Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Becoming a familiar

"Help me Connor!" the little girl called to me. At that point, I knew I had officially been adopted. Connor. It has a nice ring to it. Rolls off the tongue better than Curtis, especially if you're 2 and a half years old.

The girl, Scout, is the daughter of a woman who may or may not be my girlfriend. We're at that awkward stage in new relationships where things either blow up or settle down, and the goodbyes stop being a mishmash of half hugs, quick pats on the back, and accidental headbutts and start being kisses and worried reflection... was that too much? Not enough? Scout was the girl who was shy around me last post, and yesterday evening started out looking like more of the same.

We planned to go out to Magic Mountain, a great place for tots to jump and climb, and bang buttons on various video games. When everyone arrived at my house and we were loading Scout up to the car for the trip, she still eyeballed me suspiciously and looked worried, but settled down during the ride, no doubt noticing mom and I getting along and chatting cheerfully. When we got to Magic Mountain, Scout is taking mom's hand while walking in, and subtly throws her other hand up for me to hold. Naturally, I take it. And smile ear to ear.

The play area has a giant truck with climbing tubes for the smaller kids to play in, which is less daunting than the two and a half storey nest of tubes and tunnels that the elementary school kids play in. Scout eagerly climbed in and explored, and eventually got lost and upset, and called to mommy for help. Mom peeks in one of the windows reassuringly, and gives Scout a hint of which way to go, and she figured out how everything was laid out, and was fine. With her new knowledge of the truck's topography, and wielding the adult summoning spell in her collection of scrolls, she decided to get "lost" again, and to summon me for help instead of mommy.

"Help me Connor!" I am 6'4" and not very flexible for purposes like fitting into toddlers' climbing toys, but I somehow managed to snake my way through a few twists and turns to find little Scout, who smiled at me as I helped lower her down one platform, whereupon she quickly made her escape from the bigtoy deathtrap. A few minutes later, as I finally wrenched and scooted myself back out the way I came in -- why is that always the hard part? -- we decided to go on to bigger and better things, like Ski-ball and dinner at Arby's. Somewhere during all that, Scout decided it was OK for me to pick her up and carry her, and she gave me the biggest complement a toddler can, by resting her head against my shoulder contentedly as I carried her back in the house.

So I'm adopted now, one of her familiars. Life is good. Thanks, little princess.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Training, the kid keeps growing, and romance revisited

So, here I am in a C# training class for the week, which I'm assuming based on the first couple of hours is going to be a miserable week, reminding me of all the things in the IT world that are upsetting. To enumerate, the sign on the door "Introduction to C+", the personal ramblings ("I think x will be the future of programming"), the experimenting with nonstandard classroom computer configurations, dirty keyboards, the table and chairs out of sync heightwise, and nothing yet that approaches any programming meat. The good news is the unfiltered Internet connection, hence this post, which I couldn't do from my office since about a year ago when "blog" was became a filtered keyword.

What's new? My kid is awesome, which isn't new, but she's continuing to be awesome in Middle School, making friends, being more challenged in some classes than she's used to, like the advanced 6th grade math class, all the while tackling a full schedule of dance, soccer, and music. We've butted heads on a few issues in the natural progression of her asserting her independence. My angst for that whole deal is out of proportion to the problem because of one simple fact: I've been a natural at fatherhood up until now.

After I last got angry with her, I chilled myself out and sat down with her and had a conversation that went something like this: Stacey, you've always had a natural gift for numbers. You've been at the top of your math class since you started school, been bragged on by your teachers, and been put in the gifted program at school. This year, you are put in with other kids who were at the tops of their classes, and the work is harder, and it doesn't come easy for you any more. You have to work at it, practice, and be patient while you get your head around new concepts that don't just automatically jump off the page at you as obvious. It's the same with me, now, with being a dad. I used to always know what to do, and it was easy, and I was never worried that I was doing the wrong thing, never frustrated, and always got along with you famously. Now you're growing up, and it's harder. You're running into life problems I struggled with when I was kid, and how to help you and balance being a parent and being an empathetic friend is harder. I'll have to work at it, and struggle to not be frustrated. And I love you just as much as I always did, and we'll figure all this crap out.

Or something like that. I doubt I was that eloquent, but the message was the same.

In other news, I met this woman. I like her. She has a cool kid who is almost 3, and although is unafraid of my wild Husky, the kid is completely terrified of me, the new guy. Between that and the recent struggles with Stacey, I feel as though I've completely lost my kid mojo. I found out later that the kid actually liked me, and liked the rice krispie treats I made for her, and liked playing in Stacey's playroom, and watching Cinderalla, but was a little concerned that mom intended to leave her there for me to babysit.

It looks like the woman and I might start seeing each other regularly, and I'm running the gauntlet of emotions again, the ones I thought I had conquered years ago. I've still got love, passion, fear, impatience, confidence, and cowardice all jumping around in me, just like I was a kid again. It's fantastic!

Two thumbs up for:
Shoot 'Em Up
Resident Evil 3
and The Truman Show, which I somehow managed to avoid seeing for 9 years.