I Still Loved Him, and His Breath was Atrocious and Smelled of Elderly Potatoes and Other Vomit

At 2 a.m. Friday morning, Johannes began calling us loudly from his sister's bed. Poor little boy had emptied the contents of his stomach, via more than one exit, and was miserable.

Note: although throwing up on someone's bed is not ideal, a bed is easier to clean up than a swimming pool.

I always appreciated, growing up, how my parents rarely seemed irritated at their children's various ailments and illnesses. My dad has this heart like a giant moon that gets extra-bright when people get sick, and there are few people kinder to be around when you need some TLC and fistful of peanut M&Ms.

When I got done screaming at Johannes for throwing up, we cleaned and scrubbed him down. I hugged him tight, and almost wretched from the odor. Then he threw up again.

It was a long night.

Later, we woke up, and I still loved him, and his breath was atrocious and smelled of elderly potatoes and other vomit. 

We did celebrate Christmas this year, but Micael & Leanna decided to violate the treaty and continue giving our children presents. Below, you will notice that Johannes is simultaneously modeling both pairs of new underwear he received, as well as the non-prescription shades.

I will use Micael for a short rant real quick. This is my controversial opening statement:

Children often do not usually know what they want, probably.

(I tried to leave myself a little wiggle room with the statement in case I am directly confronted)
One of the charming characteristics of children is that they frequently state what they want in the moment without fear of embarassment, ridicule, or censure. They want a cookie, so they ask for a cookie. They want a toy, so they take a toy. But it is a constantly revolving series of wants that they have. They are usually not absolute: they are absolute in their mind until a better option comes along.

If we give our children a bowl of broccoli, they will enjoy that bowl of broccoli, because they like broccoli.

If we give our children a choice between a bowl of broccoli and a plate of cookies, they will choose the cookies, and become upset if we then take the cookies away and demand they eat the broccoli, because the choice has moved from being about A) eating something to B) choosing between what they would prefer to eat more. And there is no going back once the plate of cookies is an option.

I know some adults who hold to a faux-rigorous code of conduct with children: 

Oh, if the kids want me to play with them, they'll let me know.

And variations of that; the idea that you want to be uber-respectful and not push them to do anything they might not want to do; that they'll let you know when they want or need something.

Respect is a fundamental concept in our family. It's a biggie. But respecting children does not mean A) granting every wish, B) caving to every demand or want, or C) waiting for them to tell you exactly what it is they want.

Kids like to play. So, if you're an adult, you can either A) ask if it's okay to play with them, or B) just start playing with them. Join in with whatever it is they're doing.

So: the delicate balance between letting them have their space and between joining in, at their level, and simply becoming part of their world.

Shortly after snapping the below photograph, I watched Micael snatch my daughter off her feet as she walked by, and she smiled big and struggled mightily in the air.

She did not ask to be grabbed. She did not grant permission to be pulled mid-stride and hoisted in the air. But Micael, in an intuition based on (probably) both gut instinct and experience from interacting with her, knew it would be okay. He pulled her in the air, her feet flailing and laughing and fighting to break free...and that magic moment arrived where Fun is at its apex and Frustration will begin shortly...and that is the point to stop. So he let her writhe free and scamper off; her feeling brave and bold over having "broke free on all by myself."

A tiny moment, but indicative of how Becca and I have appreciated his treatment of our children: respectful, not fighting for their attention or dueling for affection, but quietly stepping in and recognizing when are the right moments to crash into their world. 

Kids may not always know what they want, but they know when they are truly being respected. And sometimes, Respect means snatching somebody out of the air.

Micael has been an ever-growing enjoyable and popular part of our lives. Someday, perhaps Johannes will be big enough to snatch him out of the air as he passes. Or at least big enough to shove him in the swimming pool.

One Note on Wrestling:
Magdelana, at five years old, can clothesline me like Lawrence Taylor. I am convinced that our next Emergency Room trip will be for me, dripping blood and broken bones after getting assaulted by our flying baboon of a daughter and her aggressive strategies in trying to take me down. That is the preface to what I say next:

We were wrestling earlier this weekend, and after taking a few elbows to the head and being violently air-tackled from the headboard of her bed, I finally decided that it was my turn to win, so I pinned her down and contorted my Gosling-esque jawline into my best monster face. Raaawwwrrrr! My eyes bulged out and I was so scary I was scaring myself.

She shook her head: Daddy! You have to be gentle with little children! You have to be gentle with us!

I have never rolled my eyes as big as I did following her statement.

Daddy! It's true!

Of course, Magdelana. Of course.

One More Note on Wrestling:
I decided last night to rent Brave, the 2012 Pixar film about a brave young princess who defies conventions and uses her wits and archery skills to undo an evil curse. 

