Booze Writer Problems, Pt. 1

As is the custom for Weevy’s school, the teachers in the 2’s program pay a home visit to all the students — in order, I suppose, to observe them in an environment in which they’re totally comfortable and not missing Mommy/Daddy/Nanny.  And probably to make sure the parents aren’t caning them or something.

I’m a spirits reviewer, so I get a lot of bottles of liquor in the mail.  And I’m also a hoarder, so I don’t unload as many of them as I should.  “This whiskey isn’t that great,” I often think, “but hey, I can’t use the really good stuff in cocktails.  I need mediocre whiskey in case, you know, we’re having a big party and I need to make punch or something.”  Never mind that we’ve had one party since Weevy was born more than two years ago and I’ve never actually made punch or anything close to it.  It’s just how my mind works.

Now, we live in Manhattan.  And while our apartment is pretty big by Manhattan standards, that doesn’t mean it’s very big.  We’ve got liquor bottles just about everywhere I can think to store them, but even that’s not enough.  So there are bottles on the bedroom floor, on the living room floor, on the bar, on the floor behind the bar, on the dining table, you name it.

Of course, Weevy has never expressed any interest in said bottles.  No, wait, I take that back — for a little while she was intrigued by the 50 ml “airline bottles” I often had lying around.  But I put those on a high shelf in an armoire where she can’t see them and all is now well.  Anyway, my point is that she’s not becoming an alcoholic merely by seeing a few dozen bottles lying around the house.  In fact, I think she ignores them as much as my wife and I do.  But a teacher whose job it is to look after the welfare of her students, and who barely knows me at all, might think a little differently.

So you can understand my slight panic at the thought of Penny, Weevy’s teacher, seeing more booze than we could drink in a decade sitting in our living room and immediately calling Child Protective Services.  After much deliberation — a good five minutes at least — we decided to take the vast majority of the bottles on the floor in various rooms and stick them all in the bathroom.  We’re blessed with two bathrooms, so we’d steer Penny to the boozeless one if need be.

The whole thing wound up being unnecessary.  Penny was half an hour late and Weevy was too exhausted after a morning of sobbing and wailing in school (a whole ‘nuther story, don’t ask) to stay awake.  So Wifey and Penny and I chatted for a while in the hallway and that was it.  Crisis averted.

For six days, at least.  She’s coming back on Monday.  The big question — do I move the bottles from the bathroom between now and then?  Or do we just make sure not to kick them when we get out of the shower?

Playground Vigilante

Even as a kid, I hated the playground. I was shy, introverted, non-confrontational, and I hated getting sand between my toes. So stick me in the Lord Of The Flies-type atmosphere that is a playground and you’d get an unhappy child, with tears quite a high likelihood.

I’ve never really lost that feeling. I mean, it’s not like I ever really went to playgrounds from when I was about seven until Weevy was born, but even walking past them I’d get that feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. The playground is where kids can be kids, largely unfettered by adult supervision. And when kids can be kids, I’ve generally found that a lot of them tend to be obnoxious little assholes.
Weevy, thankfully, is not like me. She’s friendly, outgoing, gregarious, and of course — much to my dismay — she loves going to the playground. I’d like to think it’s because I help make sure she has a good time playing there, but I think it’s really because she’s not the timid little wuss I am.
But she’s still only two years old, which means she’s prone to getting taken advantage of by older kids — they try to cut her in line, take toys out of her hand, that sort of thing, with absolutely no sense of subtlety. And that’s where I come in. At some point, I’m going to let her stand up for herself, really I am. But while she’s still one of the smallest kids in the playground, I’m going to watch over her like a fucking hawk.
Occasionally, the realization that I am an Adult, a genuine Authority Figure, on the playground goes to my head and I say some of the things I wish I could have said back when I was a kid without getting my ass kicked. It started innocently enough, when I stopped a kid from basically knocking Weevy over in an attempt to climb over her on a ladder. “You have to wait your turn,” I said sternly, “and when she’s finished climbing, you can go up right behind her.” He meekly obeyed without whining. I thought that was nice, so I said to Weevy, “Say ‘thank you.'” She ignored me, but the KID, who thought I was talking to him, dutifully said “Thank you.”
Well, from then on I kinda became unstoppable. I see some snapperhead standing in a puddle with a demonic look in his eye getting ready to splash Weevy, I give him the look and he stops. But I don’t stop. “Hey, kid, you got some issues, don’t you. Splashing two-year-old girls? Your parents got you in therapy for that?” That sort of thing. I always get met with a blank look, but they always stop whatever hijinx they’re up to.
Friday afternoon I made the mistake of bringing Weevy to the big kids’ playground on 68th St. I don’t mind the tots’ playground which is right next to it, because all the kids are Weevy’s age, pretty much, and most of them haven’t learned how to be too obnoxious yet. But the big kids… forget it.
I was in a cranky mood to begin with, so when we were literally sitting at the top of the slide and a six-year-old boy said, “I’m gonna go in front of you” as he tried to shove past us, I lost it. “You know, kid,” I said, “you’re the reason I hate playgrounds.”
His eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “You HATE playgrounds?”
“Yeah, I really do.”
“Because,” I said, my voice rising, “kids like you try to CUT MY TWO YEAR OLD DAUGHTER ON LINE ALL THE TIME! WHY DO YOU DO THAT, HUH?”
As I was yelling, I accidentally bumped poor Weevy’s head on a metal bar and of course she started bawling. The kid didn’t see it. “Is that why she’s crying?”
“Well, no,” I said, hugging her and stroking her head while she screamed bloody murder. “But just don’t cut in front of us, OK?”
I tried for a couple of minutes to calm her down while the kid impassively looked on. Eventually, he said, “Excuse me, if you’re not going to slide down, may I please slide down?” It has not been in vain, I thought, as I hastily went down the slide with Weevy in my lap. For the record, I did tell the kid that it was very polite and sweet of him to ask like that. I may be a playground vigilante, but show me good manners and I’ll give you credit every time.

