Monday, March 1 2021

rodney's calendar, marissa's birthday, and the volcano



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody? Were you ready for the turn of a new month? I don't think I was. This past February was brief and jarring, like getting pelted in the face with one of Rodney's meatballs.

If you ask me, it's better that way. From where I'm sitting, these months are garbage time - especially while we're all just stuck at home waiting for everyone in front of us to get their vaccines. I read this weekend that Johnson & Johnson made a splash with their own vaccine. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, this one is just a single shot, which I read will greatly simplify the distribution. That's great news - now start pumping it out so we can get on with our lives!

I tried to get Rodney excited about turning the page on a calendar. Every night when I tuck him into bed, I pluck his paw patrol calendar off the wall and bring it to him with a sharpie. I let Rodney draw a big X on today's date (as well as any of the days we missed). Rodney draws the X's on the calendar sideways, like a cross.

"Look dada," he said. "This is not an X. It's a Jesus letter. The angels are going to help him come down to Earth and put him in my heart." On one hand, it's very sweet that Rodney is more interested in talking about Jesus, but he's playing it a little fast and loose with the theology.

So I brought the calendar over to Rodney's bed side. "Check it out, dude," I said, setting up my lead-in question. "How many days are in February?"

"Let's count them," said Rodney. Using his index finger, he began to slowly count out each square on the calendar. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven." And so on.

"Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, se-pen-teen," he skipped sixteen, but continued to push through his clerical error, counting the blocks. He turned the corner to the final row.

"Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine." Accounting for his off-by-one error in the teens, he reached the final twenty-eighth square with twenty-nine. He kept counting the empty squares.

"Twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, twenty-twelve, twenty-thirteen." He looked up at me and repeated his final total. "Twenty-thirteen." I was so amused by the counting train-wreck that unfolded before me, I forgot my original point.

"Good job, dude," I said. "Twenty-thirteen days done, now we can go onto March."

"MARCH!" Rodney repeated emphatically. He was pumping his arms and moving his knees in place, as if to march.

I told the story to Marissa later. "That kid can never remember sixteen," she laughed. "He's just got it ingrained in his head - twelve, thirteen, fourteen..."

"FIFTEEN-SEPENTEEN," we said in unison.

On the subject of passing time, Marissa reminded me that her birthday was only a month away. She sadly remarked that it would be her second quarantine birthday.

"Do you want to go fly a kite again?" I asked.

Marissa cracked a smile, remembering the great kite flying disaster of last year. "I was a eight months pregnant. It was cold and windy. I gave up on flying the kite and went back to the car with Rodney," she recounted. "And you wanted to keep trying, so Rodney and I just watched you run around in the field with the kite dragging behind you on the ground - and then it started snowing."

"And then we went home and celebrated with an old, dried out red velvet cake from Hy-Vee," I added.

Sip. Happy Monday everyone. How was your weekend? We had a great time yesterday. We went for a long walk around the block as a family. The walk felt great while we were still down wind, but after turning the corner at the end of the street and feeling how cold it really was, we were inspired to hustle back. Rodney puttered in front while I pushed Miles' stroller. Rodney kept getting distracted by the sites and sounds of our neighborhood. He'd slow to a shuffle, and I'd accidentally ram his feet with Miles' stroller.

"You gotta walk, dude," I said, irritated. Re-telling it here, I sound sort of cruel. Why would I scold Rodney so harshly on a simple family walk? My defense is a simple you had to be there. Kids are terrible at walking, and it's one of the most infuriating things about parenting. They zig-zag, speed up, slow down, jump into puddles, trip over you, and trip over themselves. They make it impossible to carry on a thoughtful conversation. Whenever Rodney does start school, I hope one of the first lessons they impart to Rodney is how to walk like a proper bipedal human being.

After we returned from our chilly walk, we turned our attention to Rodney's volcano. We chose today as eruption day (because why not?). Mine and Marissa's secret motivation was just getting the big mass of cardboard and paper out of our cramped living room.

Rodney and I loaded the volcano with a half box of baking soda. We spiked an entire jug of plain vinegar with red food coloring. We set up the contraption outside on the sidewalk.

2021 03 01 volcano 1

"Count us down, dude," I said. Rodney counted backwards from five. I dumped in the entire jug of vinegar. The volcano hissed, sputtered, and a disappointing dribble of pink foam leaked out of the spout.

2021 03 01 volcano 2

"There it is," I said. "Maybe next time we don't stuff it with toys."

Rodney was even more excited about finally retrieving his rubber jacks that he had stuffed into the volcano. We extracted the plastic bottle and recovered them with a scissors over the sink.

2021 03 01 volcano 3

We high-fived, both of our hands stained red with food coloring. I was happy that Rodney wasn't the least bit disappointed with the eruption. To him it was the coolest thing in the world.

Before I go, this week's chump of the week goes to the entire Detroit Red Wings. After losing to them on Saturday in an unfortunate trap game, we hoped that our Blackhawks would rally and get them on Sunday.

"I don't just want them to win," I said. "I want it to be embarrassing."

Indeed, it was embarrassing. The Hawks scored seven goals on the wings, down to the final minutes of the game. Patrick Kane even scored his 400th career goal. The wings' goaltender was so upset about it that he snapped his goalie stick over the crossbar.

Detroit, go home you chumps. Everyone else, have a great week.