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Monday, July 9, 2012

Brave

No, this isn't a review of the movie, although the movie ties into it. It's just good timing. Or bad timing. Hmmm.

I'm quick to describe all the ways I think I'm an awesome dad, so I suppose I should be just as quick to point out the ways in which I'm not. . . or the ways I need to work on. Fortunately for Lily the defects in me seem to manifest themselves as strengths in my wife.

Leslie is brave. And you people (most of you) don't even really know the half of it, but that's a story for another time. 

What I mean in the context of this post is just her willingness to leave her comfort zone and push the envelope with Lily. Where I'm content to just leave things alone, she challenges my understanding of what Lily is or is not capable of, and what she can or cannot handle comfortably. Back in January, it was Leslie who elected to take Lily (solo) to Jumpzone and THEN to her first movie in a theater, Chipwrecked. I wrote about it >>HERE<<. There were a lot of points that indicated both Chipwrecked and Jumpzone would be right in Lily's wheelhouse, but. . . there were a lot of points against them too. . . and regardless of hindsight, it wasn't ME pushing the envelope, it was Leslie.

When Father's Day rolled around this year I felt some pangs about our yearly tradition. Emma and I get tickets to Sandcastle (local waterpark) and spend a day together on the water slides and in the wave pool having fun. And I lamented the fact to Leslie that I felt really guilty about excluding Lily from my celebration of fatherhood. And although it's still not time to take Lily to Sandcastle with us (I don't think even Leslie would argue that point) I was hard pressed to figure out a solution, and so I allowed inertia to carry me into father's day without really having any plan to include both kids.

Emma gave me tickets to see Brave. We'd been seeing the trailer for months and it looked so awesome. We were both really excited to see it. My parents asked if they could take Emma to see it, and I explained that Emma and I would be going as part of my Father's Day present. They asked if they could come with us and I essentially said no (which I suppose is kind of a dick move) because I like being able to take just Emma and try to make it our special event. . . get some popcorn, sit in one of those photo booth thingies (we did that when we went to see Kung Fu Panda), just a fun daddy daughter day.

Here's where we get to the part where I'm a knob (moreso than usual). Leslie asked if I wanted to take Lily. She offered to drive separately in case Lily had problems, and take her home if it got stressful. There was my chance to include both kids, right? But Leslie offered the day OF the event, and I'm horrible at reacting to changes to my plans so I was all sullen and pissy about it, and felt cornered. How do you say, "No, I don't want to include both my daughters?" I had this vision in my head of how the theater event was supposed to go, and her new plan was mucking up my vision. And I knew the right answer, but I was still pissed. And I don't really honestly know about what. 


Maybe what irritated me most was my own failure to envision a plan that would allow Lily to participate in a celebration that she and her sister were really responsible for bringing about. I don't know. I do know that I felt ashamed of myself for feeling pissy about the whole thing. . . ashamed of myself for not jumping immediately at the offer and telling her what a great idea it was and thanking her for allowing Lily to participate. I know that's what I probably SHOULD have done.

So I found a theater that wasn't super far away (the big 3D theater that I wanted to go to had screwy times for Lily to participate in, and my folks had invited us for dinner after the movie, and going to see it, then driving back to my parents house was going to be a huge pain in the ass, so that made me pissy. And then it turned out my parents had already independently planned on seeing it at that very theater, and so essentially absolutely everything I had envisioned in my head was flipped upside down, which made me even more pissy.

"Happy" father's day indeed. I felt like such a jackass for being surly and petulant about the whole plan, but also found myself stubbornly unable to pull out of it.

It was never going to work anyway. . . at least the way I had it figured in my head. "Chipwrecked" worked because Lily loves the chipmunks. She has since the first movie. We have them both on DVD and she watches them incessantly. But Lily's likes and dislikes are almost impossible to gauge. What we THINK she'll like (oh, there's lots of music and dancing, she'll LOVE this) she hates and what we doubt she'll like (Up, for example) she enjoys. "Brave" was not a slam dunk.

But Leslie wanted to include Lily in my father's day celebration, and, as is SO OFTEN the case, she wouldn't allow my shitty attitude about the whole thing to stop her from A) Doing the right thing, or B) Pushing the envelope.

Who fought against kindergarten for Lily? Me. Who didn't think Lily was ready for a theater? Me. Who would have kept Lily home from Emma's softball games? Me. Who ignores me and does all that shit anyway? Leslie. And she's almost always right. Lily had a great kindergarten year, a great time at the theater, and actually enjoys going to Emma's games.

