Tag: little man

Inherited Traits: Or, What I Have Passed on to the Little Man and Little Miss

When you have kids, you kind of expect there are certain things they will inherit: eye color, hair thickness (or thinness), etc. These are all physical characteristics, and our kids have a good mixture from both of us. But I’ve noticed more and more non-physical things that they have inherited from me.

The Little Man has inherited my ear for lyrics and music. He remembers all of the songs I sing, and I sometimes find him singing them to himself. I’m not talking about children’s lullabies, either. I’m talking things like R.E.M.’s “Superman” or Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong’s “Gone Fishin'”.

The Little Miss has inherited another of these traits. I have this strange ability to quote from any episode of M*A*S*H, and do so frequently when in the company of willing conspirators, much to Kelly’s chagrin. Sometimes, when an episode of M*A*S*H is on TV, I’ll often say the lines just before the actors, which I know can be very annoying–but I just can’t help myself. The Little Miss seems to have inherited a version of this peculiar talent. Except, instead of M*A*S*H, she quotes lines from Caillou–often immediately before the character says the line. I noticed this for the first time a few nights ago and it was slightly disconcerting. She has done it more than once, since, but I think she does it now because she knows how proud it makes me. She will be a very good TV episode quoter, just like her dad.

When I Need Perspective and Relief from Stress

When I put the kids to bed at night, we listen to about 10 minutes of what they call “rain music.” This is really an album of white-noise tracks of thunderstorms and rain storms. It is very calming, and I often listen to this while writing when there is other noise in the background. The Little Miss does not want to sleep in her room at the moment, so she, the Little Man and I go into the Little Man’s room. He climbs into his bed and I tuck him in.

The Little Miss then points to the beanbag chair on the floor next the Little Man’s bed and said, quite firmly, “You sit, daddy!”

I drop into the beanbag chair and she crawls in beside me with her entourage of stuffed animals and baby dolls. We turn off the lights, I turn on the rain music, and the three of us lay there in the darkness, listening to the sound of rain and the occasional gentle rumble of thunder.

Sometime, the Little Man wants to hold my hand while we do this. So there I am with both of my kids, holding the Little Man’s hand and with the Little Miss nestled in the crook of my left shoulder and it is just wonderful. I’m not sure there is anything that acts as quickly as a stress reliever than laying there for 10 minutes with the kids falling asleep around me.

The Little Man’s Little City

I was in my office doing some work. Kelly and the Little Miss were at the grocery store. The Little Man wanted to go downstairs. He would have preferred if someone had gone down with him, but he was okay with me just turning on the lights and putting on the TV for him.

I went back up to my office and worked. I noticed that it was pretty quiet down in the office and that sometimes makes me nervous. But I figured I’d leave the Little Man alone. Eventually, he came up to tell me to come look at his city. Turns out, he’d been so quiet because he was focusing intently on building a rather elaborate city.

Little City

It reminded me of a time when I was not much older than the Little Man, when I decided to build a wall around our family room. I used my building blocks and it seems to me I was able to build a wall pretty much all the way around the room (my memory might be playing tricks with me). Of course, the wall was only about 3 inches tall.

The Little Man’s First Knock-Knock Joke

Last night, while putting the Little Man to bed, I decided to teach him his first Knock-Knock joke. It was such an epic failure that all I can do is attempt to reproduce the transcript of what happened. I felt like I was in a Laurel and Hardy skit, only it was no skit. It was this:

Me: Okay, now let me tell you a joke. It’s called a knock-knock joke and you have to say some things.

Little Man: Okay, Daddy.

Me: I say “Knock-knock” and then you say, “Who’s there?” okay.

LM: (Nods).

Me: Knock-knock.

LM: (Looks at me, slightly confused.)

Me: Now you say, “Who’s there?”

LM: (Still looking confused.)

Me: Knock-knock.

LM: (Staring at me)

Me: (Sotto voce): Who’s there? You say “Who’s there?””

LM: Mommy?

Me: Huh?

LM: Mommy?

Me: No, you say “Who’s there?”

LM: Mommy?

Me: No, you just repeat what I am saying. Who’s there?

LM: (With sudden realization in his eyes): Who’s there, Mommy?

