Hiding Out From Child Protective Services

she looks fine to me

Posted by Jesse

I can’t believe this happened again.

I offer to drive the morning shift all the time (by “offer” I mean I stumble into the kitchen two minutes before departure time, sparsely dressed, one eye open, and grunt “need me to drive? no? cool.”) but Danny handles it almost every day. He says he enjoys the time in the car with the girls and I enjoy the extra sleep enough to believe him.

But once every two weeks or so Danny has an early meeting, and I get the morning shift.

Late in the spring we had one such morning. The girls were eating cereal and I was making lunches, when Michelle begin mixing tears with her milk. It should be noted that encountering her melancholy countenance in the a.m. is NOT a rare occurrence. It can be triggered by a frustrating bout with hair, a missing button on a skirt, or not getting the prize in the cereal box. Or, apparently, an upset stomach.

“I don’t feeeeeel gooooood,” she sobbed.

Uh-oh. Two things come into play here:

1) The Tanner family (Danny’s parents) and the Katsopolis family (my parents) handled sick days very differently. He likes to claim we weren’t allowed to miss school if we revealed a severed appendage dangling loosely off of our bodies. I like to tease that he was basically home-schooled since “sick days” meant any day he had gym. Both are exaggerations. Slight exaggerations.

2) I am not about to be the sucker Uncle who gets played! And, to be totally honest, I hate having to bother Danny when I’ve got “kid duty” because he won’t ask for help unless he really needs it, meaning he’s either got an important meeting or he’s taking his quarterly night out to socialize. I try to avoid contacting him if at all possible. His over-caring self would literally feel guilty that one of his girls got sick on a morning he wasn’t there.

So I did the thermometer thing. Normal enough. I inspected for unusually pale (or green) skin complexion. Other than her claim of not feeling good, I couldn’t see any obvious sign of illness. I worked at Camp Sea Gull for over a decade, and the nurses have told me repeatedly that a stomach ache with no other symptoms is usually just something else. Michelle probably forgot to do her homework and was dreading facing the teacher.

I cracked a few jokes, got a smile or two out of her, got the other two girls in on the “buck up, kid, you’ll be fine by lunch” routine, and we were off.

She threw up on her desk around 9:30 a.m.

If there were a place you could go to voluntarily be lashed with a whip, I’d have signed up in hopes of relieving my guilt.

Fast forward to last week. I’m on morning duty again, and again we have morning tears. This day Michelle is going on a field trip, so she’s picking out an outfit rather than wearing her usual uniform–a source of much consternation, since she has to choose between shorter-legged jeans (tapered? capri’ed? cuffed? what do you call those things?) that leave her a bit chilly or the longer jeans that will almost certainly get a bit wet. I know where this choice will go–Michelle HATES wet jeans. But she’s not happy being chilly either.

“I don’t feel good,” she let it be known. But–Stephanie can attest–there was no force behind this statement. No insistence. I was sure it was all about the jeans. I didn’t even take her temperature.

Her teachers did. She had a fever of 102. Though, I’d like to point out, that was a reading taken after being outside and doing some creek stomping, so I think when I am on trial my lawyer will be able to make a good case that you cannot prove she was actually sick when I dropped her off.

Regardless….don’t tell Michelle, but next time I’m driving the morning shift? She’s got a four-word “get out of school free” card if she’s smart enough to play it. Blame Danny–he’s the fool who leaves me in charge of these girls.

 

The Jungle That Is Stephanie’s Bedroom

Posted by Jesse

Most of the times I’m flying solo with the girls, I pride myself on being fairly entertaining. Not tonight. I was a tad weary from a long day and a late-breaking sports story that had me phone-watching for much of the evening. Working in sports, I hesitate to refer to anything I have to work on as “big” or “important”, but…people do like to talk sports and these people several means to communicate and, well, a lot of people used those means to ask me tonight what the hell happened to Butch Davis. If you have no idea who Butch Davis is, I currently envy you a great deal.

