She wanted this…
“I’m not wearing a coat today!”
“Yes you are.”
“Honey, it’s zero degrees outside. Do you know how many degrees that is? None. That’s cold.”
“I’m wearing a sweater.”
“And you should be. But you need a coat, too.”
“I DON’T WANNA WEAR A COOOOOOOOOOAT!”
“I DON’T CAAAAAAAAAARE! Put it on!”
“I won’t be cold! I promise!”
“I’m not arguing about this. There’s your coat. Put it on.”
“What if I wear… a jacket?”
“You’ll actually wear a jacket?”
“Fine. There’s your jacket.”
(I point to her coat. She puts it on.)
“Great. Now let’s talk about gloves.”
… and boy, do we have one kid who knows how to take advantage of that. So I wasn’t surprised when Sutton showed up at my bedside at 3:03am this morning. Who knows how long she’d been standing there, because she does this a lot, and like the possessed woman in Paranormal Activity, she just stands there perfectly still and quiet until the force of her gaze bearing down on me shudders me awake.
Despite the fact that she’s been hovering there for who knows how long, she never has much to say when I do wake up. She usually shuffles back and forth, drops her head and asks with the sweetest little face you’ve ever seen, “Daddy, will you tuck me in again?”
“NO!” I shout… sometimes.
She knows she’s not supposed to get out of bed, and she’s definitely not supposed to wake me up at 3:03am, so we have a strict no re-tuck policy, which she nonetheless tests every chance she gets. Sometimes I’m too tired for the fight, so I cave.
Like I said, though, this time is special, because we sent her to bed with a fever and a lung-busting category 5 cough. Honestly, I’m surprised she made it that late before wandering down the hall, even more surprised that this time she had a good reason for getting out of bed.
“I’m wet,” she announces, matter-of-factly. I feel her pants and sure enough, she peed through her pull-up.
I drag myself out from under the loving warmth of my winter blankets and dig out a new pair of pants and a dry pull-up for her. “There you go,” I say, and I give her a gentle pat on her tush to signify, “G’bye!”.
“No, Daddy,” she replies. “Tuck me in.”
I walk her back to the bedroom she shares with her brother. He’s sick, too, so I really don’t want to wake him up. “Climb in, and I’ll tuck you,” I whisper.
“Where’s Mrs. Bunny?” she shouts. I shush her. Miraculously, Bennett sleeps through her outburst.
“Quiet,” I remind her. “Bennett’s sleeping.” I start feeling around in the dark for her beloved bunny-headed blankie, who she can’t sleep without. It’s not easy to find her, because there are at least six dozen plush toys on her bed at any given time. I pick up Miss Piggy. Nope. Then Punaniñas, this weird pink leopard-skinned hamster-like creature who’s been her absolute favorite for about the last two days. Nope. Then Mrs. O’Bunny, the green bunny I brought her back from Ireland. Nope.
Finally, I find Mrs. B in the crack between the bed and the wall. I’m pretty sure this is how Indiana Jones felt when he placed his hands on the Holy Grail. Sigh. “Here you go. C’mon, I’ll tuck you in.”
“No, Daddy,” she says. “The sheets are wet!”
“The sheets aren’t wet, Honey. They’re –” I feel the sheets. The sheets are wet. Sigh. “Okay, I’ll get you a new blanket.”
I grab a blanket from her bedside. It’s covering up another six dozen or so plush toys who wouldn’t fit in her bed, so she’s created this odd co-sleeping arrangement for them instead. “No, Daddy,” she says. “I want Tiana!”
A minute later, I’m back, and she’s waiting patiently at her bedside, enjoying this late-night edition of “The Daddy Show” she’s quietly scripting as she goes along. She waits until I have the blanket positioned and tucked before she adds, “Daddy… The bottom sheet, too.”
She’s sick, I tell myself. The rules are different when your kid is sick. “I’ll be right back,” I say. I grab the flashlight again.
The next thing I know, I’ve stripped the entire bed, taken out the mattress in order to get the fitted sheet on, and now I’m on my hands and knees, painstakingly tucking the corners of the top sheet.
This is it, I decide. This is the last demand I give into. I don’t care if she’s sick or not. I just want to go back to sleep. That’s when I hear her voice again.
“Daddy?” she whispers.
I try to ignore her, but she says it again, more urgently this time. “Daddy!”
“You’re doing a really good job.”
That’s when I give her a big hug and a kiss and tuck her in two times, as requested. “Good night, Honey,” I whisper in her ear. “Feel better.”
