Wednesday, December 30 2020

rissa's sandwich, battleship, and last year's commitments



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Dear Journal,

Gooooooood evening, readers. Happy Wednesday. As of a few seconds ago, both boys are in bed. The kitchen is clean (not that I had anything to do with that). Marissa just signed on for an evening art lesson over Zoom. The last thing I have on my agenda today is writing a journal entry, and I enjoy doing that so much that it hardly feels like work.

Sip. How was your Wednesday? More of the same for us, though thanks to our prudent decision last night to pretend it was a work week and go to bed at a reasonable time, both Marissa and I had a lot more energy. Baby Miles and I hung out around the coffee pot while some bread finished in the oven. Marissa and Rodney headed out into the flurry for another round of shoveling the driveway. We reconvened around lunch time for a leftover gumbo and sandwiches.

Turkey sandwiches, to be precise. Open faced with a tangy garlic and cabbage French salad tucked in between the cheese and the meat. We've made this sandwich so many times we decided to give it a name and an official recipe page on the family cookbook. Now presenting Rissa's sandwich.

2020 12 30 rissas sandwich

Here's the recipe: Recker Family Cookbook: Rissa's Sandwich

We polished off lunch. I got up and headed into the kitchen with Rodney to clean off his hands. while I waited for the sink water to heat up, Rodney did his usual thing of wriggling around in the kitchen like a dumb boy. In this little after meal ritual, Rodney uses this thirty seconds to do jumping jacks, sprint along the walls of our tiny kitchen, or in today's case, pull down on my finger like a parachute rip cord. Rodney absent-mindedly grabbed my thick bandage and yanked downward with the weight of his tiny body.

I screamed. Not just a little eek, either. It was a loud, angry, manly scream propelled from my lungs with pure, stinging anguish. Rodney immediately began to cry. I collected myself and consoled him.

"I'm so sorry about that," gushed Rodney before I even had a chance to talk. "I not do it again."

"I bet daddy is wide awake after that," cracked Marissa without even getting up from the table.

I feel bad making a whole story out of Rodney's worst lapse in judgment today because by all other measures, the kid has been absolutely killing it. He's been helping out around the house, cleaning his plate during dinner, and did I mention he's been regularly pooping? Neither Marissa nor I know how it happened, but seemingly overnight Rodney went from being deathly afraid of pooping to just casually taking a seat in the bathroom and getting it done. The other day he said to me "pooping ain't so bad". He flushed, shrugged, then hopped off down the stairs leaving me speechless and flabbergasted.

I don't know what we did that made it click for him. Maybe somehow giving up on trying to help him gave him the space he needed to figure it out himself. But I could have sworn we already tried that method. Children can be so hopelessly random sometimes.

As Marissa slaved over dinner in the kitchen, I decided to play a game with Rodney. I selected Battleship. Even though I knew it would be nearly impossible to teach a four year old how to play, I thought it would make for a funny sound-board for Marissa while she cooked. We unfolded the plastic game pads, spilled the pieces into the trays, and broke open a fresh pack of ships. I helped Rodney arrange them around his board next to mine - we were already giving up on the secrecy angle of the game. The first game at least we would just play together.

"OK," I said. "Give me a letter and a number."

"Hmmmm," said Rodney, scanning the board. "C... G".

"Those are two letters bud. One needs to be a number."

"Nine... ten," replied Rodney.

"Those were both numbers," I laughed.

"G TEN," he yelled.

"OK great," I said. "Find the G row, now count ten squares until... dude you already called G TEN."

"Yeah," said Rodney. "G Ten!"

One of the funniest things about Rodney is that he contributes to discussions even when I'm just explaining something to him.

"So the red ones are hits," I explained. "And the white ones are misses."

"Yeah," nodded Rodney. "And these are our laptops." He jostled the game boards, sending pieces rolling across the table. "OK," he continued, taking charge. "Now we move our boats around. Dada, take your boat and put it over here."

"No no no," I laughed. "You don't move the boats. I know it seems like you should be able to, but the boats have to stay."

Marissa gave us the five minute warning for dinner. I promised we would resume our nonsense game of bizarro moving battleship another time.

Between all the fun today, I sat down at the computer and tried to come up with some resolutions, starting with trying to remember what I committed to last year. The funny thing is that I don't think I committed to anything specific for the occasion. But growing up, raising kids, and getting through a quarantine still ensured I picked up some good habits. In 2019 I became an exercise guy. I showed myself that I could stick to a simple home workout of pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups. Mixing in some cardio would have been a good idea, because I soon realized that the combination of strength training, homemade bread, and not going anywhere for a whole year can very quickly make you look like an offensive lineman. I had better shed some of this weight before I go anywhere next year so I don't scare anyone.

In 2020 Marissa and I also worked on how we deal with conflict. Not long ago a work friend got me to read the Difficult Conversations book. I liked it so much that I challenged Marissa to read it. Thanks to the book, our arguments are boring. We can more quickly get to each other's feelings and understand how we each see problems. If you're looking for a good read, check it out - it has the double Recker spouse seal of approval.

I'm still coming up with some resolutions for next year. I'll have them for you tomorrow - that seems appropriate for new year's eve.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great night, everybody.