Archive | May, 2011

Naming Committee

27 May

“How about this, are you ready?  ‘Larry, Darryl and Darryl’!”

…and variations thereof.  So goes a boilerplate conversation I inevitably have with someone, somewhere nearly every day.

Horace? Mortimer? Floyd?

But, for Carey and I, it’s serious business.  After all the screwball suggestions, at the end of the day, we always have to return to the drawing board and get serious:  these people need to be called something.

You probably picked up from the previous entry that we’re not saying anything about names we’re considering.  To be honest, we’ve really not even said much about names we’re not considering.  Multiple reasons for this, but, to cut to the chase: we’re more or less assuming that people aren’t going to like what we come up with and we’d just as soon not give the h8ers a chance to h8.

Corbin? Cecil? Phillipe?

Everyone thinks, Oh, you’ve gotta do a theme.  Make ’em all rhyme or start with the same letter or spell something sweet when you put ’em together!  Or name them after something crazy, like Donald Duck’s nephews!  But it should be funny!  MAKE SURE IT’S FUNNY.

I’m not sure what it is about triplets, but everyone thinks their names need to be hilarious for some reason.  “Little men, your very existence is absurd and you shall be named accordingly.”

Another comment I hear a lot: “you’re probably so tired of getting suggestions from everyone.”  Not at all.  But there are ways to suggest and ways not to suggest.

Here’s a helpful guide:

“You know what I thought would be great for one of your boys? ‘Smeagol’. I just love the sound of it!”
This is nice because giving us a single suggestion shows you’re thinking of our boys as individuals, which is what we’re trying our best to do. We likely won’t wind up using ‘Smeagol’, but it’s good of you to think of it.

“How about Everett, Pete and Delmar, like from that Coen Brothers movie? You’re a Coen fan, aren’t you?”
Huge Coen fan! Carey and I have decided to stay away from theme-ing our kids in any way, but it’s a very sweet suggestion. You’re thinking of our children as a part of us, influenced by our likes and interests. And who knows? Maybe we’ll end up using Delmar for someone or a middle name, you never know.

“You two are creative, you shouldn’t feel afraid to have kids with creative names.”
Thank you! It’s refreshing to talk to someone who actually has faith in our ability to be unique without being damaging. You’d be surprised how many well-meaning people are hoping to “save” our kids from our arty-fartyness.

“Whatever you do, don’t name them something strange, like Garguax.”
Please don’t do this. Believe it or not, not once but twice we’ve had this said to us and the name given as an example was a name on our list of serious considerations. (And in one of those cases, it was the name of someone we know and respect who we were considering naming one of the boys after, which makes it a doubly shitty thing to hear.)

“I knew a guy named Jojoba and he’s a total douchebag. For my sake, don’t name any of them Jojoba.”
Believe it or not, Carey and I know scores of jerks who have forever ruined perfectly good names for us. Do us a favor and don’t add to the list. In fact, all name suggestions that start with “don’t”? Maybe just keep them to yourself.

“Promise me you’ll–“
Whup, stop right there. If we’re talking names, there’s no possible way for that statement to end well.

“Make sure any name you come up with can’t be twisted into something gross or vulgar by kids at school.”
Fun fact: KIDS CAN TWIST ANY NAME IN EXISTENCE INTO SOMETHING GROSS AND VULGAR. They carry teeny tiny Name Distortion PhDs in their wee wallets.

It’s made us think a lot about our personal style, though.  What sorts of names are us?  It helped to start to figure out the sorts of things we didn’t want and work from there:

Trendy Names
(Aiden, Lucas, Gavin, Dylan, Connor)
Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these.  In fact, don’t take my word for it, just ask millions of American kids born in the last several years.  It’s great to have a popular name.  But, for us, if it shows up on a Top 20 Baby Name list anywhere, executive decision, we’re taking a pass.  (True story, when we thought we might have a girl or two in the mix, I fought for “Abigail”, after the Magnetic Fields song.  Carey wasn’t hip and she finally pulled the trump card: an online baby list of popular names in 2011.  Number 8: Abigail.  I conceded defeat.)