So we took Lily to "Brave" and I had both of my girls with me to celebrate Father's Day. And it was great. Lily was such a good girl. . . and it WOULD have been less stressful going to a movie that was a little less "new" and fresh (we went the first week it came out) but she was GREAT throughout. I was really happy both of my girls (and my parents (and my aunt, who came in from out of town. . . it was apparently, fuck-with-Jim's-perception-of-what-Daddy/Daughter-Day-means-Day (which is so awkward it will NEVER make your calendar))) could be with me. Some of the guilt melted away and I said I was sorry and gave Leslie a hug (wait. . . did I, Les?) and I said I was sorry to Lily and gave her a big hug (which she squirmed out of) and then we all went to my parent's house and ate dinner. It was a great night. And maybe I learned a lesson?

Because. . .

I took a page from Leslie's playbook. Probably she didn't even know. I just know it was cute watching her play the paranoid skeptic. The executive secretary at my company called me and said, "Jim, I just drew your name for four Pirate tickets for Thursday's game against the Astros. Do you want the tickets?"

The week was already pretty busy. Emma was just finishing one softball tournament and beginning practice for another. Leslie had appointments, I had appointments. . . "Let me call my wife and see."

The long and the short of it was that we could do it, and I wanted to take Lily to her first Pirate game. Emma had been to several. I thought, "If she can watch Emma play softball, she can go to PNC Park for her first game."

Leslie shoe-horned (in typical fashion) one additional agenda item that I was willing to completely blow off prior to the game, but the minute she got home we took off with a cooler of freezepops, bottled water and ice.

We parked after an initial stress frenzy realizing that I had no cash ended with a sympathetic parking attendant letting us in the parking garage and giving me directions to a cash machine next door. We walked to the park, had our bags searched, then took the escalator to the main level to find our seats. They were good seats, along the third base side, and we sat down, and were doing okay. . . at first. Lily didn't want to sit, but because the seats we were in were the company seats, they were right in the thick of things. Lots of people around, and Lily was having a tough time keeping her hands to herself. She was also standing. And even though she's just a little spud, it made me feel uncomfortable that we were blocking the view of the people behind us.




Our seats at the start of the game. . .

The man whose sweaty hairy back Lily would slap occasionally. 
Two innings into the game, Leslie pointed with a disgusted laugh at a giant section of completely empty seats further along the third base line, toward the outfield. Maybe she meant it all along, but I said, "You want to move there?" She said yes, and at the end of the inning we gathered our stuff and moved.






It was a completely deserted section, but a seat attendant approached us and asked if we had tickets. I started to explain the situation. . . "no, we actually have seats over there." and pointed to our seats, "but our little one here is having problems with the cro-" and he interrupted me with a smiling shake of his head and said, "It's okay. . . I have to ask. You sit here as long as you like as long as the seat holders don't show up to claim the seat." I was so grateful because Lily was already fine again. Leslie sat two or three seats away from me, and Lily just roamed back and forth between the two of us, looking up at the scoreboard and saying, "What his name?" whenever the next batter's image would display.

Sooo much happier with a little elbow room.

My girls. . . wait. . . where's Lily?
"That's Andrew McCutchen," I told her.

"Cutchen," she replied.

"Yeah!"

"What his name?" Sauerkraut Saul. . . A racing pierogie. 

It was a hot night, and the person who had the least fun was probably Emma. She was sort of stuck on the outside and didn't really get to sit next to anyone but Leslie, who IS TOTALLY FUN, DON'T GET ME WRONG! But she didn't get to sit by me or Lily, just by virtue of our makeshift play pen that ironically kept Lily from going stir crazy.
It almost looks like she's watching the game here. . . 

We made it to the seventh inning stretch, and probably could have made it longer, but it was already an hour and half past Lily's bed time, and we still had to walk to the car and drive back home. It was, however, an absolute success. Lily had fun. . . granted, it was the same sort of fun she might have had at home, but I felt really good about having not skipped over something fun just because we were 'afraid' that Lily couldn't handle it.

There were certainly things I learned from the visit, things like the things we learned from the movie visits. . . sit in the back, go to theaters that aren't crowded, have relatives sit in front of us so if Lily gets grabby, it's family she's grabbing. . . only for the ballpark. I learned that Lily is a little afraid of escalators, that she needs to sit in an area that isn't too crowded, and that we should always have lots of freeze pops.

