Checking on the Noodles

I’ll just go ahead and preface my next few comments with the fact that we are weird people, we Wedekinds. This branch, in particular. Ok, FINE, it’s just me. So, if at the end of this, you think: wow, she’s weird, just know you’re in good company.

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I call my children noods. I am pretty sure that when I’m hollering at them in the grocery store, people think I’m saying NUDES, which is icky and not the case. I’m saying NOOOOODS.

It’s short for Noodles. Cuz, duh.

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This is the original Noodle. Her formal name was Noodle Do.

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This is Noodle Don’t.

If you know Bo well, this makes perfect sense to you.

But then came Tucker, and sometimes we called him Noodle Won’t.

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Like especially those first few months when sleeping at all was not on his list of approved activities.

But they all have their good days and bad days, just like me. So their names just all became Noodle. They never have trouble understanding which Noodle I’m talking about, which is great because it keeps me from constantly calling any or all of them the wrong name or the dog’s name, which is a bonus.

But as you also may know, they each have a host of other nicknamesĀ to which you may hear us referring. Bucky and Bosey are probably the most common for the big kids. And Tucker, well, we haven’t discussed his nicknames publicly because they make Bucky and Bosey seem like totally normal names.

But I did say I would discuss this at some point, and I’m sure several years from now he’ll want this as evidence for his therapist, so here it is.

I call him Taco. Formal name: Taco Toss. It was this awesome Mexican Salad mix that used to come in a bag? Am I making this worse?

I also call him Tick. As in, Tick Tock. As in, Tick Tock Clock Shop? Which used to be a clock shop in Knightdale, NC?

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I hope one day he’ll forgive me for this. I really promise not to one day call his office and ask for Taco Toss Wedekind.

I mean, I promise to try.

 

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Older & Wiser

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When I was little and my cousin (hi, Susan!) came to visit for a few weeks every summer, she, my sister, and I were always burning up the road between our house and my grandparents’ house down the street. Back and forth we’d ride on our bikes all day long, depending on whose house had the best snacks or the most mischief to make or the fewest older brothers bossing us around.

Right before my grandparents’ house was an intersection where cars whizzed down the hill from the I-95 overpass.

I don’t know how my granddaddy knew when we weren’t following the rule about the intersection, but he always did.

Get off your bike and walk across that intersection, now, he’d say, as soon as we had banged through the door.

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I didn’t understand that rule at the time. According to my own logic, if you wanted to avoid getting hit by a car, you’d skedaddle across that intersection as fast as you could, right?

Now I use a version of that rule with my children: we don’t run in parking lots. Bo especially has a hard time with this rule, because he wants to run just about everywhere except to bed.

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But because I’m the one with a fully formed pre-frontal cortex, I now know that when you’re rushing, you’re not paying attention.

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And when you’re not paying attention, there’s just no telling what you’ll miss.

The Bonus Years

I’ve never really talked about my dad much here. I’ve thought about doing it, I’ve wanted to do it, but in the end, when it came time to actually write something, it was all just too much.

But on the occasion of his 70th birthday, I have resolved to dump my jumble of thoughts on my dad upon you. Maybe some of it will make sense. Maybe not.

The thing is, I spent most of my childhood struggling with my dad. Suffice it to say, we did not see eye to eye on most topics. My mom often suggested that our conflict was because we are so much alike.

I did not take this as a compliment at the time.

Later, when I was pregnant with Mary Bullock, I picked up a book called Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. I bought it for Lee, but it turns out that he doesn’t devour parenting books at quite the same pace as me. So I went ahead and read it so we’d be prepared to lay some ground rules for our baby girl.

It’s important that newborns know the rules. Train a child in the way they should go, and all.

What I found surprised me, though. While I did find a few points that validated my frustrations growing up with my dad, I also found that I could see where he was going with his parenting. Ridiculous curfew? Ohhhhh, I see. He was trying to protect me. It all made so much more sense in retrospect, when I had a soon-to-be baby girl I knew I would guard ferociously even if she didn’t always like it.

At the same time that Mary Bullock came along and flipped all of my naive self-righteousness about parenting on its head, my dad’s health deteriorated. He spent most of the summer of 2008 recovering from major surgery in a rehabilitation clinic in Rocky Mount, and at the time of MB’s birth, he was still not walking and needed round the clock care.

He eventually did recover from that surgery, but only after another surgery. The five years following that were characterized by more babies for me, and more medical crises for him. Usually simultaneously, now that I think about it.

But here has been the result: as a parent, I now realize this whole parenting thing is really hard. It’s hard even when it’s your only job, as it is for me. It’s hard even when I have the luxury of sitting around reading endlessly about best parenting practices. Daddy never had that luxury. He was up at 3am every morning working.

And for my dad, it’s obvious that he’s had a serious knock to the head with the fact that life here is finite.

The first time I remember my dad telling me that he loved me was when I was 12, the day after my grandfather (his father) died. It wasn’t the start of a new habit for him at the time, but now it is. And I could waste time lamenting the years I didn’t hear it, but I won’t.

I like to think of these years with my dad as my bonus years– the years when he could have easily not been with us, when I could be crying and wishing I would have said things to make up for the difficult years.

Instead, last weekend I got to take a midnight train to Rocky Mount to surprise him for his 70th birthday. I got to put my arms around him and kiss his scratchy cheeks. Bonus. Bonus. Bonus.

I got to write this, knowing he will read it. On facebook, no less. With his tablet. Bonus.

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Happy Birthday Daddy-o. I know you would never say this to the other kids, but I know I’m your favorite because you have cheerfully endured over 20 torturous years of UNC jokes on my account. We’ll just keep that between us, though.

 

37

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Lee and I started dating when I had just turned 23. He was on the downward slide toward a mature 25. I think we thought of ourselves as grown-ups then, which is laughable considering my ignorance of–well, almost everything.

I’m not sure we ever pinpointed what we thought life would be like when he turned 37, but in general, I’m sure we thought we’d have this whole life thing figured out by now. Before the end of our first year together, we’d already named MB and L4 and imagined our golden retriever lazing about at our feet on Sunday mornings.

Imagine our surprise to find that upon waking up this morning, on his 37th birthday, we’re still just figuring it out. Fighting over what time to go to bed on Downton Abbey premier night and kissing I’m sorry in the morning. Waiting each other out to see who will have to change Tucker’s diaper. Wondering if we’re doing all this right. Trying to calculate our steps in advance to optimize our outcomes. Realizing that’s probably a waste of time. Calculating anyway. Waiting.

Lots and lots of waiting.

Have I mentioned that we are impatient people?

If we’ve figured anything out at all, it’s that we might never figure it all out. Definitely not at 37, and maybe not at 73!

But to my precious husband: there is one thing that it doesn’t take a brain genius to figure out: all the waiting and figuring?

It’s easier because I’m with you.

(But next Sunday Downton Day, just give me the remote.)

Happy Birthday!