a mash-up of medicine & breaking (families)
In this age of digital social media sharing, Tweet’ing every aspect of our lives and Facebook’ing every detail of our day-to-days, is there a realm of personal disclosure that pushes the limits of appropriateness and risks fracturing familiar relationships as a result?
The question emerged recently in a family discussion, and with no intended offense to the parties involved (who may someday read this essay) here is a summary of what happened: Relative A was in the hospital. Relative B went to visit, took a photo on their phone, and posted said photo to the Internet. Relatives C through Z (and likely a few others) viewed the photo.
#100happydays #dailyhappy (20/100) …waking up to find my daughter cuddled up beside me. #sheHadABadDream
“Daddy.” She whispers sharply into my ear, simultaneously nudging my shoulder and jostling the pillow. “I’m hungry.”
I’m (mostly) still sleeping, but the persistence in her voice tells me that this is not the first time she has asked. It’s shortly after six on a Saturday morning, the only day of the week when stealing a few extra winks is even remotely possible. Except it never is. “Go get a snack.” I deflect, hoping she’ll scurry towards the kitchen and find herself some dry cereal or something.
“Daddy.” She repeats. “I want pancakes. It’s Saturday.”
For three years, with only the rarest of exceptions, Saturday morning is pancake day. We get up. I make coffee. We assemble the ingredients while the cast iron pan warms on the stove. And by the time seven-thirty rolls around it is time to wake up mom and call her down for breakfast.
But it is 6:12,at least according to the glowing green numbers displayed on the alarm clock beside my bed. It is not 7:30. “Go back to bed.” I insist in the best dad-voice I can muster less than a minute after being woken from a rather peaceful slumber.
“I’m hungry.” She repeats.
“Then go make the batter yourself and call me when you are ready to cook them.” I suggest with only the faintest glimmer of a hope that my ploy for a few extra Zs will work.
But… footsteps, no reply, and for an imperceptibly short moment I drift back into the semi-consciousness of a desperate sleep-in.
When the muffled clangs and clatters filtering through the floor finally rouse me once again, I stumble downstairs to three sights: a somewhat messy kitchen, a nearly-ready-to-cook bowl of pancake batter, and a grinning six-year-old.
fostering independence, rule 006
opportunities are cooking everywhere: so sometimes just stay in bed
What’s a mixing bowl worth? Or a carton of spilled milk? She’d seen me mix the ingredients for pancakes so often that the recipe was grilled into her memory. The final batter was a bit runny, but in the end nothing broke. Very little spilled. And the beaming pride that bubbled even more than the hot flapjacks on the grill was worth the mess.
I could have been there to fully supervise and perhaps there may have been one or two fewer bits of eggshell in the batter, but there is learning to be had in taking risks. Just sometimes those risks involve sitting still and letting your daughter take over the tradition, even when breakfast is on the line.
This is another post from my ‘Daddy Daze‘ series, an anecdotal exploration of my odd little adventures in parenting in bite-sized chunks (for your reading enjoyment) and because the last thing this world needs is yet another doting parent blog.
It’s Daylight Savings day. The clocks got set an hour backwards sometime in the middle of the night, but the girl’s internal clock will take a few days longer. Not only that, but my poor wife got trapped in some sort of server recovery issue and at almost seven in the morning has not yet been to bed. So, I’m thinking it is going to be a bit of an odd-duck sort of day.
Claire and I are sitting in our pajamas in bed, my back has a kink in it something awful, and I’m contemplating skipping my training run to just make the girls a batch of pancakes and call it a write-off.
Of course, where on such a morning back in the nineteen eighties, my folks would have directed us towards some weekend cartoons on the television, and then promptly rolled over for another couple hours of shut-eye, here in 2012 I direct Claire to go find the iPad and amuse herself with that. Normally such an offering would garner me at least an extra hour’s worth of sleep, but the overnight chaos of our house found her instead cuddled up beside me in bed and begging for tech support from her drowsy dad on a some dress-up app that was crashing.
Claire loves Minecraft. For whatever reason “The Chopping Game” is our little father-daughter gaming retreat, and on the desktop-slash-server version I’d run on a normal basis we spend spans of time listening to music while she directs the construction of interesting buildings or miscellany.
But, obsessed as I am, at various points in history I’ve also sprung some coin on the iOS version as well as the Android mobile version. She’s got the iOS version figured out in the monster-free, unlimited-sandbox-mode, Creative Play. And, the mobile version being what it is, it’s a simple couple of clicks for us to network the iPad and my Galaxy Note together into a co-operative game.
That’s right: she’s on the iPad, I’m on my phone, and at shortly after six in the morning we were basking in the glow of our touch screens and playing a daddy-daughter game of Minecraft while still hunkered down under the cozy covers.