 So when a crisis broke out, I knew I had to spring into action with twice the usual exuberance to make up for my lackluster performance the rest of the night. After going upstairs to change into pajamas right before bedtime, Stephanie returned in tears. This itself was not the crisis, expecially considering earlier in the evening Steph had admitted that fake crying was a skill she traded on. (DJ, who may miss this post because she’s at camp, will be happy to learn this: remember the time you hit Steph with your dance bag and suspected she was embellishing the injury a bit? She was.)

Apparently the source of the tears was an animal on the looose. Not a stuffed animal mind you (though lose track of her stuffed moose and I guarantee you there will be tears, REAL tears, and lots of them), but a real, live animal. The missing creature? You guessed it, one of the vaunted Decapod Crustaceans that came back from Myrtle Beach.

My first move was to assess the tears.

“Are you crying because you’re worried your hermit crab is gone, or are you worried it’s running around your room?”

As suspected, it was most certainly the latter. And in fact, that’s not an unjustified paranoia. As has probably been chronicled on the blog before, Stephanie once had a hamster get out of its cage and bite her on the nose while she slept. Her room is where animals go to party. And bite people. That’s how we ended up with a hamster cage under a blanket behind a couch under lock and key in the unifinished, unvisited part of the basement. Poor Steph.

“I don’t care if my hermit crab is dead I just don’t want it crawling around my room!”

“I don’t see how that thing could have gotten out,” I said, examining the empty shells in the glass cage, doing my best Lenny Brisco impersonation and trying to determine if this nimble crab really could have scaled a glass bowl.

“Oh yeah, they definitely can,” offered Michelle. “My friend Kimmy had one and it got out and they found it a week later crawling on the stairs.” Glad she’s here.

I offered the sleeping downstairs option (no sweat off my back since “downstairs” means “Danny’s room”), but with uncaged animals and little girls, it is most definitely a “once bitten, twice shy” situation. Stephanie was not convinced that the hermit crab would not seek her out for retribution for being taken from his friend in Myrtle Beach. The crab had to be found.

It was about this time Stephanie recalled that she had been playing with her pet with a friend and, perhaps, could have left him outside the bowl. I confirmed this was highly likely, but the point remained: we had to find the monster crab that was threatening to terrorize the night’s sleep. And I needed a night’s sleep.

So I got down on hands and knees and after an extensive, exhausting 11-second search, was able to locate Priscilla swimming in the dust ruffle. Problem solved. Night saved. But just to be safe, everyone’s sleeping downstairs tonight.

Did something just move in the corner?

I Can’t Even Imagine

Posted by Uncle Jesse

I almost wrote this post in February (hence the attempt at an avant-garde photo of the Tanner house Valentine’s wreath). It recently became relevant again.

Danny says he could take all the posts I’ve “almost written” and we’d have two blogs: The Real Full House blog and The Posts That Almost Made It Out Of Jesse’s Head And Onto The Real Full House blog. He’s a funny guy. But point taken–I’m not quite as good as Danny with the consistency piece.

Another thing I’m not as good as Danny at is listening. The guy is a human sounding board. I can’t imagine what it’s like for him having to feign interest in all the inane sports stuff I throw at him. Not that I think he’s a phony–he tells me his general interest in sports has grown (and I can attest that his knowledge has), and I believe him. Perhaps I just find it impossible for anyone else to care about the difference between the NBA and college basketball traveling rule. But you know what I’m good at? Talking. So I prattle on. And, even while cooking dinner, he plays the role of the engaged listener well, maintaining eye contact (glancing down briefly to empty the trash) and asking follow-up questions.

The same goes with stories about my weekends, my triumphs and frustrations with trying to start and grow and small business with my good friend, and the stupid MTV shows I watch. I don’t mean to suggest he gets nothing out of it–I do enjoy sharing music with him and I know he likes adding to his collection of tunes. I can’t yet tell if he’s sold on Chapelle’s Show, which I’ve been making him watch as Comedy Central replays them in summer, but he takes my word for it when I tell him the show was seminal, and thus puts up with the episodes I make him watch.

Some of my favorite conversations with him are about God. We talk about things we’ve read, or heard in church, or had explained to us but disagreed with. We both approach the subject with curiosity and humility. As Danny will attest, when I am certain I am right about something I will plow through any argument to the contrary (and enjoy the challenge along the way–perhaps a little too much). But most times these conversations involve phrases, “I think what makes the most sense in my head,” and “what I try to do is…”. The discussions always have the feel of two people trying to help each other learn more about a vastly complex subject, and I like that.