Biblical Names
(Noah, Elijah, Caleb, Benjamin, Ethan)
Certain Bible names rise and fall in popularity, but Bible names as an institution will never go out of style.  I’m not sure what it is, but I could never picture myself saddling my offspring with anything out of Scripture (even though, it’s true, my own first and middle names are biblical).  I can’t really give you a good reason, it just appeals to me about as much as giving them a Muslim name or a Buddhist name.

Names That Aren’t Names
(Silvery Blu, Apple, Surprise, Marshmallow Courage)
Probably self-explanatory here, but there’s a part of me that kind of applauds a parent who’s willing to name their kid something on the outrageous side.  I mean, really, what’s so much more masculine and inspiring about an “Aiden” than an “Apple” anyhow?  But, questions of adding to a child’s tribulations aside, it’s just not us to goof out like that.

We don’t like rhyme-y names and we’re skeptical about alliteration.  We’re definitely not doing a theme and there’s no way in hell we’re going to try to get cute or funny.

Schroeder? Vladimir? Spock?

So what’s left?

Well, we do like old names, classic names.  Artists or authors or fictional characters that have inspired us, we’re into that.  Song titles or evolved versions of something nearly forgotten… there’s sort of a romance there.  Historical activists or places we’ve never been, all fair game.  Also, while we’re dreaming, I think we’re into the idea of not picking a name that’s typically tied to a specific ethnicity.

Me, I made a decision early on, which has frustrated Carey a little, but I can’t help it.  It has to mean something to me personally.  There has to be a certain serendipity to a name, a connection to something that’s meant a great deal to me at one point or another.  It’s not enough for it to just sound good.  I need to anchor myself to it.

I know, I know.  Yeesh.

Carey, admittedly, is content with something that has a nice ring to it.  But don’t be fooled, she’s not so easy to please either.  We’ve got three firsts and three middles to come up with and it’s been a struggle.  We’ve honed in on a few candidates that we’re very fond of, but we’re letting it marinate a little.

But we also laid down the rule early on: either one of us has 100% veto power over any suggestion.  Translation: if we’re not both completely in love with it, it’s out.

All that’s to say, maniacal standards aside, we genuinely are happy to hear suggestions.  We’ve got a lot of people to name, after all, and absolutely nothing’s set in stone as far as we’re concerned.  And you can see why.

So, lay ’em on us, people.  We don’t have all summer, here.

Diction

25 May

CAREY:  _____’s a good name for one of the boys.  I like it, but I don’t know.  It might be hard for him to pronounce when he starts talking.

ME:  You think?

CAREY:  Well, what if he has a speech impediment or a problem with his Rs?

ME:  Mm.  I suppose that’s something to consider.

CAREY:  I had a really hard time with my name growing up.  It was embarrassing!

ME:  “Cawey May Moyew.”

CAREY:  It’s very common!  Of course, you never had to worry about anything like that because, ohh, little Jeremy Bear pronounced everything perfectly!  You even beat up your poor little sisters for saying anything wrong.

ME:  It’s true.  I’m not sure what to tell you, I was blessed with perfect diction.  I just assumed it was how the world worked.  To mispronounce was an insult to the gift of language!

CAREY:  Ugh god.

ME:  I’d look around, thinking, “you freaks know how to speak!  You’re being lazy!  Show a little respect and maturity, would you?”

CAREY:  Well, there is some truth to that…

ME:  What do you mean?

CAREY:  All right, I’ve never admitted this to anyone, but I… hh.  I sort of, I don’t know.  Listen, I’m not proud of this.

ME:  What are you talking about?

CAREY:  There was a girl, I think her name was Tiffany.  This was first grade.  She was just so cool!  Really cute, you know, all the boys liked her.  And she knew it, too.  She had the perfect little clothes, everything.  She wore this puffy white coat all the time.

ME:  Like Savannah Smiles, before she gets kidnapped?

CAREY:  Uh.  Sure.

ME:  Well, technically, she wasn’t kidnapped.  She ran away and was hiding out in the back seat of these felons’ car.  But her parents put out this reward for her and… y’know, the story gets pretty sophisticated.  But, yeah, puffy white coat, I get the picture.