Me: No, buddy, you don’t tell me who’s there. You say who’s there. Wait. No. All you have to do is say “Who’s there” after I say knock-knock, okay?

Me: Knock-knock.

LM: Mommy!

Me: No, Mommy is sleeping. You don’t say Mommy, you say who’s there? Okay. Knock-knock.

LM: Daddy?

Me: Why are you saying Daddy?

LM: Because you’re there. (Pointing).

Me: It’s not who is really there, buddy. It’s just part of a joke. I say knock-knock and you say who’s there.

Me: (Deep breath. Truthfully, I am no longer interested in the joke and just want to go back to my room.)

Me: Knock-knock.

LM: Who’s there?

Me: Oh! Yes! Very good, buddy! Very good. Oh crap. Um, “Little Man!”

LM: What?

Me: No that’s part of the joke. I say knock-knock, then you say Who’s There, and then I say Little Man.

LM: I’m tired.

Me: Knock-knock.

LM: Little Man!

Me: Eh-huh? No, you say “Who’s there.”

LM: Daddy!

There was more, I think, but I blacked out at that point. The next thing I knew Kelly was wiping my face with a damp cloth.

And overnight, my ability to tell knock-knock jokes completely withered away.

“Everything’s Normal Again…”

Last night when I put the Little Man to bed, he asked for an extra hug. While his arms were wrapped around my neck he said, “Daddy, I’m glad everything’s back to normal again, now that you are back from your trip.”


It’s not like things deviated far from normal. Kelly worked like a champion while I was at Launch Pad, maintaining as much normality as could possibly be managed.

But it was still nice to hear the Little Man say that. I think what he meant by it was, “Daddy, I’m glad you are home.” So am I.

Mirrors in the Barber Shop

The Little Man needed a haircut, badly. I’d intended to get him one last week and things got busy and I got too tired. As it happens, I needed a haircut, too, so this morning, both the Little Man and I went and got one. The Little Man has had many haircuts and is beyond being afraid when go to the barber. Usually I will get my hair cut first while he watches, and then he’ll get his hair cut. Today, however, we got our hair cuts at the same time. And it led to a wonderful little bonding moment.

I sat on one side and he on the other. We could see one another reflected in the mirrors and as the stylists clipped away at our hair, we leered into the mirrors, making faces at one another, sticking our tongues out at one another, laughing, and having an absolute blast. I imagine the Little Man thought it was funny at the time and has already forgotten about it, even though not three hours have passed.

But I really thought it was special, a kind of bonding, sharing a joke that was magnified by being bounced around in the mirrors, making it that much bigger. I really just expected to run an errand this morning. It turned out to be a whole lot more.


The Little Man’s Comments on Yesterday’s Stephen King Interview on NPR

Yesterday evening, while Kelly was working out, the kids were playing and I was in my office listening to a new interview with Stephen King on NPR. I enjoy King’s interviews immensely and this one was no different. But while I was listening, the Little Man kept coming in, interrupting and needing all kinds of attention.

Finally, I said, “Hey buddy, I’m listening to this interview.”

The Little Man frowned. He seemed to search for the right words for a moment, and then said, “But Daddy, this interview makes my ears nervous.”

Well, it was a Stephen King interview.

The Little Man’s Little Thumb

A few weeks ago, the Little Man injured his right thumb. It was by no means a serious injury, just one of those things that happens when 4-year-olds play. He didn’t even cry. We noticed that he couldn’t straighten out his thumb afterward. We visited the urgent care, then his pediatrician, who sent him for x-rays. The x-rays came back normal but he was sent to a orthopedist just to be safe. Turns out, he had what’s known as “trigger finger.” The condition probably existed at the time of his injury, and the injury just brought it to light.

This morning, the Little Man had surgery to correct the condition. This required general anesthesia, which is always a little nerve-wracking. But this was the third time that the Little Man has had general anesthesia and the surgery itself took only 15 minutes. We left the house at 6:30 am and were back home by 11 am. The Little Man was brave and smiling throughout and the surgery corrected the condition. In about 9 days–when the cast comes off–he will have full mobility and functionality of his right thumb once again.

Yes, there is kind of a cast. Lots of padding and wrapping and bandages, which almost seems overkill for an incision that was barely a few millimeters. But the Little Man is nearly four and the cast will help ensure proper healing.