But there’s one thing that–though as we’ve talked about life and love and Lord, it has come up–I have trouble dumping on the guy:

How do you turn to a guy who lost his wife, best friend, lover, and mother to his three beautiful daughters….and complain about a broken heart?

I Got Your Lemonade

"e'erybody in the club getting thirsty"

posted by Jesse

A few weeks ago, DJ wrote a nice post about some uncle she claimed to be me, though I’m not sure I fit parts of the description. Mainly the part when she refers to me as “middle-aged”. One part she definitely got right is that we like to mess with each other.

At Lisa’s funeral, one of the speakers was a long-time church member who had married an english teacher at our high school. Lisa happened to be in one of the teacher’s classes at Broughton at the time the pair were dating, and knew the speaker as a Sunday School teacher and youth advisor at church. He told the story of how, at Valentine’s Day, she bought a carnation through the school sale, had it sent to her teacher and signed it as from her church youth advisor. The speaker pointed out he thought the relationship was going well anyway, but Lisa’s prank must not have strained things too much because they ended up together!

So when I hear about DJ collecting money to get a life-size cardboard cutout of one of her favorite teachers made, naturally I think of her Mom. Lisa was good at a little mischief–the kind that spices up the ordinary routine of life, but rarely nears the point of real rule-breaking.

DJ must have been looking to spice up a boring day of baby-sitting her sister and a couple of their friends a few weeks back because I got a text from her that read:

“Yo! We’re drinking your lemonade….mmmmm….it is good!”

It should be noted that I have a favorite lemonade drink mix–Country Time Strawberry Lemonade–that I try to consume more of so I’ll drink less soda. Since I willfully graze on any meals, snacks, drinks, and candy piles that are too big to notice one piece missing at the Tanner house, I make clear that folks are welcome to share in anything I put in the fridge. But I get the feeling that Danny doubles back behind me and tells the girls not to drink my lemonade, because they always treat it as if it’s sacred or something.

Unless DJ gets bored baby-sitting.

I played along and texted back, “Nooooooo!”

She went on to gush in 160-character messages about how great the lemonade was and how regrettable it was that I couldn’t be on hand to stop the free flow of pink goodness from the pitcher that was taking place.

I pretended to be ticked. Then, via text, I received the photo you see at the top of the post, just to drive home the level of consumption of my lemonade.

Ok, perhaps the next day when I got done playing basketball and was forced to quench my thirst with, ugh, water I was slightly less amused. But I’ve got a Star Wars light saber whose only functionality is to serve as something DJ can steal from my room so that whenever I notice it’s missing I can wax indignant and stomp around her room looking for it. How much fun is that?

Stranded! (without internet)

Posted By Uncle Jesse

Danny has been making this face for a couple of days. I know he’s able to keep perspective, but it really is frustrating when the internet is down at the house. But help is on the way–sometimes we wait out an internet glitch, but this one has persisted for a couple days so Danny called a a service guy.

I already knew Danny wrote a lot more than I did on the blog. He reminds me almost daily. What I didn’t know was just how clockwork-regular his posting had been. We had people calling and emailing the house making sure everything was ok when Danny didn’t post on Wednesday! Yes, readers, we are ok. The internet has been down, but somehow we have survived. I had to spend more time in a Starbucks than I would have liked sending in an article on Wednesday night, and Danny may have to atone for the cursing he did when he realized he lost some of his work when it went out, but all in all we came through it unscathed.

Here’s what’s been happening this week:

Tanners back in the Capital

I bet DJ wishes she had her sisters in D.C. with her this time

DJ took a trip with the rest of 8th grade to Washington, D.C. (with a stop at King’s Dominion on the way home!).  The picture to the left is actually from our D.C. trip in January. DJ doesn’t have her phone with her, so she hasn’t sent any pictures from this trip. Funny story about that phone….

Apparently the students were asked to not take their phones, only DJ heard from others that some parents were letting them. She told Danny she wanted to take her phone just to call/text to check in at night. Danny told her he didn’t think she was supposed to but he would check with some other parents to see what they were doing. But the discussion was interrupted and Danny forgot what was finally decided upon.

