Category Archives: Munchkin

The Good Guys Don’t Always Win


Sometimes the best intentions have unintended consequences. As I’ve mentioned, the youngest has had a hard time in her transition to “big girl soccer”, learning the different positions and their responsibilities. Master strategist that I am, I used a checkerboard and checkers to demonstrate where each player was supposed to be positioned. I explained that each goal was a castle, that some knight’s jobs were to guard the castle, others were to attack the bad guy’s castle. It seemed brilliant.

It seemed brilliant, but I had forgotten one of the best things about being six years old. The reasons she never gets upset at the cliffhanger endings to Supergirl, doesn’t get scared watching Star Wars or the new Thor movie ( very good by the way ).

She still believes that the good guys always win in the end.

It led to a bit of backtracking, that dance all parents are familiar with when we forget how literally a young child can take our words. I explained that the other team weren’t really “bad guys”, just girls from another town that were a bit older than her, a bit bigger and faster, had a bit more practice. The only time she was really angry during her win less season was actually after a scrimmage, a joint practice with the boys team that led to a temporary reevaluation of who ruled and who drooled.


big girl soccer
headed the right way


I’m often jealous of that perspective, that view of the world where the good and bad guys are so clearly delineated.

The real world is so much different, so much more complicated. It’s a bleak landscape of grey, subtle differences in shade open to the interpretation of the viewer. It’s been a full year since the election and we remain a country that is still trying to ignore this reality. Two sides each convinced that they are the good guys, politicians trying to appease fringe bases while those in the ideological middle, those that just want everybody to get along and be nice to each other, are ignored.


the good guys dont always win
sign of the times


She enjoyed this soccer season. She played hard, had fun. She learned sportsmanship and dignity in defeat, all the things that make youth sports great. We would have liked to have won a game, but I guess there is a lesson there as well.

Sometimes the best intentions have unintended consequences. Sometimes hard work and effort aren’t going to be enough. The good guys don’t always win.


Thor: Ragnarok is full of conflicted characters. Other than the titular hero and Hela, the Goddess of Death, (spoiler alert: she’s the bad guy) everyone else is flawed but ultimately make the right choices.

Maybe that’s what I should be teaching her. That in the end the most important thing is trying her best, trying to do the right thing as she determines it. To recognize the grey but to remain optimistic that in the end there is enough good in people that things are going to be OK. That there are many more Lokis out there than Thors but the good guys still win enough that we can never stop fighting.

It works in the movies.




My Random Musings

Revenge of The Sleep Walker


It’s getting to be that time of year again. The Halloween decorations have been brought up from the basement, I’m halfway through Steven King’s latest short story collection and there is a new season of American Horror Story on television. Scary movies have been in regular rotation and I introduced the teenager to The Evil Dead films. Last week my wife and I attended Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, a very cool experience for those that enjoy that type of thing, and I’m back to annoying my family by hiding this spider in various areas of the house.


I actually do this year round


The joke’s been on me, however.  None of these attempts at frightening myself or others have come close to the creepiness of a sleepwalking six year old suddenly discovered late at night when you think you are the only person awake, a glace across the couch finding a sitting figure long since thought to be asleep, empty eyes glazed over and vacant.


Sleep walking
no idea how long she was sitting next to me


It’s a condition called somnambulism, one that I’d heard of but had no idea was actually a pretty rare disorder, had no idea that it was actually considered a disorder. Affecting 1-15% of the population, but more common in children ages 3-8, sleepwalkers do exactly what the name says, usually within an hour or two of falling asleep, eyes open and creepy looking, no memory after the fact of their wanderings.

Sleepwalking seems to be hereditary, though nobody else in either of our families does it. There is a higher instance in bed wetters and those that experience night terrors but neither of those apply. She doesn’t appear stressed or anxious, isn’t on any medications or suffering chronic fevers. I smell her breath before bed to make sure that her teeth have been brushed so I’m fairly confident she isn’t going to bed intoxicated.