Thumb Cast

At the time of this writing, the Little Man is downstairs, happily playing with the Little Miss (and some new toys). He will miss t-ball for two weeks, but he was going to miss a week anyway as we are taking a road trip on Memorial Day weekend. He is a little trooper, though.

I always get a little nervous before these things and it is a relief to have this behind us.

A Perspective on Priorities

When I picked up the Little Miss from her daycare today, she had a bloody nose. Not a big deal, just a little bloody nose. She has a wonderful daycare and the caretakers told me what had happened that led to the bloody nose. Perfectly normal stuff.

I brought her home. Kelly and the Little Man were already home. The Little Miss had brought a rose for Kelly for Mother’s Day.

“Happy mommy’s day,” the Little Miss said, running into the house to give the rose to Kelly.

“Oh, thank you!” Kelly said. There was a pause. “What happened to–”

“She got a bloody nose at school,” I said.

The Little Man perked up. At nearly four years old, he is fascinated by blood.

I explained what happened. “When so-and-so’s dad came to pick him up, all of the kids suddenly wanted to play with the same toy, or something. I think they said it was a dinosaur. Anyway, in the commotion, whosits threw the dinosaur and it bobbed the Little Miss squarely in the nose.”

“Aww, my poor little girl!” Kelly said. The Little Miss did not seem bothered by this in the least.

The Little Man seemed to consider the story carefully and then asked what he deemed to be the most significant question.

“What kind of dinosaur was it?”

The Little Man and Zeno’s Paradox of Broccoli Eating

This evening at dinner, the Little Man managed to illustrate a mathematical concept I first learned of in 12th grade pre-calculus: Zeno’s Paradox. The Little Man had broccoli on his plate, which he generally enjoys. He consumed all of the crowns of broccoli, save one. For the last one he decided to do something different.

First, he tore the piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motions, consumed the other half.

Next, he tore the remaining piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motions, consumed the other half.

Again, he tore the remaining piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motion, consumed the other half.

This went and and on and if I tried to capture it all, this would be the longest blog post in the history of blog posts. In fact, it would be an infinitely long blog post because as the piece of broccoli grew smaller by half each time, it was never entirely gone, nor would it be. Expressed mathematically, the limit of the size of broccoli approached, but never actually reached, zero.

And for some reason, I found this completely amusing and worthy of a blog post.

The Little Man and the Time Travel Paradox

I am a fan of time-travel stories1 but there is a paradox about time travel that is rarely addressed in these stories. Sure, the stories tackle all sorts of thorny paradoxes (think Back to the Future), but with rare exception, they avoid the biggest paradox of them all: if someone in the future has invented the ability to travel into the past, why aren’t we seeing time traveler coming from the future?

Well, it may be that They Are Among Us, and it may very well be that my own little boy, the Little Man, is one of them. The Little Man is just a few months shy of four years old and recently, he has been telling us some interesting stories. It started out with vague references, like, “Daddy, when I was big, I used to go to work in a store.” When I first heard him say something like that I questioned it.

“When you were big?” I asked.


“How long ago were you big.”

The Little Man pondered this for a moment and finally settled on a response. “Ummm, four–six months ago.”

He as become more specific lately. For instance, he recently announced, “When I was six, I painted the whole house.”

It seems clear from these discussions that the Little Man actually comes from the future, and furthermore, he lived his life backwards like Benjamin Button–at least until a few months ago when he started aging normally again.

Of course, I try to be encouraging. And indeed the nature of our conversations have changed lately. Instead of sitting around explaining to him all of the different years the Yankees won the World Series. (“Let’s see, the first one during my life was 1977. Then again in 1978. There was a dry spell and then 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and most recently 2009.”) I have started asking him questions. Like: “Will the Yankees win the world series this year? How about in 2015?”

The real question, of course, is: should I trust his answers? (You should hear what he has to say about the 2017 Super Bowl!)

  1. My favorites include Connie Willis; Blackout/All Clear and Doomsday Book; Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line; Jack McDevitt’s Time Traveler Never Die; Audrey Niffennegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife; Robert Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer; and Stephen King’s 11/22/63.