Tough Questions

Tonight, when putting on her pajamas, Claire pointed at her nipples, one finger on each, and said, “What are these for?” Surprised, I started saying nervously, “Uh, I don’t know… Er, uh….” Then I decided it was harmless and might actually be interesting for Claire to know that they are used to feed babies. So I told her. Claire’s mouth nearly hit the floor. She was absolutely astonished. I might as well have told her that they are secret beaconing transmitters for aliens.

She was stunned for a few seconds, then said, “Did you say they are used to feed babies?” I confirmed that she had heard me correctly. She followed, “Can I feed a baby?” I assumed she was thinking of Molly. “No, sorry. Kids’ ones don’t work. Only grown up mommies.” She was a little disappointed, but more confused. “Why do kids have them, then?” I tersely explained that they are just there for later, when she is grown up. I thought this would have confused her more, but she kind of smiled like it all made sense now. She then went on to conclude that she is probably the only kid in her class with nipples. I argued this contention, but she was so proud that I did not really push the issue. Then we moved on to brushing her teeth before she could ask the next question, which I presumed was going to be, “Why do daddies have nipples?”, to which I would have no viable answer.

A few minutes later, Claire’s last question before going to sleep was, “Are earthquakes real?” Oh boy. We had been reading a book — a really nice kid’s book — that had a bed fall through the floor at night when an earthquake struck. Still, I had to spit it out. “Yes, sometimes there are real earthquakes.” It’s almost as if I had just told her that dragons are real or Darth Vader could come walking through the door. She started to panic a bit. I followed up quickly, “But not around here. We almost never have earthquakes in Texas. Maybe just teeny tiny ones you barely notice. They don’t make beds fall through the floor.” She felt better but made me promise — promise — that we would never move to an earthquake city. Never ever. I told her we would never move to an earthquake city.

And then I slinked out of her bedroom before she could find something else to ask me about.

Star Wars, the fairy tale

Claire has never seen Star Wars, not even a little bit of it. But she is quite curious about it because most of the boys in her class play Star Wars and talk about it a lot. Yes, over 30 years after the original movie came out, it is still the king of boys’ playtime.

Not having seen it, Claire is trying to piece together the world of Star Wars from little tidbits of information here and there. She doesn’t even know what most of the characters look like. For a while she would ask me basic questions. Is Star Wars real? Is Darth Vader a bad guy? What is Chewbacca exactly? All she knew about Chewbacca was that he was furry and could be described as a “waking carpet”. I had to pull up a picture of Yoda on the computer because Claire did not really understand my description of him. I told Claire that Yoda was green, about her own size, 1000 years old, wrinkly, and he talked kind of backwards. Seriously, what’s so confusing about that?
Tonight during bath time, Claire made up her own saga — fairy tale, actually — of Star Wars. I was Luke Skywalker, and she was my kid. She talked really weird, not English or anything, and so did I. Darth Vader was coming to get us. Claire had magic powers and could turn herself into any princess or fairy except Princess Leia. When Darth Vader got close, Claire turned herself into a fairy, and she offered to turn me into any fairy I wanted. I just said, “Okay, uh, thanks.” We both used our fairy powers to float up into the sky where Darth Vader could not get us. When we went into her bedroom after getting her dressed, she pointed down at the floor and said Darth Vader was down there. She stuck her finger on the floor and said, “Ouch! He bit my finger!” When I walked across the room to hug her, she said, “You’re stepping on Darth Vader!” I could not tell if she was happy or upset about that.
Then Kit came to read Claire her bedtime story, and I went shopping at Target. There, passing the toy department, I saw countless Star Wars toys lining aisles. I almost — but did not — buy something for Claire to help her straighten out her Star Wars story.

Shark Towel

Uncle Tim recently sent Claire a crazy towel as a gift in the mail. Here is a picture of it and an email conversation with Tim.

From: Pat
Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 1:11 PM
To: Tim
Subject: Dinosaur towel

Hey sucker, I thought you might enjoy this picture of Claire sporting her new dinosaur towel (or, as she says, her shark towel). She insists on taking it to school twice a week for “splash day”.

From: Tim
Subject: RE: Dinosaur towel
Date: June 16, 2010 2:24:19 PM CDT
To: Pat

That’s awesome! When we saw the “shark towel” (TM) we immediately thought of Claire. I think this picture is, in fact, exactly what we immediately though of.