It just seems to be a weird little quirk, something that we make people aware of now when she sleeps elsewhere. Apologies to those that got a bit freaked out by her before we realized how often it was happening.

Like me, she’s a big fan of the season, her “traps” and “tricks” growing more sophisticated each Halloween. It’s almost a shame that her most successful frights, the times when I nearly do jump out of my skin, happen when she doesn’t remember them.


the sleepwalker cometh
ghostly visitor


Big Girl Soccer


Astute readers of my last post chronicling a day of arguments with my daughter may have noticed a gap, nothing documented between 3:25 and 6:00 PM. If that was you I’ll commend your attention to detail but caution you not to assume that meant a break, a few hours passed without having somebody contradict every word that I uttered. She remained just as contrary, the difference during this time was that I actually agreed with her.

For the past three years Alaina has been involved in something called “mini-kickers,” and introduction to soccer that she enjoyed immensely. She learned some basic dribbling skills, was taught not to pick the ball up with her hands, and provided us with some really adorable pictures.


big girl soccer
cuteness overload


What she didn’t do is learn a whole lot about the actual game of soccer. This is completely understandable, throwing a single ball into a group of children that age an invitation to nothing but tears for all involved, but has made for a slightly shaky start to her promotion to “big girl soccer.”

Big Girl Soccer, the U8 league, has rules. It has positions, two nights a week of practice, games against other towns on Saturday afternoons and a no-nonsense coach that actually understands the game. HasCon caused us to start a week late, dance lessons conflict with Friday practice and rain has led to cancellations on Wednesday nights. It’s made catching up challenging.

This past Wednesday was one of those rainy cancellations. When told of this Alaina naturally disagreed, stating that she needed the practice and that it really wasn’t raining very hard.

So we went, spending a wet hour alone at the field. We spent some time on drills, more time on positional responsibilities and learning the actual rules of the game, basics that in retrospect I should have been more proactive about teaching.


big girl soccer
wet, but working hard


It’s still a work in progress. Today was another game, her second, and it was a frustrating hour for our side, a lopsided loss. Alaina played hard and showed a better grasp of what was expected of her but still confided afterward that doesn’t know what she is supposed to be doing most of the time.

It was a surprising admission, a humbleness that she doesn’t often display and a sign of maturity that I didn’t expect.

She had fun and was outside getting exercise, the two main goals of youth sports, but I also like the other lessons that she learns. Lessons about teamwork and the importance of working hard in order to improve. Her competitiveness can be a bit much sometimes but I love this kid’s tenacity, her willingness to practice in the rain, her effort. She may not always be running in the correct direction, but she’s running hard.





If I Said Day, She’d Say Night


My six year old is one of the most self-confident, strong-willed people that I have ever met. Phrased slightly differently, but just as accurately, she is one of the most stubborn, argumentative people that I have ever met. Which description I use can vary from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. The line between pride and exasperation sometimes a thin one.

Other days, days such as today, I’m convinced that she is consciously disagreeing with everything that I say in an effort to drive me completely insane.


7:00 AM – Refused to believe that it was actually time to get up, citing as evidence a plastic coo coo clock rescued from her grandmother’s basement that has been stuck at 10:00 since the early 1990’s.

7:15 AM – Demanded cereal with milk for breakfast instead of the waffle and strawberries that were on her plate. When informed that we were out of milk she insisted that coffee creamer was a perfectly adequate substitute.

7:30 AM – Decided that she liked this outfit for school much better than the more reasonable one that we had agreed to before bed the night prior.


7:45 AM –  Didn’t think that it was cold enough to warrant wearing a sweatshirt. As I had just come inside after giving the dog a quick potty break, there was obviously no way for me to be sure what the current weather conditions were.

7:48 AM – She told me black socks don’t match with blue sneakers and refused to wear them.

8:00 AM – Spent the entire ride to school arguing about the lyrics to Adele’s “Water Under the Bridge”, a song she was singing very loudly in the backseat. In retrospect I should have let this one go. I’m not convinced I have them right either, but I’m pretty sure “say it ain’t so” is the only line that she had correct.


