Category Archives: Munchkin

Dressing to Impress – Herself

 

I was a bit nervous sending my daughter off to school this morning. Not for the reasons you might think given the latest school tragedy, I’ll be addressing that in due course once I’ve had time to process it a bit more, but because I was afraid of what my wife was going to say when she saw how I had allowed her to leave the house.

 

dressed to impress
short sleeve over a long sleeve, why not?

 

She’s always been fiercely independent, her first complex sentence uttered being “I’ll do it myself!” It’s a quality that is equal parts impressive and frustrating. It’s encouraged as much as is reasonable but the fact is, there is actually very little that she is able to choose for herself. The amount of autonomy enjoyed at six years old is pretty much limited to what brand of cereal you want for breakfast and what crafts you want to make a mess of while daddy is watching sports.

So I try and let her pick her own outfits and hairstyles, offering suggestions and trusting that there really isn’t a lot in her wardrobe that is going to be too cringe worthy of a combination. She really didn’t need one but we went for a haircut this past weekend, sent her with a ponytail sticking straight up on her head one day, red spray dye staining her scalp on Valentine’s Day.

 

Dressed to impress
not sure what she wanted cut, but whatever

 

Her teacher thinks she’s cute, refers to her as a “modern day Punky Brewster”, a character from a mid-80’s sitcom that I was somewhat surprised she was old enough to reference. For those of you not familiar, the titular child is a clever, spunky foster child with a penchant for very brightly colored clothing and vibrant self expression.

It’s also that self expression that I want to encourage, that confidence. It won’t be that many years before outside influences are going to start to challenge the way that she looks at herself, pressures to dress and and to look a certain way. The time to build a wall against the potential impact of these is now, to make sure that she continues to feel like the only person that she needs to impress, the only opinion that matters regarding her appearance is her own.

Imagine how liberating it must be to always think that you look good, to never have it cross your mind to worry about or even consider the judgments of others.

She won’t be hearing any different from me.

 

 

 

Playing to Win

 

There really isn’t a lot of variety in our morning routine around here. I get up at 6:50 to start the coffee and begin shaking out the cobwebs. Alaina wanders downstairs around ten after, dressed and ready for the breakfast that’s usually just about ready. I pack her lunch as she eats, prod her upstairs for teeth brushing and off we go for the ten minute drive across town. Once there we take our place in line, she moves to the front seat while we idle, and we play tic tac toe until it’s her turn to disembark and head inside.

 

 

If you are thinking that playing six to ten rounds of tic tac toe every morning for the past several months sounds extremely boring you are absolutely correct. There is very little variation in the moves that can be executed and as long as both parties are paying even moderate attention to the game, very rarely is there a winner. It’s a good way to prepare her for the long day of focus and concentration ahead. To remind her to think before she acts.

It also drives her insane, much to my amusement. I always give her the first move and even though she’s realized by now that by marking the center square to begin the match it’s almost impossible for her to lose this isn’t always good enough for her. At least once every morning she tries to mix things up and catch me off guard with an alternate strategy, refusing to believe that the only way to win is to play defensively and hope that your opponent makes an unforced error due to a lapse in observation.

It will be interesting to see if she retains this mindset as we graduate to more advanced strategy games. We’ve started playing some Connect 4 and checkers and I look forward to teaching her chess and backgammon. Whether it’s on one of these boards, an athletic field or life in general, I’ve always preferred a more measured, defensive approach, waiting for an opportunity to counter punch or take advantage of other’s mistakes. More Tyrion Lannister than Jaime.

It hasn’t always worked. There are times when fortune does indeed favor the bold, when a direct snap to a running back and a tight end pass to the quarterback makes a coach look brilliant.

Brilliant because the play was successful. There is a fine line between playing a game conservatively and hoping to win and playing a game trying not to lose, a time to attack and a time to retreat. I’ll teach her as best as I can, but fear that I haven’t always chosen wisely. I think that maybe there have been too many times over the course of my life that I have been content to settle for the tie, that opportunity has occasionally passed by because of hesitance. That once again maybe there are things that I could learn from her.

 


 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

The Case of the Nail Polish Thief

 

This past weekend was one filled with more drama than I care to normally be a part of. There were tears, tantrums, sibling rivalries and several teachable moments where absolutely nothing was learned. In other words, it was a fairly typical weekend.

It was a theft that had ignited the fires this time around. The six year old completely irate because she had become convinced that her older sister had stolen the new nail polish gift pack that had been a present from my mother this past Christmas. The alleged perpetrator wasn’t home to defend herself, her return not guaranteed anytime soon, so without any real inclination to investigate further I simply assumed that the gift pack had been misplaced and informed her that she was going to have to get over it until such a time as the polish resurfaced. Case closed.

Alaina found this to be a completely unsatisfactory resolution. She had been wronged and she demanded restitution. She demanded justice.

To a child the solution was simple: she would simply steal things from Kayla’s room until such time as she decided that they were even.

Naturally this wasn’t allowed, two wrongs not making a right and all that nonsense that we are supposed to be teaching them.

She stole some deodorant and was given a talk. She stole the Twilight book series and was given a lecture. She stole a candle and was given a warning. When she tried to hide her sister’s guitar behind her bed I took a picture, for evidence naturally, and gave myself a timeout while I laughed at the absurdity of the situation and marveled at her stubbornness in the face of an increasingly aggravated daddy.