After two previous posts, I wasn’t planning on writing yet again about my son’s fondness for wearing dresses. Most of the time, he’d rather wear his Thomas the Train t-shirt and jeans, but occasionally, he asks to wear something out of his sister’s closet. None of us makes a big deal about it, except maybe his sister, who likes to gush about what a beautiful princess he makes.
But this was a very special dress… and a very special day.
Drew’s brother Peter was getting married. Drew and his other brother were the Best Men, Sutton was a flower girl and Bennett was a ring bearer.
At least, that was the plan.
Naturally, we made a big deal about the flower girl dress, at the risk of causing Sutton to spontaneously combust with glee. It had a sash, Aunt Ali had picked it out personally and it was so special it could only be worn on that one magical day. It wasn’t white, as Sutton would remind us over and over. It was “cream-colored.”
We looked at pictures of the dress online almost daily until it finally arrived, when Sutton began asking us every ten minutes if we would take it out so she could look at it.
As with most formal occasions, men’s fashion was an afterthought. Bennett would wear a white shirt, dark pants and suspenders, which we could shop for and purchase at our convenience.
We shouldn’t have been surprised when Bennett announced that he was going to be a flower girl, too. He never showed much interest in the dress itself, never stood at the closet door and gawked at it with his sister, but he insisted that on the wedding day, he was going to wear it.
His uncle and aunt-to-be assured us that they didn’t care what he wore or what he carried down the aisle, just as long as he was a part of their big day.
This was months ago, and Drew and I had to make the call. The flower girl dress was expensive, and it needed to be ordered way ahead of time. Would we have a ring bearer in the family… or two flower girls?
Those of you who have never been parents of a three-year-old need to know one thing:
You can’t plan for a kid’s desires five minutes in advance, let alone five months.
Trust me, I live with this kid. One moment, he might ask very sweetly for me to play “Part of Me” by Katy Perry, but 22 seconds later, once I’ve found it on my iPod and hooked it up to the speakers, he’s furious that we’re not listening to Maroon 5.
Who knew what he would really want to do on the wedding day, when he saw the other ring bearers in their white shirts and suspenders? Would he do a 180 on us and refuse to go down the aisle in the cream-colored gown?
OK, I’ll admit we also considered the fact that a little boy in a dress was going to steal some of the spotlight from the bride. If our son identified as a girl and this were a matter of acknowledging his gender identity, that would’ve been different. But it seemed like it was more the case of a little boy who was jealous of his sister. We bought him the suspenders.
Occasionally over the next few months, the subject of the wedding would come up, and we’d mention that Bennett was going to be a ring bearer. “Nope!” he’d say. “I’m a flower girl!” Then, we’d quickly change the subject.
This past weekend, we went to Philadelphia for the wedding. The other kids in the wedding party weren’t at the rehearsal, and Bennett continued to insist that, during the ceremony, he would be spreading rose petals down the aisle. We knew we had blown it. Bad call. The next day, we’d have one very hurt, angry little boy on our hands.
The morning of the wedding, we met up with one of the other ring bearers. Bennett had actually had a play date with him a while back, during the bridal shower. “You remember Little Pete?” I asked him.
“Yes,” Bennett said. “I played with his trains.”
We breathed a sigh of relief. We had made the right call.
Sutton did an amazing job as flower girl, and Bennett and Little Pete were top-notch ring bearers.
“I’m so proud of you,” I told Bennett after the ceremony. “Did you like Little Pete?”
“Yes,” Bennett said. “When I grow up, I’m going to marry him.”
I smiled at my kid and said, “Bennett, nothing would make me prouder.”
“Oh no! What happened?”
“Well, Sutton bit Bennett. They were just playing around, but then she asked him to bite her back, and he broke the skin.”
“Oh, whew! So they only hurt each other, not anyone else’s kid?”
“Oh yes. They’ve never hurt the other kids, though Sutton has a habit of tackling all the boys and kissing them.”
“Great, so I have nothing to worry about then.”
Sutton likes to name her dolls. Here are a few of her favorites:
This time, she let me in on the naming process.
“Daddy, what’s her name?”
“You can name her whatever you want.”
“Daddy, please can you name her?”
“OK. I think she looks like an Angelica.”
“No? You don’t like that name?”
“OK. How about Sylvia?”
“I’ve got it, Honey. Why don’t we name her Sutton?”
“What? Why not?”
“No. Time out isn’t over until the timer beeps.”
“Beep! (brief pause) Daddy, it beeped!”
“No it didn’t. That was you.”
“Sutton, I can tell the difference between the timer beeping and you saying ‘beep’.”
“Beep… beep… beep!”
(I leave the room to laugh. Two minutes later, an actual beep sounds…)
“Honey, why did I put you in a time out?”