I grabbed some screens of our little creations. The girl has it pretty much figured out, and so — I would humbly argue — it’s pretty much just us playing digital Legos with bricks of dirt, glass and cobblestone. Easier on both the feet and pocketbook, too.
If you click through the photos you’ll see we built some pretty cool stuff. But now, I’m thinking those pancakes are sounding really good, too.
I’m going to occasionally and quietly don my artist fedora, taking the opportunity to write a bit about technology, art, and interfaces for the same.
It is a topic that I find personally interesting if only because I often tell folks who label me as a techno-phile, geek, or one-of-those-IT-nerds that much of the reason technology has continued to hold my interest over the past twenty years is that it has held a load of potential for public self-expression through words, photography, and art that are otherwise closed to anyone not willing to seek wider and more legit means of publication. In other words, technology and the web has become not only a means to create and store fiction, photos, and sketches, but a means to transmit those to a broader audience.
But you already know this, right?
Of course, as time presses on, technology continually gets better at being the tool for creation of this art, where once it largely filled only the storage and sharing role. This struck home for me particularly strongly yesterday as I found myself lounging in my bed late into the evening, flipping through a digital magazine on my iPad, and — suddenly struck by a random bit of inspiration — swapped over to a sketching app called Sketch Club and proceeded to spend half an hour or so finger-painting a goofy little scene that (while not artistically spectacular) was fairly impressive if only because of how, where, and how-impromptu it was created.
The usability of technology as artistic tools is obviously increasing. And coupled with a general increase in affordability (after all sketching tablets have existed for years from companies like Wacom, but they were prohibitively expensive to all but the most committed digital artists) the age of the electronic sketch pad has apparently arrived.
Part of this interest is going grow and manifest further into a wider project (yes, another one) that I’ll explain later when I get a bit more work done on it.
So says the folks at Shaw: our signal is weak. And thus our Internetz be broke. Indeterminately. For a while, apparently. And I, with so little else to say this evening, am blogging via my droid and a(n occasionally) more reliable 3G connection.
I should read a book.
I should do something creative.
I should turn my brain off and watch a movie.
I should go for a run.
I should clean the bathrooms, do the dishes, or organize my office.
I should go to bed early.
I should put on some quiet music and just listen.
I should make cookies.
I should play a board game with my wife.
But, I’m probably going to obsess over my broken internet connection instead, fiddling with the digital cranks and levers inside my modem, until I realize it’s past my bedtime. How silly am I?
For the entire month of June I’m planning on writing a series of blog-a-day posts based on a set series of open-ended questions to myself. This is one of those posts.
June 8th // Something You Have Fixed
I was sitting here trying to think of something to write for today’s blog-a-day topic, filling time writing about the video games I was playing which was itself to fill time trying to think of something to write, thinking about how I should try and relate today’s post to something house-ish because today is the sixth anniversary of our move in date, six years from the date we took possession of this little house, and surely I’ve fixed something worth blogging about recently…
I was sitting here trying to think, and Claire who had been in bed for about half an hour (restless as normal) stumbled out and asked me for a tissue.
Now there is only one reason she ever asks for a tissue. It is on those less-and-less rare occasions when she has been quietly tucked away in a corner or in bed picking her nose and she has caused it to bleed. Yeah, kids do that. I’m kinda used to it. I’m kinda used to the snot. I’m kinda used to the gross. Whatever.
So, of course, me alone — because Karin is off at dance rehearsal — is sitting here and Claire tromps out of her bed, face smeared red with nose-bleed blood, and the tears of realization starting to well behind eyes sinking ever closer and deeper into kiddie fear and frustrations. And I — sitting here on the couch with a laptop computer on my knee — realize I need to react, quickly, now, jumping to action to avoid a full size gusher, because every other time this has happened it’s not only the blood that gets everywhere but the wailing, screaming tears that follow quickly behind.
We move quickly to the bathroom (for the light, the sink, and the ease of later cleanup — but definitely not for the mirror that only threatens to amplify the aforementioned tear-fest.) I tell her to look at me. Just look. Not at the mirror. At me. And I dab her nose, pinching the flow. I swab the blood and just keep telling her to look in my eyes. I just keep repeating that, locking her trembling stare with mine, as a worked quickly to stop the red gusher on her face. I ask her questions. I distract her. And slowly, slowly, slowly… the blood stops. Slowly.
And then we do the bedtime thing again. Wash her face. Tuck her in. Shout assurances from down the dark hallway. Until… now, all is quiet.
Every year about this time I start to think about New Years Resolutions. Why, you may ask, considering I am actually fairly lousy at keeping them? I think the answer is simply this: optimism. One day something — anything — is going to stick, and my good intentions will pay off. That, and if I keep raising that metaphorical ‘bar’ so high, I may not ever manage to leap over it — but at least I’m leaping.
This year is hardly any different. Surprised? Of course, not. So read on.