Chef Daddy

In certain ways, I’m a pretty decent cook.  I can assemble a mean sandwich.  My wife says I make veggie burgers far better than she ever could (how I do this, given that they’re frozen Boca burgers that I just heat up, I don’t know).  I make a damn good dumpling sauce.  But when it comes to actual cooking, with raw ingredients and that sort of jazz, I’m clueless and damn near helpless.  I need refresher courses before cooking pasta — which always comes out undercooked regardless.  And until today, I don’t think I’d ever cooked an egg.

But there I was, alone in the apartment with Weevy, who was at the dining table surfing YouTube videos on the iPad, when she said “Egg?”

“Um, you want an egg?”

“Yes?” (She phrases just about everything like a question — this will come in handy during her teen years, when all her friends will start doing it too.)

OK.  Go to the fridge, pray that we’re out of eggs.  DAMN, there are a good half dozen in there.  Consider lying to Weevy, but then make the tougher, bolder decision — to man up and make her a scrambled egg all by my lonesome, as if I’m a real grownup or something.

I get out the frying pan, spray some Pam on it (I’m clueless, but not THAT clueless), heat it up, crack the egg, put contents of said egg in the frying pan, and pray.

Weevy likes her eggs scrambled, so I grab a fork and start sloshing the stuff around.  And sure enough, within a couple of minutes, I have a fully cooked scrambled egg in the pan.  Holy shit!  Why didn’t someone tell me it was that easy?

I resist the urge to say “Look, Weevy, I did it!  I made an egg!” and simply bring it out to her all nonchalant, like I’ve done it a million times before.  “Here’s your egg, sweetie.”

Of course, she ate about three bites before she decided she wanted ice cream instead.  I considered having the remains bronzed, but I wound up throwing them out — after having a few bites myself, of course.  Best damn egg I’ve ever had.  Move over, Jacques Pepin.

Daddy Came Back

Weevy’s been to three days of school so far, and Tuesday was the first day I was allowed to leave the room.  As instructed, I went up to her, gave her a big hug, and said “Daddy’s going out for a little while, but I’ll see you very soon, OK?”  She was busy with the Play-Doh and barely looked up.  “Daddy work?” she asked.  (Her explanation whenever she can’t see someone is that they’re either sleeping or at work.)  “That’s right, Daddy work.”
I was shuttled into a hallway/parents’ holding pen, where there were a bunch of moms, a few nannies, and one other dad.  Of course, his kid’s nanny was in the room with the kid, and he left in short order to go to work.  I felt a little ostracized — cliques were already forming — but I managed to make conversation with a few moms before I turned my attention to the iPhone, on which the wife was texting me with questions like “Does she look cuter than all the other kids?”  I have no idea how I handled myself in social situations pre-iPhone.

After what seemed like an eternity but was only about an hour, we were herded back into the classroom, where I found Weevy sobbing — I think, or hope, that it’s because I was one of the last parents to come back in.  You know, the whole ‘ladies first” thing.  As soon as she saw me, she stopped crying, and as I scooped her into my arms, she exclaimed, “Daddy came back!”  And for the next hour or so, it was “Daddy came back!” on endless loop, with the occasional description of the situation — “Cry?  Water eyes?  Daddy came back!  Happy?” (She phrases most of her words like questions.)

At home later on, she asked me for a wipe to clean her hands.  “Wipe wipe wipe?”  I’d never heard her say that before.  “Is that what they taught you to say in school?”  “Yes?”  Holy shit, I’d MISSED something!  I mean, I haven’t been there for every waking moment of her life, but when I wasn’t around, my wife or in-laws were there.  This was the first thing which Weevy had to tell me about herself.  I don’t know if I like this.

Babies & Booze: Welcome To My World

I’ve been meaning to do this ever since my daughter, Vivienne, was born more than two years ago.  Not just because stay-at-home dads are pretty trendy right now, and not just because a stay-at-home dad who gets paid to drink probably has some commercial possibilities — that’s why my wife wanted me to start a blog.  But more than anything, I want to record for posterity all the ridiculous shit Weevy (that’s her nickname) and I do every day, so that one day when she’s the one wiping the drool off my bib I can show this to her.  I don’t want all the amazing things she’s doing to slip from memory and disappear completely.  So think of this, in part at least, as a big dustbin into which I throw the detritus of Weevy’s and my life together.  Or something like that.  And if anyone else wants to read it, that’s fine too.

It only makes sense to start at the beginning.  I know so many people who told me, when the missus was pregnant and I was freaking out about impending fatherhood, that “as soon as you lay eyes on her you’ll totally fall in love.”  Well, I’d like to just say for the record that it’s not the case.  When they pulled my bloody, slimy, wrinkled daughter from out of my wife’s genitalia — doesn’t birth sound like something straight out of a horror movie? — I did NOT fall in love.  It was more like “Nice to meet you,” combined with “So let me get this straight — I’m going to be obsessing about your welfare pretty much constantly, certainly for the next couple of decades and probably until the day I die.  Alrighty then!”  And of course there was a soupçon of “Holy shit, what do I do now?”  The love came later.

I’ll probably jump back and forth chronologically, since I’ve got two years and change to catch up on in addition to the day-to-day stuff.  Just warning you.