“Because I ran away when you told me to come inside.”
“But you love me and you forgive me, just don’t do it again!”
“You left out the part where I tell you to say you’re sorry.”
“OK, go play.”
Note: She’s not quite 2 1/2 years old yet.
“Sutton, where did you put that toothbrush you were holding?”
“Under the sea.”
“What do you mean ‘Under the sea’…?”
(singing) “Wandering free… I want to be… part of your wooooooooorld!”
… and with that, I realized we’d have to childproof our new house after all.
(Side note: while I was typing this, Sutton locked herself in the bathroom. It took 10 minutes to get her out.)
We were looking through old pictures, and when Sutton saw this one, she squealed, “Heart shirt!”
Two words that quickly changed our lives.
The last time she’d worn that shirt was months earlier, and it wasn’t a big deal. Now, finding that shirt and putting it on was the most important thing in the world.
It barely fit her anymore, but she loved it. She wore it all day and went back to the mirror over and over to admire it – or to make sure she wasn’t dreaming, and it was still there. The next day, the first words out of her mouth were “Heart shirt!” She wanted to wear it again.
Finally, two days ago, I was tired of seeing it, and I was tired of seeing her diaper underneath it every time she raised her arms, because the heart shirt didn’t quite cover her back.
“Guys, let’s do something fun today,” I told them. “Let’s go clothes shopping!”
They fell for it.
I told Sutton she could pick out any shirt she wanted, as long as it was long-sleeve and they had it in her size. I figured she might wear something else if she felt some ownership of it. It was worth a shot.
She picked out five new shirts. Four of them were pink and the other one had a heart on it. Actually, I picked the heart one out for her myself. It was light blue, and she had no interest in it. “That’s for Bennett!” she insisted.
Maybe it wasn’t the heart she was into after all.
She couldn’t wait to show Daddy her new clothes when he got home at night. The next day, she didn’t even mention the heart shirt. She wanted the “flower shirt”. This one:
This morning, she asked for it again.
“What about all the other shirts we bought yesterday? Let’s try one of those.”
“No! I want my flower shirt!”
So here we go. Day 2 of the flower shirt. And counting.
If it were my kid, I’d buy him the damn sewing machine.
By now, virtually everyone has seen the storyline from this week’s Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry buys a screamingly gay kid (played by a hilarious Eddie Schweighardt) a gift he thinks a gay kid would enjoy, and the kid’s in-denial mom freaks out. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here:
This episode put me, and I’m guessing a lot of people, in a very awkward position – that of agreeing with Larry David for probably the first time ever.
Sure, the kid’s only 7 years old, so technically, he’s not anything-sexual yet, let alone homosexual. But that’s not the point. The kid wanted a sewing machine, so what kind of heartless parent would take it away from him? I’m hoping in 2011, only a fictional mom would be so cold. (The storyline did seem a little dated, at least when it comes to Manhattan moms.)
My kids are only 2, and I wouldn’t begin to speculate on who they’ll want to marry, date or live platonically with someday. They’ll work out those issues for themselves during their painful adolescences, no doubt. Good luck, kids! Let me know if you have any questions!
In the meantime, they can play with whatever the hell they want. We’re in kind of a unique position, having boy-girl twins. We don’t have “girl toys” or “boy toys”, just toys. Sometimes, Sutton likes to roll the trucks around, and sometimes, Bennett plays with the dolls. I don’t mind, and I don’t read anything into it.
I know the world will tell them soon enough what it thinks boys and girls should and shouldn’t do, but our kids are not going to get any judgment from their dads.
Yes, their dads. That’s the tricky part. Our home is a mom-free zone, so if our little girl really wants to explore her feminine side, she’s kind of screwed. It’s not that we wouldn’t support it. It’s just that Drew and I are kind of clueless about that stuff.
For my money, there’s nothing cuter than a little girl in pigtails. But you might as well ask me to splice an atom as to put them in. I mean, I wouldn’t even know what equipment I’d need to start. We’ve had a number of attempts at pigtails, but they always end up in screams, tears and, eventually, a pathetic asymmetry. My daughter deserves better.
I’m not even sure where a barrette is supposed to go or why the hairbands always look so weird when they come down across her forehead, Olivia Newton-John style. Isn’t that where they go?
One thing we can pretty much guarantee, though… if Sutton gets some fancy thing in her hair, Bennett’s going to want one, too. And seriously, could you say no to this?
Thankfully, Drew got a tip from another gay dad he knows, a guy with twin daughters of his own who had no idea at first how to pretty them up.
“It’s all on YouTube,” he explained. “Girls teach you how to do their hair. That’s how we learned.”