Of course, last year I also took the time to jot down some general — let’s call them — guidelines for setting resolutions. Having been found mixed success in the two resolutions I set last year, and having taken the time to review the guidelines I developed, I have decided those rules still stick — for the most part — and I’m reprinting them below for your own resolving reference.
But before I get into that — and having the notions still brewing in my head about what I want to resolve for this year — I thought I’d write a little more about writing.
For those who care, I’m still kinda stumbling through on the whole crazy writing project from last year. You know the one, right? “Three Sixty Five for Three Sixty Five. Knowing full well that 2006 was a bad year for my creative self, I\’ve decided to set the goal of a very simple and reasonable 365 words per day. Not much. Just a short page with a medium sized font. That works out to about 2,555 words a week and nearly 135,000 in a year. A solid length of a first draft of a novel. The trick: this is accountable on Sunday night before bed, so it doesn\’t matter if I don\’t write a word the other six days (though that would be stupid) on Sunday night, the word-budget comes due.” What actually came out of that was 44,435 of 135,000 words — or about 33% of the original goal.
Now, one wouldn’t normally win accolades for achieving a mere third of what one set out to do. And I’m not fishing for such praise. But I would like to note two things: (1) Nearly forty-five thousand words is a fairly impressive collection of text in itself, and at about 300 words per page, that works out to roughly one hundred and fifty pages of text. And (2) that in taking all that time to write — and write, and write, and WRITE — while I came away short of the ultimate goal, I did set the foundations for a whole writing construct upon which I’m hoping to base one of my 2008 resolutions.
And the rules for those resolutions again?
- Set only one (or at most two) goal(s) for the year. Anything more and you just can’t keep track and some are bound to slip off the radar.
- Keep things simple. Don’t do a 180 degree turn on your life. Baby steps are the answer. Tweak only, don’t slash and hack.
- Go incremental. You don’t need to change on January 1, 2007. You need to have a goal for December 31, 2007.
- Don’t deny. Add something positive to your life. Or at least put a positive spin on it. You know, don’t “avoid sugar” rather “experiment with healthier food.”
- Rewards are fine, but mostly they don’t work. Rather, just reward yourself with the change or build the reward into the change. Oh, and bragging rights. Those are always pretty sweet.
Thus, my goal is this: within the confines of the construct arising from last year’s project, I am going write, edit, and polish (ideally for publication in some form) at least four short stories by the end of next year. This fits into the rules as follows:
- This is resolution number 1 of 1 (so far).
- Simple? I’m just building on last year’s project.
- I’m giving myself a year to write four stories of undetermined length.
- Not denial — unless you count how much free time I’ll have for TV.
- Reward is sweeeeeeet satisfaction.
Of course, as things get clearer and more interesting I’ll share the details of my progress here. But for now… well, we’ll see how it goes.
For those reading who prefer pretty pictures to words, I updated the gallery last night just before I went to bed. It’s one of those wandering photo-expedition-type collections, so you know… lots of macros and things abstract.
Speaking of cameras, I was thinking it would be neat to strap a camera to Sparkle somehow and then take her somewhere to run. “SparkleCam” streaming video. I’ll think about it some more and keep you up to date.
And speaking of streaming video, it’s TV turnoff week starting today. So, yeah. Unplug for a few days. In that same vein, expect to see a little more materialize here, there, and everywhere. I’ll have a little more focus, I suppose.
We’ve discovered a new behavior management tool for Sparkle. When it comes to going places she is not supposed to go, she has been getting a little more bold. More often, we’ve been finding a half-chewed rawhide on our bed or catching a ‘bad-little-puppy’ standing up on the couch looking out the living room window.
We clipped her nails yesterday, I sitting in the lazyboy holding her while Karin operated the snips. She, the little wimp she is, would not go near the lazyboy all night after that electing to cower in the dining room. Even the lure of treats and nibbles could not tempt her within more that ten feet of me sitting in the big red chair.
So, we think, next time we need to clip her nails we’re going to do it on our bed, or the couch, or in the pantry, or in our closet, or… you get the point. Next time: all bad associations (and heck, we are almost experts at clipping so I don’t see what the problem is anyhow!) will be generated in correspondingly resticted places of the house.
Treadmill: 10 minutes, moderately fast, 1.1 miles
Weights: Lower body, 3 sets
Stationary Bike: 12 minutes: 4 miles.
Sparkle decided she needed to pee at 5:30 this morning. So I reluctantly climbed out of a warm bed, fetched the dog, walked her downstairs, and let her outside so she could casually meander around her run while I stood half conscious and cold in the doorway. Rather than leash her back up and go back to bed, we climbed into the lazyboy together and stole another seventy-five minutes of sleep, I semi-lucidly dreaming about vaccuming pine needles out the carpet, and she draped across my lap for a while before finding her way inside my fleece and putting her cold nose on my neck. We slept too long for either a walk or a coffee, so really, it was a morning with mixed results.