Thursday, February 26, 2009

Emmy the Button Pusher

St Josephs College, a small D3 school with a great basketball program is only about 15 mins drive from our house. I love going there to watch hoops up close, and tonight they hosted the semi-final game of their conference tourney.

We took our usual seats in the front row on the corner where the players come in for their introductions. But tonight there was this supersize student all dressed in Royal Blue who decided to be the designated cheerleader right in front of us. He blocked 2/3 of the court when he stood still - but he jumped around so much he basically blocked the whole court. Emmy and Marin were after me to yell at him, but I held off figuring he was just excited and would sit down as soon as the game began. I was wrong.

I asked him a couple of times to please sit down so we (my whole section) could see the game. He looked at us like we were interrupting his private show. Finally, the kids and I got up and climbed about 5 rows higher so we could see over him. And this is when Emmy got her revenge.

Emmy went down to floor level and started running around the sideline. She had on thick winter pants so she would run and then slide on her knees on the hardwood. She started sliding right into this huge guys feet, then looking up at him with a wide grin and saying "sorry". But she kept doing it and doing it so he couldn't jump for fear of stepping on her. Then the guy started getting mad and looking around for Emmy's parents. I just sat there. Emmy says to him, smiling sweetly the entire time "Why are you so angry? It's just an accident. You don't be mean to me. You are a bully." Then all this guys friends started busting on him "Yeah, dude. Why are you so angry? She's just a little kid trying to enjoy the game too. Don't be a bully"

It was classic Emmy. Only she could get this idiot to finally sit down so the rest of us could watch the game.

Speed Reader

I have to keep reminding myself that Emmy is only four years old.

Last evening we were driving home and we passed a couple of houses with 'for sale' signs on them. Emmy asks me "Daddy, what does real estate mean?"

Are you kidding me???

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Just how devious are you?

Last weekend I was quizzing Emmy about what she liked to do and some things she wanted to buy. I was trying to get ideas about how to entertain her over school vacation week.

Emmy gave me that "I don't trust you for a second" look, stalled, stalled some more, and finally said "Daddy, I don't want to tell you." I'm in disbelief here because I have the most generous intentions. So I asked Emmy why she doesn't want to tell me. She said "You're trying to trick me. You want to know what I like so you can take it away from me as punishment when I'm a bad girl."

Did I mention Emmy recently turned 4 years old? I've got a long life ahead of me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Now who is the minority?

I took the kids snow sledding today and there were a few other families on the hill. As I got closer, I recognized one of the families was a Jamaican family from Marins' school, and the other family was Dominican. I don't know why it never occurred to me before that we have both Jamaican and Dominican families in our school.

After a while Marin looks at me and says "Do you see all the brown skinned people here?" and I said yes. Whereupon she remarked "Daddy, you are the only white skin boy on this whole hill!"

I mean, I lived in Philadelphia for years and I was never the only white boy on the hill. Here I am in rural Maine, in February, participating in a winter sport, and I am the only white boy on the hill. I can't believe it.

Valentines Day

Colleen and I finally enjoyed a real Valentines Day. One of the Aunts took the kids for the evening. We ordered a ton of Thai takeout, like the whole menu, and set out a picnic on the floor in front of the fireplace. Lit a few candles, some music, a few drinks, and just unwound like we haven't in years. We were like, giddy, its' been so long since we had total silence in the house. Man, that was so nice.

So we were reminiscing about Valentines Day 2007, which was about 4 days after we arrived home with the girls. Colleen and my sister in law had spent the entire day fighting the girls tantrums, and trying to collect stool samples for the kids' Doc visit. When I arrived home around 5:30, I fought the tantrums for a few hours to give COlleen a break, then finally we got the kids to sleep. At that point Ellen said "Well that was certainly a memorable Valentines Day." Colleen looked at me and started crying. We were so strung out with the kids that neither of us even knew it was Valentines Day.

So, for all you recent arrivals, we know its' crazy for you right now, maybe even torture right now. But in two years it will be all better. Hang in there.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How do you answer these questions?

Emmy and I were driving to her gymnastics class and, out of the clear blue sky, Emmy asks me why the name on Marins adoption and transit papers say 'Marin LDT.

