First of all, welcome back after summer break. I hope everybody enjoyed their time either with family or friends or even by yourself if that is your thing. Whether it’s time away on a trip, weekends at the shore, hanging out at a lake, nights at the ball field, double features at the drive in, or even just reading a book for pleasure, summer is a good time to catch up on quality time doing things that are fun. There is a vibe about summer that I truly enjoy. Kids stay up late and get to sleep in later in the morning. I know I love summer because growing up in Pittsburgh, it was the time of year that you could have the top down on the car and actually enjoy the weather outside (in between those summer thunderstorms, of course).
We spent our summers swimming at the pool all day, playing baseball every night, and when we didn’t have games, we were usually at the field watching our friends play. If we didn’t have games, we all hung out and played kick the can or release until it was time to go home. Imagine explaining to our kids that the goal of the game was somebody was “it”, and that person had to count to 30 while everyone else hid within a distance of about eight houses. When the person that was “it” was done counting, they would then have to find everyone one by one, and when they did, they raced back to the can. If the person who was “it” won the race, the one that was found was now captured. That meant that somebody else who was hiding had to run and kick the can before “it” could get there to release the captured to go hide again. It sounds ridiculous, right? Go hide and don’t move, don’t talk, just sit there until you can get to the can before “it”, and you are the hero of the night. But if you are found and captured, you sit there until somebody releases you. We had one kid, Bob Alexander, who I swear may still be under the bushes in front of the Durkin’s house right now. He would disappear to the point where everybody would just go home and the game was over. I don’t know where Bob ended up, but he would have made a great spy.
Anyways, fast forward to today, and you have iPads, iPhones, Playstation, Xbox, Wii, and an app for everything. You have Netflix, Hulu, shows On Demand, everything else DVR’d, and I haven’t even mentioned social media like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Textfree and who knows what else. It’s harder and harder to just take the quality time and just TALK to each other. Between working, running the kids around to their activities, and keeping up with each other via our social media networks, it’s tough to get in that 15 minute phone call. Sometimes, a text back forth will do, and I love those. It’s a way to connect nowadays, and I encourage you to text someone to “just check in” or “say hello”. You can text me anytime, and I will return it as promptly as possible, depending what is going on in the ocean of estrogen that I reside in each and every day. Occasionally, that text will result in a setting up a time to catch up via the phone, FaceTime, or even a meal together. Anything to get in some quality time.
For us, that is what we did. We took the summer off from softball, pitching lessons, extra school work, and pretty much got off every routine that we had, and just slowed things down. With a new baby in the house, it was a perfect time to do that. The older girls, now 11 and 9, have really become full time babysitters and big sisters who adore their baby sister and do everything for her. Literally, they feed her, change diapers, play with her, sing and read to her, carry her around, watch the Baby Einstein videos with her, and put her to bed. No joke, there were a couple nights after Daddy came home from bowling on Saturday night and passed out on the couch with all the kids awake and Mama at work. That is my long day at work, I go straight to bowling after working 10 hours, have a few beers, throw three games, and it is gonzo time on the couch. I wake up in a panic at 1am, only to find the girls in their beds, the baby in her crib, and all the lights off in the house. It is an amazing thing watching these kids grow up, take on responsibility, and truly become more independent, let alone take care of their Daddy after he falls asleep on the couch before they go to bed.
With all of this growing up and constantly trying to find things to do together, we did a few new things in addition to the usual stuff. We did a drive in movie for the first time as a family. Note to self, wait until it cools off a little next time, as sitting outside in July in Las Vegas when it is still over 100 degrees is not really that much fun. We had our first sleepover. The 11 year old had two of her friends, also 11, sleep over at the house. So, in addition to my own three girls and wife, I have two more. They get dropped off on a Sunday at 2pm, it’s 109 outside, and by 5pm, they are out of activities to do in the house, and I am out of my mind. I say, “Does anyone want to go roller skating?” It sounded like 10,000 girls at a One Direction concert!!! I am a hero. We load up everybody into the minivan and go to Crystal Palace for the session that ends at 7pm.
Much to my surprise, after we get the skates, I come to find out that these two girls have NEVER roller skated before. Well, at this point, we are not leaving, there is only an hour and a half left in the session, so it’s go time. I laced up each of their skates one by one and that was a workout in itself. Off you go, follow my girls around and have fun. Luckily, it was non stop laughter and fun for them for the entire hour and a half. From there, it was off to the Red Rock buffet where each kid could pick their own dinner because as most of you know, it is IMPOSSIBLE to figure out where to go eat when you ask everybody’s opinion. Now, back home, they are looking around at each other with that “what do we do now” look.
As I am known in the ocean of estrogen as the cruise ship director of recreation, where I am the leader of fun and activities in the house, I suggest a game of Yahtzee. One girl never played, the other only played it on the iPad. I broke out the dice and the score pads and said this is how we used to play when we were kids. More laughing, the inevitable sulking when the nine year old gets Yahtzee twice, but a good time had by all. At this point, I am done. Off to bed I go, good night girls. It’s midnight, and they are popping popcorn to watch a movie in the family room, laying on cots we set up along with the couches.
Mama comes upstairs and we pass out. Not more than an hour later, the nine year old comes up to tell us that one of the girls wants to go home. Apparently, they have never slept over at anyone’s house other than their grandmother’s, and this is not working for her. My 11 year old and the other one are asleep, but my 9 year old and the other 11 year old are up. This is Mama’s department. She goes down and ends up sleeping on the floor so the friend can fall asleep. I am upstairs in the king bed enjoying the space and hogging all the covers. Disaster averted, pancakes and eggs in the morning, and we made memories of our first girls sleepover.