CAREY:  Anyhow, this girl, Tiffany, had a speech impediment.  She had trouble with her Rs.  And for some reason, it just made her even cuter!  She could do no wrong!

ME:  Man, c’mon, don’t tell me…

CAREY:  Well, they put me in speech therapy and it cleared up the problem, but sometimes I’d, you know, for convenience, I’d pick my moments.

ME:  You dropped your Rs for status, you little climber.

CAREY:  It was a real low period, I admit it.

ME:  Cawey May Moyew, gaming the system!

CAREY:  If you’d seen this Tiffany and her outfits, you’d have understood.

ME: I wonder what she’s doing now.

CAREY:  Probably something glamorous.

ME:  Either that or hooking.

CAREY:  That’s possible.  She was always fancy.

Daniel

24 May

Let me tell you about Daniel (poor bastard).

You’ll recall last Monday’s Baby Care class.  Well, last night was Becoming Parents, once again hosted by Susan (etc.), chock full of helpful information.  (What does a baby look like in the first few days?  What changes and how fast?  Why is he crying/laughing/ignoring you?)

A quick sketch of Daniel. Probably not a very good likeness, but the best I could do from memory.

During an informal “introduce yourself to your neighbor” moment toward the beginning, we met Daniel and his wife, whose little girl is due in early July.  Nice folks.  They offered the appropriate congratulations/sympathies when we told them about the triplets.

Class began and it became immediately clear that Daniel (poor bastard) is a fidgety sort of guy, kind of uncomfortable in his own skin.  At least a few times over the course of the evening, he’d stand up and pace to the back of the room, wait a minute or two, then return to his seat.  After awhile, I began wondering if it was some sort of medical issue or tic.

Susan is good about asking for questions and our class asked a lot of them.  Mostly, it was a good group.  This is Long Beach, so the whole gamut was represented: the cultured and educated, the shell-shocked teens, the blue collar crowd, the granola hipsters, whites, blacks, hispanics, asians and anyone else you can think of.  A lot of hands were going up and Susan was making time for everyone.

Including Daniel: “I have a question.  How, um, involved does the father need to be with the late-night stuff?”

“How ‘involved’?”

“Yeah, I mean, if they usually just need to be fed or something, the mom can probably take care of that, right?”

Chuckles.  Daniel’s wife smiled, winked at us and mouthed: “He’s trying to get out of it.”  Susan explained that, well, babies cry in the night for all sorts of reasons other than feeding, so you’ll probably need to take your share of night shifts.

The class continued.  Susan outlined the importance of getting help if you need it, but not so much visitor activity that the baby becomes over-stimulated and, consequently, awake at all hours.  “Friends, in-laws, people from church… don’t be shy about asking and be specific,” she said and nodded to me and Carey, “particularly if you’ve got multiples on the way, like our triplet mom and dad over here.”

Daniel raised his hand: “Actually, the grandma is going to come stay with us for awhile to get started.  Between her and my wife, they’ve probably got the late-night thing covered, right?  I mean, unless you’re saying that the middle of the night is an important bonding time with fathers or something…”

No smiles and winks from Daniel’s wife this time around.  Susan fielded it.  “Well, in this case, it’s probably more important to stay bonded with your wife.”

More laughter at Daniel’s expense.  Susan moved things along.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, Daniel raised his hand a few more times, always with questions that began with “Is it really necessary for me to” and “Do dads typically” and, as Susan says, et cetera.

Eventually, we stopped for a quick break.  Carey and I took the opportunity to wolf down chips and sandwiches she’d brought with her and, as we did, we noticed a minor queue forming at Susan’s podium.  She was answering specific concerns people had about their individual situations.  At the front of the line, no surprise, there was Daniel (poor bastard).  It was hard to make out what he was saying, but we heard a few keywords and phrases:

“…just saying, if grandma’s there, it’s probably okay for me to sleep as long as…”

His wife was looking optimistic, but a little defeated.  I turned to Carey: “dude’s mission in life is to get out of s#%&.”

Carey said, “shh.  He can probably hear you.”