When the phone wasn’t where Danny thought he had last seen it when DJ left, he thought perhaps she had taken it with her. He wasn’t exactly ticked, because he admitted they had never really settled the matter. But he wasn’t exactly happy either. I was actually kind of curious as to how he would handle. But then I spotted her phone in her room. What a kid.

Blue Streak

One thing I like about the girls’ school is the traditions they have and keep year after year. One of the best is Blue-White Day, where the school is split down the middle–half Blue, half White–and the two sides compete against each other in a series of activities. Then the points are tallied and one side reigns supreme for the year.

it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you gear up beforehand

From what I’ve been told, White had been dominant for a number of years. But last year we reversed that trend, when the 3rd-5th grade Blue team members rallied late for the win. I was actually in attendance; Stephanie was a little upset at the time that Lisa would not be in attendance as she had been for every Blue-White Day. The Tanner girls don’t win a lot of heats in the competition, so it’s nice to get a hug for the effort. I filled in for Lisa, who did her part by smiling down upon the Blue team (or maybe to point talliers).

Well, Blue kept it going this year with another overall win! Stephanie practiced her hula-hooping and did her best. DJ was on a Blue basketball team…and had a cool outfit. I actually was unable to make it to this year’s Blue-White Day because….

Working Man

I’m starting a new job Monday. Overall this is a good thing, but it’s been a bit of a tough sell around the Tanner house. Stephanie wanted me to come to Blue-White Day again, but I had to train at the new job. I won’t be able to substitute teach and be around the school quite as much. I won’t be able to stop by for lunch (I wouldn’t say this was a weekly occurrence any way, but I did drop in with some Panera from time to time).

But they’ve been happy for me, too. Stephanie told me she was proud of me when I told her I’d be on the radio every day.

Have a good weekend, Real Full House readers.

Gift Usage

 
Posted By Jesse
Gift-giving is not one of my biggest strengths. Lisa was an amazing gift-giver but I think it’s because it gave her an excuse for more shopping. But even beyond picking things out, she had that sort of mind that was always thinking about the next birthday or Christmas coming up. Typically by the time Christmas shopping season came around, she was already done, having kept a watchful eye out for presents while on trips and vacations. I’m more of the “how late are you open on Christmas Eve?” kind of guy.
 
The other thing Lisa and Danny are both good at is establishing “themes” for birthdays and Christmas for the kids: they let you know what the big thing is going to be and it helps you pick a relevant accessory. Plus, if the kid is already excited about said big ticket item, they’re that much more likely to be excited about every related gift. It’s a win-win. When DJ got her cell phone, I got her a case. When Michelle got a big art easel, I gave her cool crayons and other supplies.

the picture belies the excitement of first piercing

This year one of Stephanie’s Christmas themes was EARRINGS! She got her ears pierced just before Christmas and must have gotten 30 pair of them in December to get her collection started. I joined in the theme: I got her an earring stand and a little wooden box with a design on it to hold loose ones. I was pleased with the purchase.

But not as pleased as I was a few weeks later when I first noticed that she actually uses them! Typically I’m happy if my gift gets picked up after the wrapping comes off; seeing it put to practical use is a whole new ball game.
 
Being thoughtful and sweet is something Stephanie comes by naturally, but I have learned that putting presents to use is a specific skill that she has inherited from Danny’s mother. From what I have been told she has an extra gene that allows her to mentally label every sweater or serving tray or electronic device that she ever received as a present with the name of the giver. Then, if that person is visiting, she will being wearing or using the gift. Not only that, she does it naturally, never seeming like she’s planned it this way, so it really does seems as if you have always given her the perfect gift.
 
Michelle has been learning in cotillion about the proper way to receive a compliment. Stephanie and her grandmother could teach classes on the best way to receive a gift, a way that makes the giver feel good. It’s a gift they have.

“I’m Bored”

Posted by Jesse

Being at home with DJ by herself is easy. Basically she’d just prefer you not be seen or heard, but be on hand to drive in case the store calls and her shoes come in. Easy enough. Stephanie likes to hang out, but if I need to watch a basketball game or write something, she can get lost in a book or a TV show or listening to music. Michelle, on the other hand, believes being entertained is her birthright.

