May 28, 2010

Raising a woman, not a girl

I arrive at 5:15 on a Friday afternoon. A three-day weekend looms and the preschool is decidedly empty compared to most afternoons. The remaining kids are out on the playground and I head out to greet Swee’Pea and TheMonk.

Swee’Pea sees me first and races towards me. About half-way there, however, she is distracted by a boy in her class. This boy, Jack, is also a twin but I only know him as a boy who likes to wrestle his brother to the ground and likes to sing the chorus to Queen’s We Will Rock You. As Swee’Pea passes him she throws on the breaks and heads over to give him a hug. I take note of this and, possibly, give Jack my most fatherly stank-eye practiced to-date.

As we head out to the car, I ask Swee’Pea about Jack. “Do you like playing with Jack, Swee’Pea?”

“Yes,” she replies. “I’m going to marry Jack.”

I casually reach up and push my eyeballs back into their sockets before I calmly ask, “Did you say Marry, Swee’Pea?”

“Yes.” she replies. And, then, she adds the dagger to my heart. “I’m serious, Daddy. I’m going to marry him.”

I get into the drivers seat of my car as we continue the conversation. I’m curious so I inquire why she likes this Jack so much.

“I like to play with him, Daddy.” She tells me.

I say, “That’s nice, Swee’Pea. But remember, boys who play with you have to treat you nicely. They have to be nice to you all the time. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Daddy.” She dutifully replies.

And it seems she did understand. Later that evening, over dinner, I recount our conversation for Mommy’s sake. We talk about Jack and I can tell Swee’Pea is a bit embarrassed to be talking so much about this boy. But as I wind down the conversation, about to change the subject, Swee’Pea suddenly announces.

“Boys have to treat me right.”

That’s my girl.

May 17, 2010

From the mouth of Swee’Pea

Swee’Pea is wrong.

It is my job, as her knowledgeable father, to point out the occasional missteps that my daughter makes in hopes that she will be grateful for each and every opportunity to learn from her father.

“Swee’Pea, that’s not right.” I say.

“Yes it is.” She replies with a level of confidence that only a four-year-old can possess.

“No, Sweetie, it isn’t. ‘Cheating’ means ‘breaking the rules on purpose.’”

“No it doesn’t.” replies Swee’Pea while looking me in the eye, daring me to contradict her again.

“Sweetie, it does too. I’m sorry but you’re wrong on this one. I’m just trying to help you understand.” I say this in my best, “I’m being the patient and loving father” voice and I’m sure my words will have the desired impact. I study her face and wait for the wave of recognition that I am, indeed, correct to wash over her face and to admit my superior knowledge. It’s coming. I can see it beginning to take place. Her face is transforming into a…

*Sigh* *Eyeroll* “What…ever, Daddy.”

Okay, maybe that wasn’t the reaction I was expecting.

May 9, 2010


Lately, once I get home from work, the twins have been eager to play “Ironman.” Now, this has nothing to do with the movie Ironman. At least, I don’t think it does. All it really resembles in Swee’Pea and TheMonk playing the hero/heroine while I play the villain. This means fending off flying almost-five-year-old bodies while protecting things important to me, least of all my family jewels.

But I’m crafty. I distract with a flying pillow. I duck at the last minute, sending little bodies flying as well. I bob and weave like a skinny, Mexican, Muhammad Ali. I counter-jab with couch pillows and occasionally pick up a wiggly preschooler and body slam them onto a stack of couch cushions.

The kids gang up and attack me from different sides. TheMonk will be pinned beneath me screaming for mercy and yelling for his sister to help when Swee’Pea will announce, “Have no fear! Super Girl is here!” And before I know it, Super Girl is giving Daddy an elbow to the head.

But, until recently, I always had an ace in the hole. If I ever got into unexpected trouble I could always pull out my secret weapon. You see, I happen to be an expert tickler. My fingers are nimbler than four-year-old nose picker. I’m lightning fast with both hands. No preschooler can escape from my wiggly fingers.

TheMonk seems to have noticed this. And one thing I like about my son is that he’s a thinker. He always wants to know how things work and how he can solve problems. And tonight, he figured out how to solve the tickling problem.

“Daddy, I’m the good guy and you’re the bad guy. Let’s pretend that the bad guys don’t have tickling powers.”

Dammit. How do I argue with that?!

May 4, 2010

A test not for the faint of heart

The pressure is unbelievable. It’s one of those life-defining moments in someone’s life where you know that one little mistake, one wrong answer, one tiny miscue can make the difference between a life of hardship and a life of splendor.

The energy, as we walk down the hallway is tense. Playful words are exchanged as we take in our surroundings and try to block out what will transpire in the next few minutes. The tension mounts as we enter a cramped corridor that holds untold potential horror. We are greeted and summarily ushered to two small tables where Swee’Pea and TheMonk are made to sit and face their judgment.

I feel, not like a lion protecting his cubs, but a parent who is offering his children up to be sacrificed to appease some deity that controls all that is known and unknown. I fear the worst and I am ready to lash out at a moment’s notice. I am ready to rebel against the tyranny of oppression that stands before us in judgment. I want to scream out to protect my offspring in a primal, winner take all, battle to the death. But it is useless. I am resigned to accept the situation as it is.

I, as a parent, am helpless in my ability to protect my little ones from what is about to take place. I am forced to wait beyond the reaches of my protective grasp and as I take my seat and force myself to exude a calmness that doesn’t exist, I strain to hear what is happening to my little ones at this very moment. I hang on every sound, no matter how faint, and I expect to hear the worst. But, suddenly, I hear it. I strain even harder to hear with my one good ear and barely make out a familiar, yet faraway, sound.

“a, b, c, d, e, f, geeeee… h, i, j, k, lmnopeeeee… q, r, s… t, u, v… w, x, y and zeeee.”

Hmmm, maybe this kindergarten assessment won’t be so bad after all.


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