3:15 PM- Still didn’t think it was cold enough for a sweatshirt despite a steady rain falling.

3:25 PM – Tried to convince me that we were going to run out of gas and have to walk home if we didn’t stop at the station, preferable the one where the attendant always gives her a lollipop.

6:00 PM – Didn’t want chicken breast, wanted “chicken on the bone.” Couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t go buy some.

6:30 PM – Needed to rearrange the silverware drawer because I “had it all wrong.”

7:00 PM – Declared herself perfectly capable of running her own bath and washing her own hair. Deeply insulted that I didn’t trust her enough to let her try, threatened to not speak to me for the rest of the evening.

7:10 PM – Asked for a snack. Didn’t like her choices.

7:30 PM – Didn’t understand why she couldn’t have The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as her bedtime story. She likes dragons, likes tattoos, is big enough to not need picture books anymore. At this point I’m just assuming that she is messing with me.

8:00 PM – Its not fair that she has to sleep in her own bed. Our bed is much more comfortable and she wakes up much earlier in it. Not helping your cause any with that one, kid.


8:15 PM – “You’re not thirsty, and no, you can’t have a sip of daddy’s drink.”




The Real Inclusiveness of the Girl Scouts


Although I have lots of great memories from my time as a young Boy Scout, the organization isn’t quite held in the same high position of public esteem that is used to be. Once known as a place for young men to learn knot tying and manners, it’s policies prohibiting atheists and legal battles to retain it’s right to ban homosexuals from it’s ranks have left a tarnish on the Rockwellian picture of young scouts extending their arms to elderly women at crosswalks and performing daily “good deeds.” The ban was lifted in 2015 and earlier this year the BSA announced that transgender boys would be allowed participation but for many the idea that they fought so hard to resist inclusiveness has caused a withdrawal of support for Scouting.


summer camp, 1985


The Girl Scouts have never had such a policy, openly supporting LGBT rights and stating that “our mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.” Like much in modern, fractured America, for every liberal demanding the the Boy Scouts no longer be able to camp on federal or municipal land there is a conservative calling for a cookie boycott.


Inclusiveness in scouting
proud Daisy Scout


As happy as I am to involve my daughter with an organization that actively promotes fairness and equality, I’ll confess that it’s another example of their inclusiveness that has impressed me the most – their willingness to include me. From roller skating outings to hikes in the woods, every time that I tagged along I was welcomed warmly.

Should I have been surprised? Probably not. Dads everywhere are more involved in their children’s lives, in their daughters’ lives, than every before. In many cases it is only through the efforts of fathers that these young girls would be able to participate.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but sadly I was. As far as society has come in recognizing that dads are a just as important  component of parenthood as mothers, there are still instances such as the one in Lakeland, Florida where a man trying to help a lost little girl find her parents was subsequently beaten and vilified for his efforts. A man at the playground is still looked at suspiciously, his motives questioned, a potential predator or kidnapper until proven otherwise.

As this post is scheduled to go live Alaina’s troop will be settling into their sleeping bags, preparing for their first camping overnight. Unfortunately, she will not be there, my wife and I both at work. As much as we trust the leaders and chaperones that would be tucking her in, Alaina has recently developed a new penchant for sleepwalking, nocturnal wanderings that it seemed unfair to burden others with in the middle of the woods.

She was disappointed, angry even, but placated by assurances that there would be plenty more of these trips and that one of us would be sure to plan our schedule accordingly.

It’s a promise that I’m happy the Girl Scouts will allow me to keep. According to their rules, men are welcome to stay overnight as long as they have a separate tent and bathroom area.

How this will differ from the trees and fallen logs that we used as bathrooms when I was a Scout is yet to be determined, but good for the Girl Scouts for recognizing how much more enjoyable a walk in the woods can be when everybody is allowed to go.


the inclusiveness of girl scouts