She has no concern for your sightline to the television if she wants someone to crawl upon. She is indifferent to the computer she displaces as she slides into your lap. And she does not care what else you have going on when she announces, “I’m bored!” with the expectation that you will make moves to reconcile the situation.

Which is actually a shame, because when she doesn’t have the crutch of someone else to entertain her, the kid does some wildly creative stuff. You’ve already heard about Zelia the fortune teller, who has made multiple appearances.  But the list of characters doesn’t stop there.

Not too long ago, when we were at my mother’s house and I was watching my sister Sallie’s kids along with Michelle and Stephanie, Michelle got bored but realized I had to keep my main focus on the younger kids. So she started an impromptu “talk show” on the back patio furniture. She lined up family members as guests and asked probing questions like, “So, tell us what is up with you!”

Maybe she heard Oprah was retiring.

Recently Michelle asked what the paparazzi was and Danny explained it to her. The next morning she insisted I walk in front of her on our way to the car. I was curious as to why.

“To block the paparazzi, dear.”

She had created a new persona, this one half southern belle, half Hollywood starlet. I recognized this character when I saw her a few days later.

I was mowing Danny’s prize-winning lawn (two weeks in a row, for those of you scoring at home….I know I am) when Michelle comes out in a bathrobe, despite the fact that she had already been dressed for the day earlier. Her hair was also sassily done to the side. If I knew more about hair I could explain it better, and I didn’t have a camera because I was mowing the lawn.

As I finish the back yard, she is motioning for me to cut the mower immediately, and though she’s trying to look steamed, she’s having a hard time suppressing laughter. I finally cut the mower and saunter over. She lays into me.

“I am TRYING to get my beee-auty sleep and I cannot because of all this racket you are making!”

It’s the same character who was hiding from the paparazzi. She follows me as I finish the lawn, standing on the various porches, giving me the evil eye and telling me to shut it down, then giving me the “well, I never!” storm offs when I refuse to yield.

Later that day the whole crew is getting out of the car and Stephanie and DJ both have a few bags to carry in. Michelle doesn’t have anything, but she goes into character once again.

“I’m not really the carrying type, thanks,” she let us know.

We need to come up with names for all of her characters…the talk show host, the southern actress…I’m sure there are more to come. I’m not quite clear how she ever gets bored.

A Huge Thank You! (and back to the trough….)

Cotton candy machine on site? The fine dining bar has officially been raised.

Posted by Jesse

A few weeks ago Danny chronicled the first family outing to Golden Corral. It was an experience for Danny, who thinks dinner jackets for the dining patrons might be a nice touch, but otherwise seemed to enjoy his meal. And how many meals with three children do you get through without at least one complaining about the menu selection? Not at Golden Corral, where everything is on the menu.

Round 2 of main course for Steph, Round 3 of dessert for Michelle

We were surprised, honored, and extremely grateful when not one but TWO different blog readers with Corral connections hooked us up with gift cards for our next visit! Danny and I have never fully determined exactly what the goal/purpose for our blog is, but I assure you we were not expecting free swag. But, again, we were appreciative and honored that someone (make that two someones!) was entertained enough by Danny’s take on the GC experience to reach out to us.

And with Danny away on business, last night was the perfect night to put a few of them to use. So we lunched light, packed up the crew (even brought Kimmy Gibbler along for the ride), and headed to the eater’s paradise. The anticipation of the dessert spread alone had us in such good spirits that we didn’t mind the stares we were getting as the entire car belted High School Musical as we rolled down Glenwood Avenue.

One tip for future dining: booths are not ideal for parties who are not on the same buffet schedule. I ended up eating most of my meal standing or hopping seats to accommodate the non-stop food runs.

But of course, in the end, everyone ate their fill. And then chased it with Cotton Candy.

A little surf (shrimp for Kimmy) and turf (steak for DJ)

THANKS again to our generous Golden benefactors.

You Never Even Call Me By My (First) Name

Posted by Jesse

We should all just have one name like Rihanna.

