Thursday, June 25, 2009

Clever


I love my daughter’s sense of humor, which varies wildly from the silly to the sophisticated. There’s always poop and fart jokes, naturally (though I’ve explained that not everybody thinks such things are funny and therefore they should probably be reserved for Daddy. I need to blog about poopcookies at some point before that game is outgrown)

But Moiya’s also developed a dry wit that cracks me up when it appears suddenly in the midst of all the rollicking silliness. We’ve practiced ‘serious face’ for years (I thought it was a useful skill for her to have) and she’s gotten pretty good a looking solemn on demand. So that now she can deliver jokes with an absolute deadpan expression when she deems it appropriate. (see the episode of the flying mermaid)

A few weeks back we’d spent the day together and, as I hadn’t gotten to se her in awhile I had made up my mind to giver her my undivided attention for the day. We roughhoused and fly kites (well.. one kite, and Daddy had some trouble sharing). We made cookies and got movies from the library and played Go Fish and Candy Land. And we were getting the sleeping bags out for Popcorn Night when I noticed Moiya sitting on the sofa and looking forlorn. At first I got not response reproachful looks when I asked what was wrong. Finally Moiya sighed and said “I’m sad, Daddy” And when I asked why she said “You’re just not giving me any attention

My jaw dropped open and I stammered a few times before yelping “WHAT?!?”
And then realized when my child erupted in helpless laughter that I’d been had again. Now periodically, when we’re deep into a game of Old Maid, Moiya will look up from her cards and say deadpan “You’re not giving me enough attention”

“I’m clever” has slipped into use in our household as an after effect of the last season of Dr. Who.”Aha!” I’ll exclaim as I effect some miraculous repair on a toy which I really hadn’t thought could be saved.”Oh, your Daddy is a clever man indeed!” And when Moiya asks, as I hem her pants, how I ‘know how to do so many things’ (a naiveté I’m sure won’t last much longer) I’ll reply “Because I’m clever.”

So it was that one day, after Moiya had done something certifiably insane, whilst Daddy was spluttering and having seizures and exclaiming “WHY? What on EARTH were you thinking? WHY DID YOU DO THIS!?” Moiya looked me in the eye and said solemnly “Because I’m clever, Daddy.” And I lost it.

I love my daughter’s sense of humor.

The Nose Knows

My daughter and I sniff books.

I meant that literally. I’m not sure when it started. I think we had a newly printed glossy color book from the library which still had it’s new book smell. Moiya picked it up, stuck her face in it and inhaled deeply.

So I did too. And I admitted I liked the smell of old books too. So we got some more books and sniffed them all. Now during story time, often as not we stop and smell the books before we read them. This puts me in mind of the fact the centers of the brain which control smell are closely linked with the areas controlling memory. Nothing will call a memory back with the visceral suddenness of smell. There’s a certain musty, sun-heated wood odor I’ll catch every now and again which catapults me across time into my grandparents garage in Dallas in July. There’s another similar one which puts me on the ground next to my Dad as he closed the doors on his Mom’s garage in Kansas city in the fall. I don’t have a clue what the difference is in the two odors, but me brain does.

And since I’ve been a Dad, I’ve discovered (or rediscovered) other smells which evoke powerful memories of childhood to me. Some I would have expected, but others are a little surprising. In no particular order then, these are the smells which access the dormant areas of my brain where childhood’s summer lives:

a. Ballpoint pen ink
b. Hot vinyl
c. Sunscreen
d. Insect repellant
e. Crayons
f. Playdough

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stretching Exercises

So I was putting training wheels on Moiya’s first two-wheeler (aka the “Big Girl Bike”) the night before her birthday, and it occurred to me how much alike we both were. Not Moiya and I… me and the training wheels.

Moiya is still very much in the “fotch me” phase which, while tiring, is deeply pleasing to me. I’m constantly answering calls to witness a whole host of things – dances, leaps, and feats of dexterity. I watch silly faces and funny walks, painting and coloring, hopping, skipping, twirling and running. “See what I can do, Daddy? Aren’t you just so very proud of me?” And I am. I so very much am.

And I love that she is mentally and physically active. I love that she reaches and explores. I love that she still wants to share it with me. And increasingly, it is not only that I observe, but my physical vantage point which is important. As often as not if we are outdoors, Moiya will indicate a spot with her foot. “You stand HERE, Daddy,” she will say. “So I can show you this.” When I work in the garden (aka the patch of dirt outside the apartment) Moiya will pick up a leaf or twig and ask if she can throw it in the dumpster which sits about 60 feet from our door. It isn’t about the ‘trash’ of course, but about the exhilaration feeling of walking out of Daddy’s immediate orbit and just a bit into the wide world.