Busy Body

Molly has been so busy! She is learning to move herself around and is so excited about it.

She recently started “army crawling” (todo: link or video), and today at school, for the first time, Molly sat up all by herself! She also pulled herself up using the edge of a little table. I heard about this from Molly’s teacher when I picked her up today. Molly especially gets a real workout everyday at school, where, unlike at home, it is safe enough for her to crawl around wherever she wants.

Here are some sample daily notes from her teachers:

Date: 5/26/2010

Disposition: Busy, determined, happy

Activities: Worked her way into bottom book shelf for teether -> got out by herself! Speed-scooting around the room. Trying to pull up on ducks.

Date: 5/27/2010

Disposition: Busy, focused, cheerful

Activities: Played outside -> chewing on & waving shovels. Laid on her back squealing @ the trees! Army crawled under the sorting table to get blue bucket.

Date: 6/10/2010

Disposition: Active, determined, happy

Activities: “Real” army crawling w/ both arms! Reaching for & batting @ elastic bands under high chairs. Sweet smiles!

Road Trip!

This weekend, we had our first road trip together as a family of four. It was Molly’s first real car trip ever. As far as I can recall, this was the first time she had ever left Austin.

The destination was Arlington, Texas, where my second cousin Worth was graduating from high school. We were warned that the ceremony itself, in which 750 people were graduating, was too long and for a mature. We were urged to consider doing “something else” with Claire and Molly during the actual graduation and just show up for the meet-n-greet afterwards at Worth’s house.

So rather than sit through the long, boring graduation ceremony, we sat through a long, boring drive to Arlington. The one-night trip took significant planning. We put together individual checklists of must-have stuff to remember for everyone, and we ended up with 55 things. Molly accounted for about half of the total. The list did not include the normal travel items, such as clothes, toothbrush, phone numbers, etc. The list was full of things like baby bottles, bottle scrubber, dish soap, bottle steam sterilizer bags, formula, teethers, bibs, Pack ‘n Play, baby sleep sack, kid’s pajamas, teddy bear, baby medicine, car window shades, DVD player, and so on.

Once we were on the road, the trip went surprisingly well. For a while, Molly and Claire seemed to enjoy having time to just sit and talk with each other. There was some giggling and a game vaguely resembling pat-a-cake. Claire also had a lot of questions for us about where we were going and who was graduating, and she indicated that she was excited to meet some teenagers. After a while, Claire started watching The Polar Express, her latest movie obsession, and Molly fell asleep and remained asleep for most of the trip. This was a double score because it would keep Molly from being groggy and irritable later.

Once in Arlington, we checked into our overcrowded hotel, where my parents were also staying, and headed to the graduation party. Molly’s cousins got to meet her for the first time. We passed Molly around from relative to relative. She had a little stranger anxiety (crying) early on, but she got used to everyone after a while. Claire got a little bored but did get to open up Worth’s graduation presents for him, which she did with great enthusiasm. She also got to admire cousin Richard’s yellow Corvette, which she could touch the roof of if she stood on tippy-toes.

Molly stayed up very late — it was 8:30 by the time we got her back to the hotel, about two hours past her usual bedtime! She and Claire ended up sharing the “living room” of the hotel suite, with Claire on the fold-out sofa and Molly in the Pack ‘n Play. Claire loved sleeping on the fold-out (a couple of weeks later at home, she asked for me to replace her flower pillowcase with a plain white one, just like at the Arlington hotel). And Molly took to the Pack ‘n Play just fine. Claire noted that the Pack ‘n Play was great because it could be used for “packing and playing”.

The next morning we had breakfast with my parents and headed back to Austin. The trip back was slightly less smooth. Claire got a little grumpy during a rest stop at McDonald’s because she wanted to keep playing on the playground (and she was clearly getting tired, although she would not admit it). And Molly ended up sucking on a pacifier from about Waco to Austin. Normally we don’t let Molly use a pacifier when she is awake, but the alternative was potentially hours of crying baby, so we made an exception for this car trip.

So there you have it, our first family road trip. I was initially scared it could have been horrible, with screaming and crying kids who couldn’t sleep or eat or settle down in a strange hotel room. But it went okay, and I am proud of both girls for making such great travel companions.

todo: Add pictures