(Always interested in cinematic portrayals of brave young heroines defying conventions and refusing to wait for rescue :)

There's a scene at the beginning where the young girl, Merida is running around and her mom starts chasing her, pretending to be a wild bear, and finally catches her, Raaawwwrr!, tackling and wrestling her daughter, laughing and fighting.

Wouldn't it be cool if you had a Mom like that? I said, grin in my heart.

Daddy! The chastisement began again. We DO HAVE A MAMA LIKE THAT! Our Mama does that with us...doesn't she, Johanni!

Oh, that's right, I said. I suppose she does.

She does, and she is fierce. But I am still a much better wrestler than her...but we'll keep that between us, okay? Thanks.

The Wind Was Loud, But Our Hearts Remained Brave

Grumpy Muppets
Saturday night, we had planned to go to a party event thing, but Johannes was still a bit ill-feeling and -tempered, and we didn't want to infect other wee ones, so Becca took Mags to the event, and I brought a very grumpy boy home. 

I want my Mommy! I want my Sissie! Over and over, in most pathetic fashion.

Upshot was that I got an evening with just my boy, and eventually he snuggled in and we ate a package of Saltines and decided to watch Happy Feet.  I went to turn the telly on just as he was picking up the remote, and he made an erroneous cause-and-effect assumption, convinced that he had just mastered the art of Remote Controlling the Television. His immediate enthusiasm was too great to squash, so I let him live the delusion.

I turned the television on all by myself! I'm going to tell my Mommy and my Sissie!

I was really getting into the dancing penguin flick, but Johannes lost interest. 

I want to watch Muppets. he said.

Tried to dissuade him, and when he continued to express dissatisfaction with Happy Feet, I tried to convince him of how great Ratatouille would be. Nope.

I want to watch Muppets.

Not just any Muppets. The Muppet Movie from 1979. We have enjoyed it more than once...and I really didn't feel like watching it again. But he did, badly.

So we did. Snuggled and Saltine-d and carrying on running commentary about each and every scene. The Muppets Movie has a wink-wink meta structure that makes its self-aware, '70s grooving plot enjoyable for big people too (especially the ones who haven't already seen it half a dozen times :) The darkly-saturated scenes and smart mix of banter and old-school action give it a feel that is rooted in the 70s, yet feels prescient and timeless now.

And there's at least one two-year old these days who loves it.

Finally bedtime came and I said OK we're turning it off now and he got very mad at me for the 70th time that afternoon, but then we snuggled some more and I sang the melancholy & hopeful Tomorrow from Annie a dozen times and he snozzled off to slumber.

Breakfast & Book: King Arthur's Very Great Grandson

Hey, That's One Way to Say Goodbye Before Leaving on a Jet Plane (With a Shotgun Blast of Conversation About the Comparative Badness & Fighting Ability of Vikings to Darth Vader).

Sadly, California claimed Jeremy again, and he left cozy wet Portland for sweet little Hollywood. The aroma of his music hangs in the Oregon air like rhododendrons.


One of my goals the last ten years is to start being on time and stop returning things late, like the Redbox DVDs I rented (see above).

Slight Tangent:
Finally watched The Amazing Spider-Man last night; I assured Becca she needed to know nothing about Spidey because this was a reboot of the franchise. What we call an origin film, which then led to a short description of what an origin film is.

I had heard many positive things, so my expectations were medium-high, and were met pleasantly met. Instead of Tobey Maguire's nerdy depiction of Peter Parker, we have Andrew Garfield's geeky brawn; Emma Stone as the love interest is captivating, but underdeveloped. The swinging action scenes are not evolutionarily better than what (previous director) Sam Raimi created with vertigo-inducing energy, but they're a fresh, more point-of-view style approach that fits well with Garfield's more athletic presence. Rhys Ifans as the villain falls a bit flat in an attempt to go in a more nuanced, grayish shade of nemesis, but he just doesn't have the manic charisma of a Willem Dafoe or Heath Ledger. Denis Leary and Martin Sheen are excellent additions in supporting roles. Becca stayed awake for bits and pieces of it, so she at least some vague idea of what was happening. It was good. Dug it. The End.
End of Tangent.

It's Never Too Late in the Day to Shop in Style.

So my assistants came with me to return the films, and they were full of verve. I invented a story involving Darth Vader, Olaf the Viking, Amelia Earhardt, and Sir Robert Bruce on the drive down, and perhaps I will share it with you here one of these days soon...

So, it was another normal weekend, and I hope the week ahead is normal too, minus the vomiting. 

Happy week ahead, all!


all photographs ©2013 Joseph Ivan Long


  1. Fantastic! A day in the life... it's always entertaining.

  2. Thanks Meilani! Glad you were a part of it :)

  3. Thanks again, Joseph. I feel like I was there. Oh, I guess I was, for a too-small part of it! Loved every minute. Love the telling. xoxo


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