Of all the tidbits I took from Becoming Parents… the advice on feeding and sleeping and crying, the discussions on your mental health and your partner’s, the instructions about bedding and medicine and the proper time to use a pacifier and the benefits of a sling versus a Bjorn… I think I might’ve learned the most from Daniel.

And I don’t know the guy.  Maybe he has a really specific situation and he needs every possible hour he can get his hands on in order to make the rent.  Maybe he’ll wind up being the best dad in the room.  Could happen.  But, judging by my brief interaction with him, he doesn’t seem to be off to a ripping start.

I pray god I’m not too tempted to be the dad who’s trying to get by on as little as possible.  Who assumes, eh, the wife’s on top of things, I can skate.  And anyway, those little sleepless moments of torture might even turn out to be one of the most important parts of Dad Boot Camp.  (Hah.  Check back in with me in September.)

Either way, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a Daniel, desperate to hang onto the safety and sanity of his old life.  Dodging responsibility, handing everything off to Mom.  Sleeping in, missing all the good stuff.

Because ugh.

(Poor bastard.)

An open letter to an 18-year-old me

22 May

I belong to a network called Multiples and More, which is a handy index of blogging parents and soon-to-be-parents of multiples, like me and my wife.  In case you’re running out of blog material, the site asks a “Question of the Week” to get you started.

Normally, as you’re likely well aware, I’ve no shortage of material to yammer about, so I hadn’t bothered taking part in the QotW.  But today’s caught my fancy, so I went for it.

Today’s QotW: What would you say to an 18-year-old you?

Dear 18-year-old Me,

I hope this letter finds you well.  It’s 35-year-old Me.  I know your attention span isn’t winning any awards, so I’ll be as brief as I can be.

First off and by far most importantly, you need to know that that haircut isn’t doing you any favors.  Trust me, by the time you’re me, your options are going to get extremely modest, so don’t waste any more time doing, y’know, that.

Second, she doesn’t like you.  I know, I know, but trust me on this.  Well, to clarify: turns out she does like you a lot, but not in That Way.  It’ll take another year or so for you to really come to grips with this, but your life will get infinitely easier when you do.  And no kidding: somebody better’s coming.

Third, for god’s sakes, do some sit ups and go for a quick run a few mornings each week.  Nobody’s ever going to mistake you for an athlete, but this will change your life.  For the better.  It’s worth it.  Start tomorrow.

Fourth, I know you’re going to ignore my third point because you’re going to stay young and skinny forever, right?  Kid, I swear.  You’re killing me.

Fifth, the best is ahead of you.   Really.  You won’t believe how fantastic and how much fun it’s going to be.  That’s the good news.  Bad news is, the worst is also coming.  And brother, it’s bad.  And when I say bad, I mean bad.  You’ll make it, though.

Sixth, the career stuff will be a little harder than you think.  It takes an awful lot of work and you’re going to need to deal with an awful lot of failure and rejection to do what you really want to do.  It won’t seem like it at the time, but all that failure is actually an enormous favor, gift wrapped just for you.  (And by the way, someone over you who you respect a lot will tell you when you’re 24 that you’re not talented enough to do what you’re good at for a living.  I promise you: you’ll never see this asshole again and turns out he won’t even be able to keep his own company afloat.  Don’t let him rattle you for even a day.  When it happens, you’ll want to cry (I did) and later on you’ll wish you’d peed on his desk instead.  Do me a solid and, at the very least: smile, shake his hand, and tell him how full of s#%@ he is.  You’ll be tempted to kiss his ass a little for the sake of a good reference later.  Don’t bother.  He’s a speed bump.  Move on.)

Seventh, I’ll go ahead a blow the suspense here: you’re going to be married.  From time to time, your wife will suggest you try something absolutely ridiculous.  Every once in awhile, consider taking her advice on outrageous stuff.  You’re going to find that your biggest wins started out as insane suggestions from her.  Fair warning.

Eighth, 30 is just a number.  Don’t sweat it.

Ninth, ask for help from people who are smarter and more sincere than you are.  I know that’s vague, but I don’t know how else to say it.