At first I watched her every step of the way, there and back. Now I very deliberately keep on with my weeding and let her make the journey on her own. Daddy’s need to stretch their comfort levels now and again.


A month or so back, Moiya and I were playing in the apartment complex’s playground; There’s a swing set and a slide, lots of sand – and a jungle gym. The jungle gym is an unusual design, being mostly vertical, 10 or 12 feet straight up. There are sections of u-shaped tubes, extending out from a central axis in stepped rows, with each row being slightly offset from it’s neighbors to form and asymmetrical ladder. Moiya had been too timid to climb it the last time I encouraged her to, and this time did not seem to be shaping up any differently. “I don’t think I’m old enough to climb that, Daddy” she said, eying the height apprehensively.

But as she played on the swings, Moiya kept looking over at the jungle gym, and after awhile she went over and began to climb the lowest rung. “Fotch me, Daddy! Stand there” she said, indicating a spot directly beneath her. I stood where indicated and held up my arms to offer assistance if needed. After a few false starts, Moiya made the second rung. And the idea that she *could* do this began to compete in her head with the apprehension. And so she climbed that morning until she was at the top and looking out over the apartment complex, the queen of all she surveyed. “LOOK at me, Daddy! Look how HIGH I am! Did you think I could climb so high? Aren’t you AMAZED?”

Aren’t you so very proud of me?

After she came carefully down, we played on the swings for awhile longer and then went back for another climb. But this time “You stand here now” she said and drew a line in the sand about ten feet further back. And halfway up, she decided that I needed to move to the other side of the chain link fence that surrounds the play yard. As Moiya’s confidence grew, her need to demonstrate it in terms of distance from Daddy grew as well.

Like I said – training wheels.

And so last Sunday, as she was practicing riding her bike – learning to steer and stop, building leg strength and speed, Daddy no longer had to walk alongside as he had the previous week. First we raced (“You go that way and I’ll go this way and you’ll see how I can beat you”). And finally I was instructed to wait in the other side of the parking lot – sidelined whilst my little girl rode here and there – her speed and confidence increasing in tandem. “Look at me, Daddy!”
And I was suddenly struck, as one so often is when viewing the familiar from a slightly different perspective. This child who had lain in my arms for so long, who has loomed so large in my visual field since her birth – seeing her riding on the other side of the lot I was suddenly acutely aware of how tiny.. how unutterably fragile and tiny was my little madly-peddling bundle of pink and gold.

And I was once again seized with the age-old twin terrors of letting go, and holding on too tightly.

"All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them"
~J.D. Salinger – “The Catcher in the Rye”~


“Aren’t you just so amazed, Daddy?”
Yes, my darling girl. Oh my, yes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lazy

I was feeling guilty about not having enough time to blog the things that have been going on and thinking what a shame it is that blogging isn't as comparatively easy as posting a facebook status update. And then it hit me: I could collect some facebook status updates and pretend they're a blog entry.

Lazy? Sure. But my whole point in keeping this blog is to preserve the ephemeral memories of my daughter's early life. And those memories - like life - are far more made up of myriad tiny moments than great events.

So.. here's our life, told through insignificant moments:



Now that was weird. Walked in to find my daughter playing cards with the cat. Asked who was winning and Moiya said that she was "'Cause kitty can't count very well."
6/14/2007 5:34pm

I couldn't figure out why after we made zucchini bread all the preschool teachers were giggling and asking if I enjoyed baking. Then I learned that for two days Moiya has been telling everybody that Daddy made 'bikini bread'
June 11 at 11:05pm

loves it when his daughter asks "Daddy, can we turn off the TV?"
June 11 at 7:11pm

is spreading the sleeping bags on the living room floor for popcorn night. Popcorn made: check. Big pile of new library books: check. Crazy child: check. Life is difficult, but good.
June 6 at 8:16pm

is hemming his daughter's pants and thinking that the more things change, the more they stay the same...
May 31 at 4:46pm

is getting sick. Funny how all that hand washing is less effective when a five-year-old sneezes in your face.
May 28 at 10:39am

made cupcakes with his daughter, let her lick the bowl, and now remembers why his ex called sugar "crack for babies"
May 24 at 4:52pm

is listening to "The Little Drummer Boy" for the 4000th time. But this time I get to watch my daughter's impromptu dance, so that alleviates the pain :)
May 17 at 11:05am

wonders what it is about the sound of the word "no" that renders it inaudible to children.
May 16 at 8:56pm

is dealing with a grumpy, whiny, disobedient child.
May 16 at 11:11am

followed by...