Danny’s got business out of town this weekend, which means I’ll be handling the girls, which on the weekend typically means releasing them to or receiving them from other parents in a series of social events and recreational activities. Take one to the mall, take two to tennis lessons, get back the one from the mall plus a friend, send one to a birthday party with a car pool, drop another at a play date and have her dropped back off later….the usual. I can generally handle it, plus the girls know roughly where they’re supposed to be when, PLUS Danny types every move up on a schedule he leaves on the kitchen counter when he departs (note: he’s a bit of a nerd, but I’m really not cracking on him here. If I were leaving my kids with me, I’d leave a few notes around. And call. Often)

But what I really need is for him to start typing the names of the adults I am likely to encounter on these activities. Full names. Because I have this conversation a lot:

Kimmy Gibbler’s Dad: “Well, I think Stephanie and Kimmy had a great time at the party.”

Me: “I’m sure they did. Thanks again for driving, Mr. Gibbler”

Kimmy Gibbler’s Dad: “Please, call me Tom.”

Which I would be happy to do. Except I had no idea what the man’s first name is. Danny already explained his own difficulty in remembering names, and I’m not much better. But this is a more specific phenomenon.

Not too say I’m popular, but even before moving in with the Tanners I had a few friends. I grew up in big schools and a large church. I worked at a large summer camp. I lived in a few different cities. All of which is to say I’m in a few large pools of friends. Moving in with the Tanners added a whole new pool of people. Actually it was more like adding an ocean. School friends, swimming club friends, church friends, neighbors, friends of the girls (and their parents) (and their siblings), Danny’s friends (and their kids)…they are all now my friends.

And don’t get me wrong: we are grateful for every one of them. Danny and I occasionally remark on how much of an impact all of our collective friends have had on the past year, and how much more difficult situations like this must be for folks who are more alone (side note: maybe this weekend would be a good one to reach out to a cancer-surviving family? Not us! We’re good this weekend).

But it’s a lot of people. And I only had about two months of grace period before I felt like I couldn’t ask for names anymore because I had probably been introduced to everyone. So there I am, walking around at one of the Stephanie’s birthday sleepovers, asking DJ and Michelle to tell me who is who. And I’ve learned some. I am almost positive I can name, at sight, each of the girls’ 5-10 best friends (probably a few more for DJ than Michelle, since I see the older kids more and typically they’re easier to remember as they develop a little more personality).

Teachers are especially difficult because I only ever hear to them referred to by their last name! But they’re especially important because they were also Lisa’s co-workers and good friends. Some of them have clearly spotted the look of unfamiliarity on my face and have introduced (or re-introduced) themselves. Thank you, Mrs. (Sharon) Keen!

It only added to the headache when I took on the role of Cross Country coach at the girls’ school (sorry, Stephanie, that does in fact mean you have to run on the team next year….or walk home after school). I’m there on day one, and because I do believe names are important I am trying my darndest to learn all of the kids’ full names as quickly as possible. But, of course, it’s also the one day that the parents dropping off are going to introduce themselves, meaning while I’m fretting about making some kid feel left out in the first week because he’s the one name I don’t remember, my window of opportunity to scoop up some adult first names is closing rapidly. (this also leads to an off-shoot of the “parents I only know by last name”; the “parents I know by their abbreviated email handles”).

So let’s just pick a round number and say I have met 800 new people that I know interact with through Danny and the girls. That’s a lot of new names, right? But of these 800 many, as I’ve pointed out, are related. Thus the number of new families would be more like 250 or 300, a much more manageable number. And, unless you’re a hyper-educated, uber-progressive like my sister Sallie, most people in the same family have the same last name. And that’s the one I work hardest to learn.

Yes, I was raised to respect my elders and greet them with formal names. Yes, I tend to think of myself as perpetually 18 and much more a part of DJ’s generation than, ugh, her parents. But to be honest…I’m probably calling you Mr. or Mrs. because, even if deep down I knew it was Tom, my thought process probably went something like this:

.…there’s an adult I should know…..whose friend is it….it’s one of DJ’s friends….no Stephanie….no DJ…..it’s Kimmy’s Dad….or is it Maggie’s….no it’s Kimmy’s….Kimmy Gibbler….he’s Mr. Gibbler…he’s….he’s…I think he’s Tom Gibb–

“Hellllloooo, Mr. Gibbler!”