Tenth: dude.  Cut people a break now and then.  If you’re anything like me (and something tells me you are), you’ll be tempted to ignore this wee little truth, but I swear it’s gold: 9 times out of 10, it’s better to be kind than to be right.

Eleventh, that pain in your back is kidney stones.  You’ll continue having them for awhile, maybe forever.  It sucks and I’m sorry.  (Let me save you years of mental anguish, though: a shot of pure lemon juice every morning will keep you out of the hospital.)

Twelfth, there’s a company called Apple and they make those weird little computers that are hard to use.  Convince Dad to help you buy a little stock in them and hang onto it until you’re me.  Don’t ask questions.

Thirteenth, I’m not kidding about the hair thing.  It’s what your friends are doing, I know, but YOU’RE JUST NOT PULLING IT OFF.  C’mon, man.

Fourteenth.  And this is more or less the whole point of this letter.  You’re going to spend an awful lot of time thinking about children and whether or not it’s socially responsible to have any.  It’s going to seem to be such an effortless decision for everyone but you.  Rest assured, it’ll be resolved eventually and… you know, come to think of it, I don’t want to say anything else at the moment about it other than this: something surprising and astonishing and rare is going to happen and, I swear, it’s not what you think.  You may think you know what I’m talking about, but, stack of bibles, you don’t.  Things are going to get legendarily weird for you.  I didn’t see it coming, so it freaked the hell out of me and it still does and I think it’s probably best that way.

And, finally, fifteenth. I’m 35 and I’m telling you: our biggest adventure hasn’t happened to either of us yet.

That’s all I’ve got for now, JB.  Hang in there.  Believe it or not, a handful of your current friends will still be in your life when you’re me.  You’ll need them later as much as you do now.  Oh, and don’t take your family for granted.  They’re the best.  In fact, give your mom a call and tell her you love her (and keep telling her.  She’s in for a trial or two of her own, several years from now, and she’ll need your help).

Sincerely,

Older You

PS – Don’t feel so bad about, y’know.  You’re in your teens, it’s natural.  Even several times a day, it’s fine.

Kick

21 May

The wife woke me up this morning by grabbing my hand and putting it on her belly.

“Feel.”

I was coming out of a fairly complicated dream involving time machines and Halloween parades, but after a few seconds I felt it: kick.

I woke up properly.  She asked, “did you feel that?”

I didn’t move, waiting for another one.  And it came, full force:

KICK.

“Holy cow, that was huge,” I said.  Not only was it feel-able, it was strong.  Purposeful.  Somebody’s in there.

The last several weeks, I’ve been waiting and feeling with no luck.  I’d detect little murmurs here and there, but I was never quite sure if I was feeling a baby or a heartbeat, maybe Carey’s stomach growling.  I’d tried to coax them now and then (“Gnomes, this is your father.  Let me know you’re in there, please.”), but this was the real thing.

I took my hand away and looked at her belly.  After a few seconds, a tiny bulge popped up-down where my hand had been.  Another kick.  And this time I was seeing it.

I’m not sure if it was B or C, but someone near the top wanted to let me know they’re there.

Won’t you help us clothe our babies?

19 May

If you glance northeast on this page, you’ll see a link to our registry in the sidebar.  A few people have hit us up for it.  Voila!

If you’ve ever had a baby or gotten married, you know the stress.  It’s a gamble: you want to pick out nice stuff, but you don’t want to go overboard.  You realize you’re 100% at the mercy of the kindness of loved ones, but you hate to impose.  You know that no one is as excited/obsessed/freaked out by the idea of your children as you are, but you’re hoping everyone’s teeny bit excited.  At least excited enough to hook you up.

Of course, my lizard brain invents reasons to feel guilty and even the act of posting a baby registry on our blogs feels, for some reason, like a big imposition on the world, as if everyone’s going to feel obligated or something.  I know, I know.

Carey has fretted a great deal over what to choose.  It’s an odd experience picking a style for three people you’ve never met.  Weird stuff occurs to you, like you’re splitting the atom or something:

“What if we only ever had them in little suits and fedoras?  Gangster babies!”

“We could dress them like old people.  Give them each little cardigans.”

“What about a race car bed instead of a crib?  Doesn’t every little boy want a race car bed?”

