Wednesday, June 24 2020

alarm clock songs, hooks cheddar, and dinner prayers

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! How is this Wednesday treating you so far? If you sprung out of bed on time and kept your morning on the rails, I envy you. I somehow managed to oversleep again.

"I'm so tired of oversleeping," I complained as I poured Marissa a cup of coffee. "I don't know how it happens."

"It's frustrating," she answered. "I have the same problem. It's like your brain just makes the decision for you. You know, you could try just charging your phone over by your desk so it's harder to turn off."

"Nah," I replied. "That's good advice, but I like my phone on the nightstand. I think I'll just switch to a more abrasive alarm. And maybe set it to go off twice."

After getting a new phone, I switched my alarm clock to play Kanye West's Hey Mama, and while it's a good groove for the morning, it might just be a little too relaxing to get me to spring out of bed. I think the situation has gotten so bad that I'll need to switch back to the much more abrasive, more reliable Today is Alright 4 2Nite.

Sip. So I got a new notebook in the mail yesterday. In the next few weeks, I'm going to experiment with taking hand written notes. Marissa has been living out of her day planner lately, and I guess I got a little envious at her quaint workflow.

Leaving college, for me, pretty much marked the end of handwritten notes in my day to day life. Working in front of a computer every day, it seemed sensible to just move every aspect of my life to the computer - To-do lists, writing, scratch space and organizing my life. But now that I'm spending so much more time at home, it's becoming harder to steal a seat in front of a keyboard every time a thought pops into my head.

I kicked things off yesterday by making a good old fashioned handwritten grocery list. I was surprised at how rusty I was in organizing my thoughts on paper. It takes a lot more focus, and there are obvious tradeoffs in speed while editing text. While penning the list, it felt like my brain was still sending the signals to my fingers to copy-paste, search text, and do other functions you can only do on a computer.

I expect good things to come out of this switch to paper. Last night before shutting my eyes for the night, I was able to jot down a few extra thoughts for my journal entry in the morning - thoughts that would have probably faded away in my sleepy brain if not for a pen and paper at my bedside.

Yesterday was a good day. After making a grocery list and cleaning up the kitchen, Rodney and I went to Hy-Vee. The highlight of our trip was picking up a block of Hooks 8 year white cheddar. Hooks cheese is funny, because even thought the packaging looks very similar for the 8 year, 10 year, and 20 year cheese, the price varies almost exponentially. If you're not careful, you might accidentally treat yourself to a $40 block of cheese, and even thought that would make your fajitas taste amazing, there are better ways to use that kind of cheese. If you've never had the pleasure, you should figure out a way to try Hooks cheddar, or any good Wisconsin cheddar. It's an otherworldly experience.

Back at home, Rodney went up to his room for quiet time while Marissa and I put the groceries away. We had fajitas for dinner - one large seasoned ribeye steak seared in a pan, then deglazed with red onions and bell peppers. And just for kicks, we threw in some sliced garlic and raw red onion. Marissa also made a bowl of guacamole.

As good as the meal was, there was drama at our dinner table. In our house, we begin every meal with a simple kid friendly prayer: Lord bless this food and drink, for Jesus' sake, Amen. For every meal, we take turns, and by now, Rodney must have said the prayer aloud with us a thousand times. But lately, he's shown some resistance in leading the prayer by himself before dinner.

"Rodney, we need you to do the prayer tonight, dude," I said sternly. Rodney whimpered, averted his eyes, and gave a long, forlorn sigh.

"Rodney don't want," said Rodney.

I tried to broach the subject again while putting him to bed. "Are you happy or sad today?" I asked.

"Sad," said Rodney, selling it with a pout.

"What's making you sad today?" I asked.

"You!" His chipper tone hardly matched the sharp accusation. It hit my heart like a dart.

"Daddy's making you sad? What did daddy do that made you sad?" I asked. Rodney's voice trailed off, and only the tail end of his muttering resembled Lord Bless this food.

"Why does praying before dinner make you sad?" I asked. Pulling his bedsheet up to his chin, Rodney looked visibly uncomfortable. "I miss Alice," he said.

I don't think Rodney is quite old enough to field why questions yet. I think in the past few weeks, I'm guilty of treating him like he's older than he actually is. I've even caught myself prematurely referring to him as a four year old a few times. Rodney has started acting like an older kid since adding a younger brother to the family, but I have to remember that he still has a lot of toddler brain in him. I think that when he has a hard time explaining why he's sad or angry, he expresses it with something else that makes him sad or angry that's easier to explain, like missing his cousin, Alice.

"New idea, dude. Why don't you sit up," I said, helping Rodney lean forward. "Let's pretend we're eating dinner. What are we eating?"

"Mac and cheese," said Rodney with a grin.

"Here's a big scoop of mac and cheese for you, sir," I said miming a spoon onto his imaginary plate. "Would you like chocolate icecream on the side?"

"Yes sir," he said offering me his plate again.

"What do you want to drink? I'm drinking chocolate milk, and I'm going to put a scoop of icecream in that too. Want some?" I asked.

"Yes sir - thank you sir," said Rodney in his dinner party voice.

"OK," I continued. "We have our plates, we have our drinks. Now what do we do?"

"Fold hands," said Rodney. I showed him a big smile.

"Great, and now what do we do?" I asked.

"Lord bless this food and drink, for Jesus sake," recited Rodney with his eyes closed. He gave me a silly look, peeking one eye from behind his folded hands before finishing the prayer with a hushed Amen.

"That's it, dude. That's all we want you to do," I said.

"Oh. OK," said Rodney.

Who knows how much of the conversation actually landed with Rodney, but I think with kids, the what conversation is a lot more important than the why. That's a difficult rule to stick to, because I have thousands of why questions for Rodney. Why do you wear long pants and socks on your hands to pretend your Spider-Man when you have an actual Spider-Man halloween costume in your closet? Why can't you tell the difference between the taste of raw sugar and the taste of raw flour? Why do you keep bringing bugs inside the house and leaving your toys in the yard? Why won't you recite a simple prayer before dinner?

Rodney smiled back up at me, and even though I didn't understand what was different and why he felt OK, it felt like we had reconciled.

"Dada, I'm hungry," said Rodney. "My tummix is making me hungry again."

As tempting as it was to make him a grilled cheese, or sneak him up a marshmallow or a few pieces of chocolate, I resisted.

"You know what I do when I'm hungry?" I said. "I just think about breakfast. Think about what you want for breakfast tomorrow."

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful day.