Sometime around the end of the evening, Lily spotted the Pirate Parrot and she started ceaselessly requesting to "I want pet green!" That was more or less when we decided to leave and I said, "Let's go to the car and find green!" and she happily popped up and held hands up the steps and over the escalator.

Emma suffered some guilty pangs about this and said, "But isn't that lying? The parrot isn't at the car."

"We can look for it on the way. It's just not likely we'll find it."

She looked at me a little skeptically, but didn't object to this.

On the way out of the park, Lily was FREAKED OUT, by a giant statue of Willie Stargell. I had Emma go give it a hug to see if that would show Lily it was nothing to be afraid of, but she was very leery of the giant metal man.


It was a great night at the park together as a family. Nobody got left behind and everyone had fun. Mostly.


47 comments:

  1. Aw, good for you! Good for all of you!

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  2. I feel like I should wish Leslie a belated Happy Father's Day - after all she's so inspirational! ;)

    Awesome that the movie and the ballgame went so well. I love your honesty. And I must say that while I might have tried a movie - a 9 inning ball game is way more than I would try but now... who know the inspiration passes on. Yay!

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    1. The great part was the tickets were free, so some of the budgetary stress of trying to "get your money's worth" out of $120 worth of tickets was relieved. We really felt like we could leave whenever we wanted, so there was a lot less stress. We left after the 7th inning, but we could have left earlier and I'd have been happy that it was a successful trip.

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  3. Maybe your best dad move was picking the right girl to get in the trenches with :)

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    1. that was more of a . . . "mate" move, I think.

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  4. Yay for all of this and for all of you. I completely commiserate with not liking plans changing at the last minute. I'm a planner. When things change, I get SO CRABBY. I get that. 100%.

    How was "Brave?" I really need to get to the theater to see it, but you know I'll probably put that off until it's gone and then have to wait for DVD like I do with everything.

    I so want to go to a baseball game someday. I need to find someone who cares enough about baseball to go with me, but not enough that my incessant talking would drive them crazy and distract them and make them want to stab me in the eye with a foam finger.

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    1. Foam fingers are okay to get stabbed in the eye with. Doesn't even hurt.

      Brave was good. I really liked it. I didn't LOVE it. But I really liked it. Most people disagree with my rankings of Pixar movies, but it's probably something like this:

      1) Wall-E (just amazed how much emotion and interest they generated with 40 dialogueless minutes.
      2) Incredibles (I love superheros, but the dialogue in the movie was amazing)
      3) Nemo (but just by a nod)
      4 a,b,c) Brave, Up, Ratatouille
      7) Toy Story
      8) Monster's Inc
      9) Cars
      10) Bug's Life

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    2. Ooh, I want to rate stuff. That's my favorite. I haven't seen them all, though. Also, you totally left out all the sequels. Don't sequels count?

      Nemo
      Up
      Toy Story 3
      Toy Story
      Wall-E
      Cars
      Toy Story 2
      Incredibles
      Monsters Inc.
      A Bug's Life

      (I haven't seen Brave, Ratatouille, or Cars 2. Well, I saw a little of Ratatouille. But rats in a kitchen grossed me out too much to hold my interest. I know. I'm a total weirdo.)

      I think it's obvious from this list I rank my Pixar cartoons by how hard they made me cry. That's probably not how you're supposed to do this. (No, wait, that's not true. Up and TS3 made me cry harder than Nemo. I just love Nemo more than just about any cartoon in the history of the world. I've probably watched it 50 times.)

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    3. Sequels don't count. They're all part of the "franchise". . . so Toy Story is the cumulative ranking of the entire franchise. That's just the way it must be. . . if you're going to wreck the legacy of a fantastic movie with a shitty sequel, then you need to be prepared to take a hit to the overall reputation of the movie. And vice versa. . . the initial Star Wars movie was amazing. . . sequels not so much.

      50 times, Amy? Only 50? There was a time when we'd hit the restart button on Nemo as soon as "Somewhere, beyond the sea, somewhere, waiting for me. . . " started in the background. Light a chain smoker lighting the next cigarette with the cherry of the one he's finishing. . . but. . . we skipped the scene where Nemo's mom dies. Every time. To this day, I'm not positive Emma knows that Nemo ever had a mom or a bunch of brothers and sisters, or why he has a lucky fin. Nemo is awesome.