 

the nail polish theif
extremely well hidden

 

Eventually I did what I should have done right from the beginning. I walked into the teen’s room, looked around for approximately three seconds and found the nail polish. I neither know nor care how it found itself there to begin with but will give Alaina credit for at least appearing sheepish when asked why she didn’t just take that on one of her multiple raiding missions.

I wish I could say there was at least some sort of lesson learned here. Not to jump to assumptions about the guilt of another, the lack of satisfaction found in revenge, the real life societal costs of the vigilantism celebrated in today’s comic book cultural takeover.

Instead we just got pretty purple nails.

 

the nail polish thief
cant win them all

 

 

 

25 Questions Revisited

 

Nothing very deep here today I’m afraid, just taking a break from math homework. I’m not sure if this is the “new math” that I’ve heard so much about, a new way to introduce basic principles, or if I’m just not as bright as I was thirty six years ago, but I’m getting a headache.

Instead we played reporter, a interview with a movie star that I first conducted back in June of 2015.  It’s been making the Facebook rounds again so I thought I’d see how her answers had changed.

 

25 questions revisited

 

What is something that daddy always says to you?
Then: I love you
Now: I love you too.
Apparently she says it first more often now.

What makes daddy happy?
Then: When he plays with me and gives me fruitsnacks
Now: When I say “I love you.”

What makes daddy sad?
Then: When I jump on him
Now: Nothing
Glad that she thinks that. Also, that she jumps on me a lot less.

How does daddy make you laugh?
Then: Giving me stuff, like smoothies
Now: telling jokes

What was daddy like as a child?
Then: He liked smoothies too
Now:  How should I know?
Bit of a smarty pants now.

How old is daddy?
Then: 14
Now: 25
I do feel like I’ve aged nine years in the last two.

How tall is daddy?
Then: to the tippity top
Now: 32 inches.
Seems I’ve shrunk a bit

What is daddy’s favorite thing to do?
Then: Dishes
Now: Go to the park.
I feel like I spend more time doing dishes than at the park

What does daddy do while you’re at school?
Then: Goes to the gym
Now: Goes to the gym
You’d think I’d be in a lot better shape

If daddy became famous, what would it be for?
Then: Nothing
Now: Being a good X-Ray guy.
I’ll take it

What is daddy really good at?
Then: Doing tricks and hula hooping
Now: Washing dishes and folding laundry
Told you I did a lot of dishes

What is daddy not very good at?
Then: Going on the slide.
Now: Being scared
I think that I would be scared of getting stuck in the slide

What does daddy do for a job?
Then: Dishes
Now: X-Ray

What is daddy’s favorite food?
Then: Chinese food
Now: Beef jerky

What makes you proud of daddy?
Then: Hula hooping
Now: That he helps people at his job and keeps me safe
I don’t think I’ve ever actually hula hooped

What cartoon character is daddy like?
Then: The Hulk
Now: The Hulk
Fair enough

What do you and daddy do together?
Then: Laundry
Now: watch superhero shows

How are you and daddy the same?
Then: We both have ears
Now: Our eyes and hair are the same color

How are you and daddy different?
Then: We have different toes. Mine are painted
Now: He has to shave so he doesn’t grow a beard

How do you know daddy loves you?
Then: He says “I love you”
Now: He buys me stuff
Not too sure about that one

What does daddy like best about mommy?
Then: She’s so beautiful
Now: She’s beautiful

What does mommy like best about daddy?
Then: He buys flowers
Now: He’s handsome

What is daddy’s favorite place to go?
Then: To work
Now: The movies with me

How old was daddy when you were born?
Then: A grown up
Now: How should I remember
A valid question

What’s your favorite thing about daddy?
Then: He loves me
Now: That he’s handsome

 

 

Early Morning Lessons in Political Correctness

 

In my last post I opened with a bit of a humble brag about my daughter’s ability to amuse herself for a time on weekend mornings, a few words about how I’d come to appreciate the ability to sleep past the first rays of sunshine a few days a week. Naturally this immediately came back to bite me in the ass, as only a few days after hitting publish I came downstairs to be greeted by this early morning surprise:

 

the trouble with books?
the face you make when you realize thats permanent marker

 

Was she trying out a new superhero look, emulating her favorite professional wrestler, or adding some camouflage before another attempt at scaring the crap out of me by hiding behind the computer desk?

Unfortunately, all no. She was trying to look like an “Indian Chief.”

Uh, oh.

The culprit for this episode of crass cultural appropriation was identified quickly, a Peter Pan book that we had read a few nights earlier. I had cringed at the time, set it aside for future “recycling” alongside a Skippyjon Jones book that I still can’t figure out if it is racist or not, and thought nothing more of it. Another reminder that not everything in the huge collection of hand me down and tag sale books that we have accumulated has aged particularly well.

I’ve always tried to be somewhat cautious in the degree of political correctness that I embrace. I think most of us will agree that it was a good idea that Speedy Gonzalez and the skunk running around Paris trying to rape the painted kitty were retired but I have a hard time taking seriously the idea that G I Joe furthered  the agenda of the military industrial complex perpetuated by Reagan’s obsession with winning the Cold War. If the worst thing that our children are subjected to on a typical Saturday morning is the fat shaming of Daddy Pig by his family then I think that is progress that should be celebrated.

It made for an oddly difficult conversation, my attempts at explaining why we shouldn’t color our faces with permanent marker more successful than those trying to convince her that actual Native Americans might become upset about her pretending to be one of them or seeing the manner in which they were depicted in her book.

How much good I did is debatable but it was a good reminder that teachable moments can be upon us at any time. Also that I should probably spend some time going through all these old books we have lying around and hide the markers.