Monday, December 10, 2007

soft gooey center

If you haven't spent extended periods of time with Kate, you might have only seen her hard candy shell. She's overly confident, stubborn, at times defiant, and absolutely fearless. She can give you the cold shoulder or the evil eye, and her favorite word is "no," which she doesn't yell out, but rather states in understated finality.

Me: Kate, can I have a kiss?
Kate (quietly, while staring off at something far more important): no.

Kate attends a Kids' Day Out program, where her teachers call her a "pistol" and try to keep her from doing crazy things like slide down the big slide face first or climb to the top of the bookshelf and use it as a balance beam. It's not uncommon for her to come home with bumps or scars from her own mishaps. The other day I drove through the Starbucks drive through, and when Kate heard the voice ask, "can I get you anything else?" she yelled out from the back seat, "Milk, please!" After I pulled up and was only given my coffee, she screamed at the worker, "MILK, PLEASE!"

Kate reminds me of Cheri Elliott, a childhood friend who never met a challenge or adventure she couldn't tackle head-on. Trust me when I say such a comparison is the highest compliment, though more than a little frightening as a father.

But every toddler superhero has her kryptonite. Take a soft, fuzzy object, like a stuffed animal, and place it against her cheek. Her eyes will close and her right thumb will slowly make its way into her mouth, seemingly against her will. Take the stuffed animal away and she'll run off and do something else, but return it to her cheek and she stops what she's doing to melt into the heavenly fuzziness. If Kate's not within sight and I can't hear her, she's either getting into something she's not supposed to or she's having a private moment with something fuzzy. She cuddles up to Megan's furry coat sleeve. She sucks her thumb while laying next to our dog Scout. She's even been found cuddling a dryer sheet.

She may act tough, but she can't hide the truth that her hard candy shell hides a soft gooey center.


Anonymous said...

Only 11 days and a 700 mile drive until we get to spend sometime with Kate and her soft gooey center! I'm hoping she'll give me some snuggle time....and also that we can do some dancing. We are all four looking forward to seeing you Bittles.
-Traci Piazza

Joel Bittle said...

Wear something fuzzy to get some snuggle time. I'm betting after a 700 mile drive we'll only see the hard candy shell of Davis and Elena (and Jim!)

Michelle - Mtn View Mommy said...

That is actually exactly how I picture Kate - but a little more gooey that you can imagine. I picture her holding Justin's hand. I picture her sitting on your lap at your desk. I picture her holding the flowers that the boys presented to her ... and then comes the hard shell.... she threw them on the ground. ahhhh Katie, I love you.

Shannon Schulte said...

I check in every once in a while because I totally enjoy how similar most of your stories sound to ours. This time you could absolutely be describing my Lucy too. She has quite the same affinity for "no" and climbing! I'd love to get the little trouble makers together sometime!

Ed said...

Joel & Megan-
Michelle Labrador sent me your blog address, and I have been reading bits and pieces of your life! I love it- so when are you going to turn it book and send it off to a publisher?
Next time I am in St. Louis, I would love to track you down and catch up! said...


My name is Scott Lancaster from we are a global online interactive forum for fathers based in New Zealand.

I was hoping that you might be interested in sharing content, we would link back to your site with your name on our site.

Also would you be interested in doing a podcast interview via telephone?

Let me know if this is possible I look forward to hearing from you

My return email is

Regards Scott