Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bear Moments

Every night before we put Claire to sleep we do the following: I lie on the bed, Claire picks out a book, slams it dangerously down on my stomach, then, while I'm still reeling, jumps up onto and over me, kneeing me in the stomach or groin, before laying down on my left side, where she complains that she doesn't have enough pillow. Then Kirsten slides onto my right side and I read both of them a story. Usually Claire stops me with bizarre non sequiturs or to demand that she be allowed to say the lines of the female characters, and I stop her from time to time to tell her to stop walking her feet up the wall and quit chewing her hair. Then, around the last few words of the story, Claire springs up and makes mischievous eye contact with Kirsten before they descend on me and tickle the dickens out of me. I fight back the best I can, usually too hard, bruising Kirsten in the process, and then jump off the bed and get the hell out of there.

That's the routine.


Last night, we were reading Curious George and Claire pointed at an exclamation mark that was part of some of the artwork and said: "Look, an Eskimo point!"

I said, "Yeah, an exclamation mark."

She said: "Yeah, an Eskimotion mark."


On Father's Day I suppose I had the right to take a day off from any major projects, but for some reason I decided it was a good time to give the cats their summer hair cuts. Shaving cats in the summer was a tradition in my house growing up. The cats freak the fuck out when you're doing the shaving, but afterward they snuggle you for days because they feel great. And it cuts way down on loose hair in the house.

I get a little better at this every year. I learned to clip their nails beforehand, and during the reign of Keith, I started padding myself with sweatshirts to cut down on the amount of blood he could draw from me. This year we threw tranquilizers into the mix, with leftovers Kirsten had gotten from the vet to knock Lucy and Tobias out on the long trip from Chicago to Detroit.

Still, even using tranqs, it's a hot, stressful job that involves locking myself in a stifling bathroom with an annoyed feline while I chase it around with an electric pair of clippers like an idiot and cat hair flies around the room like feathers in a pillow fight.

When I emerged from the bathroom Sunday night, covered in sweat and cat hair, there was a folded piece of paper taped to the door. It was a hand-made Father's Day card from Claire to me. Claire had instructed Kirsten to dictate her exact words: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY. HOPE YOU HAD A GOOD DAY. LOVE CLAIRE.

To be honest, I was touched, but feeling a little mental from my marathon shearing session, and didn't totally process the card. I thanked her and hugged her though and told her I loved it. She must have sensed my absentmindedness and so asked Kirsten which side of the bed I slept on. Kirsten told her and she taped the card on the wall above my pillow, where it still is. Later, after Claire was asleep, the piles of cat hair had been cleaned up and I was calmer and cooler, I reread Claire's card when climbing into bed. Besides the note, I took a closer look at the picture, which was in yellow marker (she knows yellow is my favorite color). It was a picture of a car. And then my stomach sank and I recalled the following conversation from an hour earlier:

I was rifling through the drawers in Claire's room, looking for something, and she was kneeling on the floor drawing.

Claire: Dad, do you like cars?

Me: No, not really.

Claire: Really, you don't like cars?

Me: Um. I mean, not really. I know. Most boys do. I guess I'm just different.

Claire: Really?

Me: Well, I don't know. I guess maybe a little.

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

The latter situation helped me out last night when she asked me what my favorite colors were and then gave me a picture of me wearing red pants. I was ready...