Siblings fair no better with me. If I see Kimmy’s little brother and the name doesn’t pop in fast enough, I just call him Mr. Gibbler, too, only I say it with inflection as if I’m saying a cool nickname so as not to give away the fact that I’m clueless.

“Ah, yes. Mista Gibblerrrr.”

It’s enough of a task being able to put the right parent with the right child and siblings. No one notices how much I beam when DJ has multiple friends over to spend the night, and the next morning I am able to correctly identify which child is being picked up just by seeing their parent.

“Kimmy, doesn’t your Dad drive a grey suburban? I think he’s here.”

To be fair, I try to return the favors when it comes to learning names. When I started hanging around the school one of the teachers said, “Well what should I call you, because I only know and hear of you as Uncle Hayes?”

“Well if it’s easiest you can just call me Uncle Hayes.”

And so she does.

Don’t Get Much Sleep, But We Have A Little Fun

Not my actual bed.

Posted By Jesse

Last Sunday morning I heard a light tap on on my bedroom door, followed by a twist of the knob and slight cracking. I turned my gaze from Sportscenter to the room’s entrance, anticipating the appearance of a bored 8-year old looking for someone to entertain her. Sure enough, Michelle peered through the doorway with an “I know I wasn’t exactly invited, and I know it’s kind of early, but….” look on her face. When she saw me smiling rather than shooing her away, the door flew the rest of the way open and in three quick steps she had bounded into the room and up onto my bed.

I’m not sure exactly when the girls decided I was less of a guest who was not to be bothered and more of a family member who is only granted semi-privacy, but it was a welcome change from my perspective.

On this particular morning, Stephanie had had a night of restless sleep and coughing, and Danny was letting her sleep in a bit in his bed, which is where Michelle had undoubtedly begun her quest for a playmate. But he booted her to let Stephanie rest, and 8 a.m. is just too early in the morning to start playing with dolls I suppose.

So Michelle and I did lounging stuff. I tickled. We snuggled. We wrote letters on each other’s backs and tried to guess what the message was. I wrapped her up like a burrito in my comforter and pretended I couldn’t figure out how to get her out. I acted like I feel back asleep on top of her, smothering her until she could stop laughing enough to belt out, “Get! Off! Me!” All in all…it was probably the best Sunday morning I’ve had in a while.

I’m not overly eager to have another human completely dependent on me. But if you put enough of these types of moments in the brochure to draw in people to become parents, I’d probably get suckered into signing my life away without looking too closely at the fine print.

Lisa and Danny’s bed used to be the main hub of activity in the house, I have gathered. That is because it was also Lisa’s throne. Danny tells me in the evenings she would set up shop in her bed: Law and Order re-runs on the television, laptop computer open for work or Disney planning, she would welcome kids to her bed to review flash cards, plan summer activities, or just plain snuggle. In fact, any time I ask Michelle about memories of her Mom she brings up snuggling in her bed.

Danny probably recognizes some of Lisa’s sedentary traits in her brother, because after dinner I often post up with a laptop on my bed and dial in the evening’s sporting events on the television. I’m not nearly the center of activity Lisa was, but I’ve come to find that more and more the girls treat hopping up on my bed–to chat, to play, for study help–as a regular thing, and not something they have to ask permission to do. And I love it.

Yes, there are times I’m trying to bang out an article that I have put off and put off and now have to write double-time just to get it in a day late. And there are probably times when I would enjoy sleeping in. But I’m trying to put the word out that my bed is open for family business.

It may not be “Grandma’s Feather Bed” and it certainly can’t compete with Lisa’s throne, but my bed is starting to work its way into the rotation of family hang-out spots. DJ will stop by if Danny is putting the other girls to bed and she needs someone to quiz her on vocabulary words. There are still a pair of Stephanie’s dress shoes in my room from when she got home from church and sprinted to my room to let me know how lazy I was for still being in my pajamas….and ended up staying for a while. And, of course, the world is Michelle’s playground, so she’ll come in looking for entertainment any time she pleases.

Moving in with the Tanners, I basically forfeited the right to lock my door. Best trade I ever made.

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