(The first fifteen minutes can be seen here.)
After Marlo finishes her bottle, I have to grab it out of her hands or she’ll throw it across the room. She doesn’t aim at anything in particular, she just likes the way an object arcs in the air once it has left her hand, be it her bottle or Jon’s phone or the head of the rat she has gnawed off with her jagged chipped tooth.
While the dogs play outside one of us will pour Leta a bowl of cereal. New rules stipulate that it can’t be crap cereal. It actually has to have nutritional value beyond calories. She reluctantly agrees to Cheerios while I bite my lip so that I don’t rattle off how many kids would love a bowl of Cheerios, and here she has one FOR FREE.
With a morning talk show on in the background, Jon throws together a protein shake for the both of us: skim milk, two bananas, peanut butter, ice, and a scoop of protein powder. I will need that protein to get through my workout and to give me the strength to hold my shit together when Matt Lauer announces that there is a rumor that Michele Bachmann might run for president.
Jon grabs me by the shoulders as I step out the door to run for the hills.
After Leta finishes her breakfast, she and Marlo play some imaginary game involving castles and swimming pools and a maiden locked up in a dungeon. Marlo humors Leta and acts as if she understands what the hell is going on when really all she is doing is following her around looking for something to throw and/or disassemble.
At some point Marlo will grab Leta’s glasses and The Morning Chase will ensue. Sadly no cars or explosions are involved because that shit would be awesome.
Inevitably, one of us has to let the dogs back in. This is one of the worst parts of the day, and I know I’m lucky when I say that, but god, I hate this part. Remember the snow? There is always snow on the ground, so the dogs are always wet. And if the snow is fresh, Coco will come in the house so covered in chunks of it that she resembles a miniature abominable snowman.
Wiping the dogs down takes a good ten minutes. Often we’re really lazy about it, and so we live with paw prints on the wood floors for days. You would think that my OCD would not let this happen, but even my OCD is lazy.
Maybe they make a medication for that. Oh, right. It’s called cocaine.
At 7:50 AM my cousin McKenzie arrives for the day, and I head upstairs with Leta to get dressed. The next ten minutes will be the most tedious of the day because my daughter is very much like her father and is easily distracted. We pick out what she’s going to wear, and then I make her look me in the eyes and say, “These clothes go on my body.”
So I ask her what she’s going to do with these clothes, and she answers, “Can you repeat the question?”
I leave her to her scientific experiment while I go dress for the gym: workout pants, tank top, heart monitor. I check the back of my hair in the mirror to see just how scary it is and decide it’s not bad enough that someone will stop me and ask what kind of animal crawled up and died on my head, and is that embalming fluid? I brush my teeth, secure my watch, and then head back to see what Leta has accomplished while I’ve been gone. Usually she is sitting on top of her clothes in her underwear. Reading a book.
“Leta, what are you doing?”
“What are you supposed to be doing?”
Looking around the room as if someone else might give her the answer, she shrugs with a question mark. So I stand there and make her put on her pants, her shirt, her socks. Then we head to her bathroom where she brushes her teeth while I brush her hair, and every morning she begs me, “Please don’t make it look crazy.”
Meaning, I am not allowed to do anything or put anything on her head. Here is this kid with the most luxurious head of hair, so thick and shiny, so wanting me to get all creative up in there. And she won’t let me! It’s like a gorgeous sunset over the ocean, a sailboat positioned perfectly on the horizon, and it’s all IF YOU TAKE A PICTURE I WILL BREAK YOUR CAMERA.
We both head back downstairs where Jon has made sure that Leta’s backpack is ready to go, stuffed with mittens and snow boots. We all take our vitamins and watch as Jon goes through his allergy regimen involving several sprays, pills, siphons, oxygen masks, and full-body plastic wrap.
As Leta and I head out the door we say our goodbyes. Marlo waves at both of us and then holds out her fist so that we can do Bones. Which I guess is something the kids are doing these days? My teenage niece taught this to Marlo, this thing where you bang fists and yell, “BONES!” I’m probably making a fool of myself just by describing it this way. I don’t care. Why? Because my seven-year-old got dressed without any yelling, and already this day is kicking so much ass!