow, and are in danger of being moved to Red. One day, Abby was sad because she got put on Red that day. Nicki had no note about it, so she asked Abby what happened.
“I got put on Red,” Abby repeated.
“I know,” Nicki said. “But how did you get put on Red?”
“The teacher went to the board, and moved my card from Yellow to Red. That’s how.”
Nicki bit her lip. “I know. But how — What did the teacher say to you, just before she put you on Red?”
She said, “ABBY!”
It actually looked like something Adam West would have done on the show …
Abby showed Nicki a Christmas picture she drew for school. It was a shirtless man standing and growling with his arms at his sides. She had colored him green and his torn pants red. “Okay … What is that?” Nicki asked.
“The teacher had us draw gingerbread men,” Abby said. “So I drew a gingerbread Hulk.”
Abby made some “candy cane”-shaped presents for some family and friends we would see at a Christmas party. Nicki saw one for Uncle Robert and when she moved it, the present fell out of it. It was one of Noah’s Matchbox cars. So she checked the other presents to see what Abby had collected from around the house to give away to people. For one of other friends, she had wrapped up a D battery!
Nicki got a note from Abby’s teacher saying she got placed on Red that day because she was chatty and during Quiet Time she and her friends were balancing erasers on their noses.
Nicki tried really hard not to laugh when she talked to Abby about the note.
Nicki finally got a couple of hours free to drive Abby and Noah to the mall to see Santa Claus. Noah kept babbling, “I go see Santa. I go hug Santa.” But Abby wasn’t saying much. Nicki asked Abby if she was excited about going to see Santa Claus.
“Not really,” Abby said: “I’m just going for him.” She nodded toward Noah, who was still babbling.
Nicki was concerned. “Oh. … You don’t want to see Santa?”
Abby soured. “Well, it’s not the real Santa.”
“… How do you know it’s not the real Santa.”
Abby cocked her head at her. “I really don’t think. That he would travel. All the way. From the North Pole. Just to sit in a mall. And let a bunch of kids sit. On his lap.”
Every year, we hang a snowman decoration on Abby’s bedroom doorknob. During the month of December, she finds that the snowman’s pocket gets filled with a couple of pieces of Pez or other candy. One morning, after getting her candy, she confronted Nicki and said, “I think it’s you. Or Daddy. Or Santa.”
After getting presents from us and a few presents and stocking stuffers from Santa Claus, including an Ultimate FX Lightsaber, Abby shouted, “Yes! Santa is the best!”
Noah got an ImaginiNext Batmobile and a bunch of Batman villains. He lined up all the villains like bowling pins and released the automatic-rolling Batmobile to knock them over!
Noah borrowed Abby’s lightsaber a while. He’s showing Nicki how it works and trying to imitate the hissing sound!
Noah’s new favorite phrase: “Darn it.”
Sunday, February 24th, 2013