      Up is an amazing movie for the first 45 minutes. . . then it tails off.

      Incredibles doesn't make you cry, but. . . oh. . . how about this! I went to college with the girl who does the voice of Violet. She's now a famous author. I made her cry in class one day! You may even have read her books, they're supposed to be fantastic! I once blogged an apology to her. . . maybe I'll dust it off and post it to my other blog so you can peruse it.

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    4. I can't...even...I *might* have read some of Sarah Vowell's books? MIGHT? I'm seriously dying right now of death. Please please please PLEASE post that. I ADORE her. (You made her CRY????)

      I don't have kids, so 50 is a lot of times watching a cartoon for a single woman, don't you think?

      I kind of agree about Up...but that beginning! And the talking dog! They make the movie for me. I can't rank appropriately, apparently. That beginning sequence of Up won me over and I was sold. Then the talking dog came in with his "I was hiding under your porch because I love you" and SO MANY TEARS. *sniff*

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    5. Yeah. . . apparently. I didn't actually see it, but a couple friends told me about it later. We had an honors English class together. I'll post it in a couple minutes. I just have to find it.

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  5. Everyone gets pissy once in a while, for no good reason. As long as we see the light later, and apologize where apologies are due, right?

    Did you see Brave in 3D? If so, how did Lily handle that? I always have issues the first few minutes with eye-brain adjustment, because of the optics.

    I'm not really into baseball, but sounds like you had a great time. Hockey might be more to Lily's liking. More action. (Just sayin'.)

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    1. No, once Lily entered the equation, I figured 3D glasses were out the window.

      More action, but in Pittsburgh, WAY more crowded, and also the seats are angled steeply from row to row. . . too scary. She actually DOES like watching hockey. High contrast of white ice with the darker players, lots of action. . .

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  6. I'm glad that Father's Day turned out so well. I think it's terrific that Lily could sit through Brave! We have yet to sit through an entire movie...but we have hope.

    We have also found that we can enjoy large events as long as we move to the periphery..hmm...there's a metaphor there...but any way, the pictures from the game looked great. Glad you took a chance!

    So, Lily was creeped out by a large metal statue and not a dancing pierogie?! Interesting...

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    1. she LOVES the pierogies and the parrots and anything in a furry costume.

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  7. Glad you and your family had a nice day Jim.
    My Leslie is named Bruce. He is so matter of fact sometimes about going places that it pisses me off! But, sometimes he is right- please dont tell him I said that.
    I really am thankful for the bloggers out in virtual space that have come before me. Our Maddie is 4 1/2 and has a 'typical' older sister Abby who is 6. I really struggle with the lack of family time- all of us together doing something, ANYTHING. Abby is often so jealous that she divides and conquers and Maddie just doesnt participate. We have small glimpses every now and then which are treasured. It gives me hope to read that days like yours are possible. Not perfect, just possible! Thanks again Jim. (and Leslie)

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    1. Emma gets very sad when we don't spend time together as a family. She helps us push the envelope too because she gets sad that Lily has to stay behind. She's really a great big sister that way! Thank you for reading!

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  8. I don't like plans changed at the last minute and my visions of how things will go to be disturbed, either. And I always feel like an ass when I react badly to changes. "The more the merrier" will never escape my lips. But, I often enjoy whatever changes/last minute whatevers - which makes me mad I wasted the emotional energy. I'd say someday I'll learn, but...

    Anyway, I'm glad your two outings turned out so well!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie! I'm usually the same about being dragged places that I'm absolutely positive I'll hate. . . then have a good time. . . grudgingly.

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  9. Oh, Jim. My first thought was, "Every family needs a Leslie." My second thought was "I'm horrible at reacting to changes to my plans" sounds very familiar for those of us who know people on the spectrum. ;-) My third thought is I'm so glad that this worked out well, giant metal man notwithstanding.

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    1. well. . . the giant metal man was interesting too, honestly. She was walking out of the park and just sort of STOPPED and would go no closer to it. He's huge and imposing and it did frighten her for sure. We walked around him and she was fine. Just wanted nothing to do with Willie Stargell!