Ah.. so few things a good nap can't resolve.
May 16 at 3:15pm

I love my daughter's sense of humor :)
May 14 at 5:45pm

Yea for youthful enthusiasms. Thanks to my daughter, I've now heard "The Little Drummer Boy" 47 times in the last 12 hours.
May 10 at 12:37am

is all 'where, God.. WHERE do they get all their energy??'
May 9 at 9:47am

is nursing an aching back after playing "camp out" on the living room floor all night.
May 3 at 9:20am

is watching Lilo and Stitch with Moiya. Ohana.
May 2 at 10:38am

Ref. my earlier question about insanity and small girls: yesterday my daughter "cleaned" her room by dumping all the pieces from 5 different jigsaw puzzles into one box.
April 27 at 11:54am

had a lovely morning with Moiya, standing in a field flying kites :)
April 26 at 12:11pm

Wonders if all four-year-old girls are insane -- or just his.
April 26 at 8:26am

Cleaned up wet bed (and wet daughter) at 3 a.m. and now can't get back to sleep. We leads the glamorous life, we does...
April 14 at 4:17am

is somewhat dismayed to find that Easter Egg dye is capable of staining linoleum. Does the FDA know about this stuff??
April 11 at 10:50am

Later...

is more dismayed to find that Easter egg dye works far better on four-year- old hands than it does on eggs. Specifically the green dye.. up to the wrists. I'm the father of the Toddler from the Black Lagoon.
April 11 at 5:40pm

is helping his daughter make "panny-cakes" for breakfast :)
April 5 at 9:08am

wishes sometimes it was more socially acceptable to drug children out of their tiny minds.
April 4 at 7:02pm

finally learned to put his daughter's hair up in pigtails. Not perfect, but pretty fair for a novice. And he is quite absurdly proud and happy about it.
April 3 at 6:16pm

Ah.. there's nothing that makes you feel quite so glad to be alive as waking bright and early on a Monday morning to find that your cat's been sick all over the floor.
March 30 at 7:20am

Ah, the joys of parenthood. The first time they walk. The first time they talk. The first time they tell you that they hate you...
March 27 at 5:59am

is amazed at the wealth of childhood memories brought to life from something so simple as the smell of Crayola crayons.
March 26 at 1:24pm

is sitting on the swings with his daughter at the local park, having long silly conversations, enjoying the sunshine, and singing "Sumer is icomin in"
March 22 at 12:59pm

is astonished at his power to kiss away boo-boos on little arms and legs.
March 21 at 8:36am

just had to watch Stuart Little 2 but couldn't hear much of the dialogue over the "vroom" sound of E.B. White spinning in his grave.
March 14 at 6:04pm

is learning not to let his daughter shuffle the cards..
March 8 at 3:28pm

is wondering if he has the only cat that snores...
March 8 at 10:15am

is trying to put !@#$! ponytails on his daughter's !@#$! doll. !@#$!
February 21 at 9:27am

saw Hannah Montana for the first time yesterday, but was distracted by the plaintive cry of his brain cells dying, one by one
February 17 at 9:48am

is sitting on the floor, surrounded by Littlest Pet Shop figures and wondering where his brain went.
February 7 at 11:11am

is experiencing newfound respect for his parents after this weekend, remembering the thousands of board games they played with him as a child.
February 1 at 11:02am

is watching Mary Poppins for the 1,342nd time this week.
January 31 at 4:21pm

is loving teaching his daughter board games
January 23 at 8:04pm

is eating gingerbread with his daughter, enjoying the smell of home-made soup and fresh bread, and feeling unaccustomedly content.
January 18 at 3:17pm

is losing at Candyland.. again.
January 17 at 9:57am

is wishing there was a Flintstones Chewable Valium for Children
December 13, 2008 at 8:56am

is in Christmas Tree light hell. Who invented these damned things?
December 10, 2008 at 8:19pm

is helping little hands decorate the Christmas tree
December 7, 2008 at 8:17pm

is making his daughters hand puppet sing selections from Pirates of Penzance
December 1, 2008 at 7:38pm

is playing dress-up dolls with his daughter (and enjoying the fact that dolls don't complain – unlike actors)
November 22, 2008 at 10:34am

is spending Saturday night sitting on the floor with his daughter, eating popcorn, watching videos and coloring.
November 8, 2008 at 8:55pm