Friday, August 7 2020

outdoor play, fortune cookies, and card throwing

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday. Congratulations on powering through another work week.

Looking at my calendar, I have two more full weeks of paternity leave, then a random little Monday off before returning to my job. What is a job, anyway? I have faint, foggy memories about a time in my life when I used to work on the computer for people, and I have even fainter memories about a time where I used to ride a bus to a big building to work on a different computer.

How exciting. I'm looking forward to going back to work, if anything just so I can say 'happy Friday' and actually feel it. For too long have I felt I've been cheering everyone else on from the sidelines, detached from the greater 9 to 5, Monday to Friday rhythm of the universe.

Sip. We had a great day yesterday - Thursday. After wrapping up writing and breakfast, Rodney decided to spend his morning hour of dad accompanied playtime on some outdoor sports. I poured a cup of coffee and followed him out into the backyard. On the way out, he struggled to put to words the activity he was picturing in his head.

"Hitters," he said. "Here I show you. Get your coffee. They're in the shed."

I set my coffee mug down on the pavement, and with a heave, flung open the heavy wood door. Rodney clambered between his bike and a stack of tied up cardboard boxes, then over the lawn mower. I followed him all the way to the back wall.

"There," he said. "Hitters." Rodney pointed to two squash rackets resting on the highest shelf.

"Dude, I didn't even know we had those," I laughed, fishing them out from underneath a pile of toys.

And after all that work, we only played our version of squash for a few minutes. After getting tired of chasing after the plastic whiffle ball, Rodney threw down his racket and began to scour through our pile of toys in the corner for something else to do.

I feel like I got off easy for playtime. Whether it was soccer, baseball, or our made up game of beach, all of these games were feasible to play one handed, freeing me up to continue drinking coffee. Meanwhile, the hot summer sun did all the work of tiring Rodney out.

"Let's take a break a little bit," said Rodney, grabbing a seat beside me on the lawn chair. He took a swig of cold milk. "I think I'm going to mow the lawn a little bit."

Rodney rose from his chair and dug his plastic lawn mower out of the corner. He pretended to pull a cord, then proceeded to push it around the yard. "Lookout, Zig zig. Zig zig, lookout," he commanded while unfairly beelining toward her from across the hard.

For lunch, I whipped up a double batch of blue box mac and cheese and heated up some leftovers, priming us for an excellent afternoon nap. The whole house seemingly shut down, and I sailed off into the kind of sleep that is so deep, I had dreams in which I woke up elsewhere.

We awoke just after five. Marissa promptly ordered a flight of Chinese food for deliver, and I collected Rodney from his room. By the time the bag was left on our door, we were feeling ravenous, like a family of bears that just emerged from hibernation.

I set the table. Fried rice, chicken, egg rolls, crab rangoons, and a big plastic tub of sweet and sour sauce.

They key to maximizing your enjoyment of Chinese takeout, by the way, is to put all the leftovers away before you start eating. For some reason, knowing that the big paper back of plastic takeout boxes has already been dealt with heightens my Chinese food fulfillment.

"Man, we got a lot," I laughed.

"Yeah, we always go a little nuts with this place," said Marissa.

"We'll be eating this food for the next four days," I laughed. "And this white rice will fry up pretty nicely I think."

Before we started eating, Rodney slyly grabbed the big container of sweet and sour sauce and dumped it on his food, spilling almost half the container.

"Woah - help!" He yelled. "Mama, too much sauce."

"Yeah no kidding," Marissa laughed, reluctantly getting up to grab him a new bowl.

When we had finished eating, I handed out the fortune cookies. "You break it in half, and there is a little piece of paper inside that you read," I explained to Rodney. He crumbled his cookie, retrieving the slip of paper. He began to "read" it aloud.

"It says..." he cleared his through. "Put your hands on the table. And pick up your fork. And eat five more bites, and don't look at the pictures..."

Marissa and I began to laugh, but that might take some interpretation. Fiddling with his hands under the table, not holding his fork, getting distracted by the slideshow on the family computer - these were all things we yell at Rodney for during dinner, and he was seemingly regurgitating them back to us under the guise of a fortune.

"Can you read that again, dude?" I said, struggling to hold in laughter.

"It says..." Rodney cleared his through, recited a more garbled version of the original incantation.

"Here, Rod, can you read mine?" asked Marissa.

Rodney read all three of our fortunes. His messages got more and more cryptic as he ran out of ideas. Reflecting on it this morning, for all we know this could be what the concept of reading actually means to him. The whole structure of ideas translated into words on a page which are read in order might very well be lost on him. Maybe Rodney thinks that reading is just a time to say announce what is on your mind or just to describe what is happening on the page.

After dinner, I put on YouTube for Rodney. He watched a trick shot video that featured a guy who throws playing cards. Rodney sprang off the couch and marched around the living room, looking for our own cards. I helped Rodney find them, and the two of us set up our own trick shot.

"Dada," he said. "We need an apple. Then... wanna wanna... I put it in my mouth... and then... wanna daaayse... you throw it."

To translate, he wanted to hold an apple in his mouth while I threw the card as hard as I could, hopefully sticking it to the apple.

"That's a great idea, dude," I said. "But we don't have any apples. How about we use marshmallow?"

A dangerous stunt - and a delicious snack? It was right up his alley. Of course, I can't throw cards, so at the end of the stunt we were left with a pile of cards on the floor and a half eaten marshmallow. But the cards spawned a new favorite game.

"Here dude," I said, dragging Miles' chair to the middle of the kitchen. "Stand on this mat, and we'll see who can get the most cards to land in the chair."

Our card throwing game was a success, and weirdly Rodney has a real knack for it. He beat both me and Marissa in a totally legitimate contest.

"We'll practice after he goes to bed," I laughed.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Friday, everyone.