“We might want to avoid anything with corporate logos on it.  For, I don’t know, some reason.”

Eventually, you veer everything back toward the sensible because, pete’s sake, what’s the matter with you anyway?

As far as the registry itself goes, the geniuses over at Babyli.st have done the Lord’s work and provided a very cool baby registry service, all for free.  Rather than sending people to Target for this, Babies-R-Us for that, Amazon for whatever, it’s all in one handy, centralized location.  And, as is often the case with registries, sometimes you find the exact same thing at another site or out in the real world.  Easy peasy, you just reserve it and do as thou wilt.  A simple idea that everybody should use.  Good on you, Babyli.st.

Also, admittedly, we still have a handful of items to add, but, with Carey’s shower coming up, we had to post it with most of the items we know we’ll need.

We’ve been truly blessed to have such wonderful, selfless people in our lives who are sympathetic to our situation and have offered help in the form of gifts and time.  We really are thankful for anything and everything, from prayers and well wishes to the triplet cribs you had to pick up that extra paper route to pay for.

Sincerely.  Thanks.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera

17 May

Last night we attended a so-cheap-it-was-practically-free class offered by Long Beach Memorial, the hospital where we’ll introduce the gnomes to daylight.  It was a Basics Of Not Killing Your Children kind of thing.  I think it was just called Baby Care, taught by a woman named Susan.

The Baby Care class. And Susan.

Susan doesn’t want your baby to drown in the bathtub.  She also doesn’t want your baby to electrocute itself with a pair of scissors.  She doesn’t want your baby to crack its head open on the bathroom floor, lose limbs to kitchen utensils, burn alive in your car, suffocate on its own snot, choke on toilet water, blind itself with cat litter, die from an infection inspired by a bacteria-infested nasal aspirator or decapitate itself with a passenger-side airbag.

Susan didn’t really lay out any odds, but after hearing her spiel, I put our children’s chances of survival somewhere in the neighborhood of 18%.

(That said, it’s a good thing we’re having three.  One of them may make it all the way to preschool.)

She was very specific, Susan was, about every possible horror that could befall your baby.  But in her quest to really scare the Jesus out of you, she left things slightly open ended at the close of each warning.  “Et cetera,” she’d say.  “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”

“Now, when you wash the baby’s clothes, make sure to use detergents with no inks, dyes or perfumes.  Why?  Baby skin is sensitive, guys, and you don’t want your baby looking like he’s just been cooked in a Burger King broiler.  Dyes and perfumes lead to irritation, rashes, et cetera.  But you’ll find yourself doing laundry, on average, every other day.  Rule of thumb: dress your kids for weather like you’d dress yourself, plus one layer.  Little babies don’t have adult immune systems and it’s easy for them to get pneumonia, infections and other complications resulting from hypothermia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”

It was all those Et Ceteras that really worked my nerves.

We’ve all seen the Yadda Yadda episode of Seinfeld.  George wonders, “she wouldn’t Yadda Yadda sex, would she?”

And I’m wondering, “she wouldn’t Et Cetera, I don’t know, Exploding Baby Syndrome, would she?”

A page from my notes.

At one point, I counted six consecutive Et Ceteras.

Not that it took loads of tea leaf reading to predict this one, but Carey was barely holding it together by the end of this class.  3 solid hours of listing potential baby killers, each one more gruesome than the last, I mean come on.  Any expectant mom would be a mess.  And, as Susan kept reminding us, et cetera, our only hope of protecting your Precious Package is CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

And whoops!  We’re having three.

Listen, the class was helpful, it really was.  Terrifying, but filled with good info nonetheless.  Next Monday night, we’re going back again for, I don’t know, Advanced Parenting or something.  Also taught by Susan.

The following week: Breast Feeding.  Which, I’m told, is mandatory for dads for some reason.

Well, whatever.  It’s all good.  We knew the job was dangerous when we took it (even though we were, technically, kinda drafted).

Oh, and before I forget: remember to turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees.  Otherwise you’ll find yourself in an emergency room with a scalded baby on your hands.  Which could easily lead to further complications.

And so on and so forth.