We also took a trip to Tampa, Florida, but that will be a post of it’s own. The girls were there for 17 days, and I joined them for the last 10. Yes, you read that right. I had 6 nights in the house by myself for the first time in 11 years. I will say this… I know why Superman had his Fortress of Solitude. Wow. At one point, I did not get off the couch for a day. I watched entire baseball games from beginning to end. I napped at will. I didn’t go outside for 24 hours. Don’t tell my girls, but I even left the toilet seat up. More on that week and trip in another post.
My girls and I also had poker nights, and I taught them how to play the card game 7 and 1/2. It’s an old Italian card game that we used to play with our grandmother, and it brought back a lot of memories. We had singing nights, dance shows, fashion shows, gymnastics shows, and hula hoop nights. We had nights where we ate dinner at 10pm, mornings when we didn’t wake up until 11am, and “Jammy Days” when everybody stayed in their pajamas all day. We went to the Strip to see the fountains at the Bellagio and even caught the Jabbawockeez show at the Luxor. We visited aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma in Phoenix for a long weekend. We did a bunch of stuff, had fun, and spent some serious quality time together.
One of the things that I will treasure from this summer is the quality talks that we had with the kids while spending all this time together. As they get older, the questions are definitely getting harder. And, in our house, there is always a why behind the first question, and the standard “because I said so” is a harder sell now. Mama and I have actually had to go to the computer and google the answer or google how to tell them what they wanted to know. One of the big ones this year was when we told them that there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, etc. Man, the whole house was crying with that one, and a wide range of emotions from anger to sadness ensued. After everyone calmed down and the reality of it all set in, the nine year old, in true character, hits on it after the lightbulb goes off in her head. “So, that is why Santa never brought us a puppy, because YOU are Santa and you don’t want a dog in the house!!” Stone cold busted.
I will leave you with this one final discussion that set me for a loop. One night, with Mama at work, the baby asleep in her crib, and the 11 year old passed out on the couch, the nine year old and I are watching America’s Got Talent together. We do this often as a family, and we all “vote” for our favorites and buzz the ones we don’t like. Near the end of this show, out comes an 84 year old man named Ray Jessel to sing a song. For those of you who can’t open the link below, here are the lyrics.
The guy looks like Albert Einstein or Doc from Back to the Future, and he sits at the keyboard and in a slow, catchy show tune melody, comes with this:
I met this girl, and she’s just great…this girl I just adore
The problem is, she has much more…than I had bargained for
She’s got that style, she’s got that smile…
She’s got the walk, she’s got the talk…
She’s got that zing, there’s just one thing…
She’s got… a penis (Ba-dump-bump-bump)
She’s got that flair, knows what to wear
She’s got that face, that girl is grace…
She’s got pizazz, too bad she has…
a penis (Ba-dump-bump-bump)
Now there’s always some failure, always some flaw,
Aint that what they call Murphy’s Law…
The male genitalia, that’s where I draw the line…
Besides, hers is bigger than mine…
My life’s a mess, cause under that dress…
She’s got a P-E-N-I-S
BOOM!!! Funny song, completely unexpected, and I am laughing out loud. The crowd loved it, the judges loved it, and all gave him a yes vote. Within five seconds, I get this from across the room:
“Daddy, what is a penis?”
Hmmm…a quick glance to my left, then my right, and finally over my shoulder. No help anywhere, Mama is at work. I am on an island. Beads of sweat instantly form on my forehead. Stay calm. Be honest, that is what all the experts say to do when you talk to the kids. Ok, here goes…
“A penis is a boy’s pee pee. That is the actual word for it.” Short, brief, and to the point. The wheels are turning in her head. Oh, boy, here comes the follow up.
“But, Daddy, I thought that was called your balls.” MAN, I might as well be under hot lights in an interrogation room. Where the hell is this headed?
“No, those are actually called testicles. Boys have both a penis and testicles.” She giggles at the word testicles. I do all I can to not laugh, but it is a funny word. All the saliva is gone from my mouth. On the outside, I am calm, but inside, I am in knots. She is thinking.
“OK, Daddy, if a boy’s pee pee is called a penis and their balls are called what again?” Testicles. “OK, testicles. Sounds like popsicles.” Yes, yes it does.
“Then what is a girl’s pee pee called?”
IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING??? AM I REALLY HAVING THIS TALK RIGHT NOW? Just keep it together and answer the question.
“A girl’s pee pee is called a vagina.” She looks at me like I am no longer speaking English.
“A what Daddy?” Va-JI-na. “Va what?” I repeat it again, slower and with more clarity.
“Vagina?” Yes. “Vagina, vagina, vagina” Very good. PLEASE TELL ME I AM DONE NOW. I am frozen, looking her right in the eye, willing her to please have mercy on me and say let’s go to bed. Seconds that felt like minutes pass, I can hear my heart beating through my chest. And then, it comes:
“Ok, Daddy, I don’t get it. If boys have a penis and girls have a vagina, how can the girl in the song have a penis?? How is that even possible?” OMG!!! WTF!!! HELP ME!!!
Despite wanting to jump up like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men and blurting out “YOU WANT ANSWERS??? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH…”, I jumped up off the couch, turned the TV off and went with:
“C’mon, it’s time for bed. We’ll watch this again WITH MAMA tomorrow, and we’ll explain it to you TOGETHER.” BOOM, the blog is BACK.
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