First, Emmy's only 4 years old, so how the heck does she know that? And second, what is spinning in her brain that she would ask such a question?

So I explained to Emmy about flying on the airplane from Africa to America, the people on the airplane want to know who Marin's daddy is. We decided to call Marin "Marin LDT" so all the airplane people will know.

Then Emmy asks "Why not the name of my real Daddy, ASFL? Why not say Marin ASFLand Emmy ASFL?" The kid has a ridiculous memory. She was only about a year old when her father died. Emmy remembers her Mothers' name, too, and she never even knew her Mother who died when Emmy was a newborn.

Anyway, so I had to go back to the beginning. I asked Emmy if she remembers that ASFL and KD died. She said yes, then she asked why they died. I told her that Africa does not have enough doctors and not enough medicine, so if someone gets sick in Africa they might die because they have no medicine. Emmy got totally somber and said "That's really not fair Daddy. Africa people need doctors and medicine, too, you know. And food, Daddy. Africa people are always too hungry. Only eat food one time a day. That's not fair."

Holy cow. I can't believe the stuff she comes out with. I can't believe how well developed her sense of injustice is. Emmy was only two years old when we adopted her. For American kids that age injustice means they had to drink apple juice instead of soda.

Hey, Goombah!

The other night I was teasing Emmy about something. Finally, she got fed up, whipped her head around to face me, stuck a finger in my chest and said "Daddy, you stop it right now! Capish?"

I said "What? Capish? Where did you learn that word?"

(For those of you who do not know, capish is Italian for "Understand?" and something that my Grandmother, Grandfather, and Father often said when I was growing up)

Emmy got that smirky look on her face like "Oh, now whose in the drivers' seat?" I asked her several times to tell me where she learned capish and she just sat there grinning.

Finally, Marin, apparently annoyed with both of us exclaims "Daddy! Capish! Do you understand me? Now be quiet!"

For crying out loud, both of my kids know Capish and I have no idea where they learned it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This week is the second anniversary of our going to Addis to get the girls. I asked Marin if she remembered meeting us for the first time. She smiled and said "Yes. I remember that." So I asked her to tell me about it.

Marin said "I thought Mama was beautiful."


"Because she has yellow hair. No Mamas in Africa have yellow hair. Mama looks like an Angel to me."

"What about Daddy?"

"I wasn't sure who was my Daddy"

"Marin, you didn't know it was me?"

"No, it might be that guy with all the hair on his face." (we brought my cousin Pete, who had a beard at the time, and Marin was not sure which guy was Dad)

"So, Marin, what did you and Lidet and Abaynesh say about us after we left?"

"We thought it was so weird. Which one is the Daddy? We don't know! We just laughed and laughed and laughed. Then someone said Marin has two Daddies. Marin has two Daddies. And they make a big joke about it."

It just cracks me up to think here are these two poor little kids, half starved, about to be moved half way around the world, and they're making jokes in their bunk room about having two Daddies. Kids are pretty resilient.

Gambling Addiction

Last Sunday was the super bowl, and I took the girls to a party at my cousins house so they could play with all their little cousins. Naturally, there was some low stakes gambling, and I wagered five bucks.

Emmy observed the transaction with grave concern, and pulled me aside to question the wisdom of my actions.

"Daddy, why you give him our money?"
" How we gonna buy food?"
"Daddy. No money to go skating? We can't skate again?"
"Daddy, what about college? Need money for college?"

Well, the good news is, Emmy seems to be paying attention to my frugal lessons.

So we enjoy the party, etc. and fast forward to the car ride home. I asked the girls if they had a good time.

Marin - an enthusiastic YES!!! When can we do it again??
Emmy - "Daddy, did that boy give you our money back?"

Here is where I should have lied and told her yes, but I thought it would be good to teach her that gambling usually involves losing money and you really should never do it. Big mistake.

Emmy came right unglued, sobbing and thrashing and wailing with pitiable grief. "Daddy. I can't believe it. Now we have no money to buy food. We're gonna be too hungry. Mama's gonna be so sad." and on and on and on. Emmy is so dramatic, she made me feel terribly guilty and almost had me crying.

As I watched this whole episode unfold, it occurred to me I should have taped this as a public service message for gamblers anonymous. It was way more effective than anything else I have seen on the topic.