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  10. If I have envisioned something in my head, I get pretty pouty too when it doesn't turn out like I expected or hoped. Certain plans have to be made for Cinderella or adjusted around her and Manfriend's parenting schedule and I sometimes find myself crabby about it, even though I realize that it isn't anybody's fault. So hard to get out of a pouting funk once you're in it. I'm glad it all worked out. Your girls are sure cute.
    I liked Brave for the mother/daughter storyline. When I was a teen, I was rather nasty to my mom and even ripped a favorite quilt of her's that her aunt had made because we had a disagreement. The story sort of hit home for that reason. I also appreciated the lack of the usual prince saving the princess or being her key to happiness plot line. I think Disney was probably trying to make a female lead who wouldn't get trashed by all the mothers out there. The lack of evil stepmother was appreciated also.

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    1. I didn't even notice. Leslie pointed it out to me after the movie. She said, "There was no 'love interest'." I think it means I'm highly evolved that I didn't notice the lack of love interest and was able to just root for Merida.

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  11. That is so great! You've inspired me. My son is a sucker for the fiddle (don't even get me started,) and the Charlie Daniels band is playing an outdoor concert here. I was torn about whether to take him, but I think we're going to just go for it!

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  12. Ditto the first part of Erica's comment for me. I too get a little grumpy-pantsed if things don't turn out the way I envision them. But I am pretty easy-going and can hide it fairly well. I don't think I sulk around like I'm sure you did ;)
    You two win parents of the year, for sure. FOR SURE. Favourite internet parents ever.
    And that statue is terrifying. I wouldn't go near it either. No, that's not true. There would probably be a picture of me with my hand on its crotch.

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    1. It sorta IS terrifying, isn't it? Willie Stargell is ENORMOUS! And he's got a damn bat!!

      He'd luck funny with the glasses though. . .

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  13. The change of plans thing is a temperament thing. My son and I are no people, we always say no to a new idea, then we think about it and we usually can say yes with a little time. It's getting those spontaneous people to plan ahead a little that is hard.
    Pushing the envelope isn't always easy, but it can be fun. I'm glad to hear you had a great time and that you found Lily's happy place. It looked like that would have been my happy place too, (as far from that sweaty hairy back as possible.)

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    1. I really have always thought of myself as spontaneous, but I'm starting to learn that I'm only spontaneous when *I* think of it. Otherwise I'm a "no person" too.

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  14. Hooray for you Brave Pirates! Argh!

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    1. Ahoy there, Andrea! Thanks fer yer comment, lass. Arrrr!

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  15. everyone is working successfully on their transitions it seems :)

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    1. Hahah. . . yeah. I have transition troubles too.

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  16. I love it. I'm a lot like you and imagine the worse and my husband is all, "Come on, it'll be fine." And yeah, we may have a few problems but it does work out. And I'm jealous. The last time we went to a Royals game we had some kick-arse seats and we wound up out the kid zone fondling a giant rotating baseball. ALL NIGHT. The kids had fun so I went with it. And took a ton of pictures.....that payback is going to be fun.

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    1. Adapted baseball game viewing. . . the plus side is the Royals games HAVE to be easy to get tickets for these days. . .

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  17. So late to the party on my comment!! It's so great that you had two successful outings w Lily. So great. And you grew a little too.

    I'm proud of you, grump.

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    1. late? Nah, you're right in the mix!

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  18. OUTSTANDING! It's great to have good family time like that.

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    1. Still stressful, but in hindsight, it was a rare treat.

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  19. I take this as a really long way to say that your wife is always right.

    But I could be wrong.

    I've explained to my husband many times, "if you would just listen to me in the first place, and stop thinking you know what you're doing..."

    Glad it all worked out well in the end!

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    1. all my posts are really long ways of saying "something". But you completely missed this one. She's wrong WAY more often than I am. . . but only about stuff that doesn't count.

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  20. I'm with Flannery - the wife is right. And you're very wordy when trying to justify your feelings... You know, just from the outside looking in. It's fun to psychoanalyze fellow bloggers! :)

    Also, I've been gone a while so I may have missed something but your font is very large. Don't get me wrong - I didn't need my glasses to read it which is a nice change from the norm. Just curious...

    And good news on the great family outing. Go Lily! And Jim!

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    1. justify my feelings? I said she was right. And brave. And that I was wrong. . . I'm really thinking at this point that you two just skim my posts because they're too long.

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  21. I think you should pat yourself on the back. Seriously. Amitting your issues with the fathers day situation is big. And I get your issues. I am glad that your wife stepped in and made sure the right things happened. Glad the baseball game outing was a success. Relocating to worse seats to a non-parent may seem foolish, but clearly it was the smart decision.

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    1. I pat myself on the back plenty. But thank you. she's a good egg.

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