Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Toy Story

There’s a lesson here somewhere:

Cost of Latest Toy from Wal-Mart (hula hoop):
$7.98

Duration of Interest:
20 minutes




Cost of Political Flyers Delivered To the House and Rolled Up To Make “Swords”:

$0.00

Duration of Interest:
Three months and counting.

Mr. Stinkey

Problem: Fussy, drama-queen child throwing fits over anything and everything.

Solution: Pulling a smelly, lint-covered sock out from the laundry, making it into a hand-puppet named “Mr. Stinky” and having said puppet chase the aforementioned child screaming through the house whilst pleading with her in a bad French accent “Aw, c’mon babee! Gimme leetle kees! Muah! Muah!

Changes

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this journal, and life has, as life is wont to do, changed out of all recognition. Some of the changes have been expected as a healthy if bittersweet byproduct of Moiya’s growth. Some, like John Lennon’s definition of life, were what happened while I was busy making other plans.

In the latter category pride of place goes to my acceptance into the ranks of the unemployed as the company I had given ten years of my life to “downsized.” I’ve been out of work (full-time work anyway) for 14 months at this point – long enough to wipe out what savings I had and to have taught me that while I was working the HR departments of most corporations were taken over by twenty-somethings who view me at 57 as an alien (anD pointless) species.

But this blog isn’t about me, but about my daughter.

We made it through kindergarten, though not without scars. After punishing Moiya relentlessly for her supposed inability to behave in school, we got to comparing notes with other parents (and observed enough ourselves) to realize that whatever our daughter’s shortcomings, her teacher was an awful harridan of a woman who should not have been left in the care of a cage of gerbils, much less a roomful of children. We are not the sort of parents who blame the school for our child’s misbehavior, and we try hard to always be supportive of Moiya’s teachers. But this was out of control and attempts to resolve to situation were futile. So we were left with no alternative but to meet with the principal. After that things got better. After that, school was out for the summer.

But the damage had been done. Moiya went from a child who loved books and was deeply proud of her growing skill with words and numbers, to child who wanted nothing to do with books or reading and bitterly resented library trips and story time.

I’m happy to report that we are slowly coming out of that phase. She has a good teacher now (a saga for another day). I’ve made flash cards of words this summer and Moiya has gone from having to be made to run the drill to asking to do it. This is partly because of the mini-M&Ms she can win for success, and – increasingly – due to her delight at the 100+ words she can now recognize on sight. And I no longer have to drag her to the library. But I’m no longer allowed to pick her books. I have to wait in the grown-up section while she trundles upstairs to the children’s library, picks put her book with no input from Daddy, and checks them out by herself with her own card. All of which tickles me.

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We have big girl beds now in both houses and the Troubles at bedtime have completely disappeared. I still sit with Moiya and hold her hand while she falls asleep. Modern child psychologists frown on this. But modern child-psychologists can bite my hairy little white tuchas. As her mother has pointed out Moiya gets herself to sleep at her house, so we know she can do it. And that precious period as the day unwinds into sleep is when my child lets down her guard and we have our best talks. I wouldn’t give those up for the world – not at least till Moiya wants me to. I still smile about the night we were discussing God and she wanted to know “Can God see me when I poop?”

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Other changes tug at my heartstrings. We not longer have to wait before every car trip while Moiya selects which of her stuffed “buddies” are to ride with her and gets blankets ready to keep them warm. When I noticed this, I asked her about it.
Moiya just shrugged and said “Well, I’m older now, Daddy”

Just… Ouch.

I thought the same fate had befallen the broad collection of personalities that Moiya used to talk to in the car. She went through a spell of wanting to listen to music in the car on the old mp3 player I gave her and I thought Mr. Sun et al were gone for good.

However I’m happy to report that most if not all have returned again. Moiya has taken to reading stories to them on the return trip from the library. And on the longer trip to and from school she has devised a sort of competition for them in which she arranges them into teams and quizzes them on the stories she’s read and keeps score in a notebook she carries with her. Last week Mr. Sun, his daughter Sunny, and Mr. Cold were in completion over questions from “Goodnight Gorilla.” The week before, Good Gorilla was competing with Pirate Dog and our cat, Simon (who can apparently travel out-of-body).

Moiya: “Sunny, which animal does the zoo keeper say goodnight to first?”
Sunny: “The Gorilla.”
Moiya: “Good, Sunny. You get a point. Now Mr. Sun, who is the next animal that the zoo keeper says goodnight to?”
Mr. Sun: “Hmmm.. that would be… the penguin!”
Moiya: “No, that’s not right. No point for you.”
Mr. Sun: “The spiny anteater?”
Sunny: “Daddy! You only get one guess!”
Moiya: “That’s right. Sit down Mr. Sun. Mr. Cold?”
Mr. Cold: “Yeass,, that is meee, MISTER COLD. You need me to make anything cold for you?”
Moiya: “Stop it, Mr. Cold or you’re out of the game.”
Mr. Cold: “Okay. I can do that.”
Moiya: “Now Mr. Cold, what is the animal the zookeeper say goodnight to after the gorilla?”
Mr. Cold: “The lion.”
Moiya: “Good! You get a point.”

And so it goes. Driving is never dull. Confusing, but never dull.

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And we’ve lost teeth. We’ve swallowed them. We’ve tugged them out ourselves. And we are astonished at the prescience of adults that loook at our gap-toothed smile and ask “Are you six?” The last tooth out was one that Moiya had been fiddling with while we were watching an American Girl movie (“Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front”) and had gotten so loose that it was hanging cockeyed in her jaw but was still firmly attached by a strip of flesh.
“Well baby, it’s bed time. Leave it be and it will probably come out tomorrow.”
“We can’t do that Daddy! It will fall out in my throat while I’m asleep and I’ll CHOKE on it AND I WILL DIE!!!!!”

(For those of you with boys, it is worth pointing out that with girls, Drama™ is your constant companion. High drama. Mexican soap opera drama. About anything. Nothing is too small or insignificant to provoke Drama™. In fact contrary to reason, the more small and insignificant something is, the more it is likely to result in Drama™)

“Well, than I’ll have to pull it out.”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”
“Okay, YOU pull it out.”

This does not succeed. She can’t get hold of it. Daddy can’t get hold of it. Moiya finally submits to daddy’s needle-nosed pliers, but the tooth is too tiny to gain purchase. We have no dental floss (my bad) so I try thread – which breaks.

The hours drag on and Daddy and daughter get increasingly frustrated and tired until Daddy decides to make dental floss. I dig out a spool of nylon twine, unravel some and wax it with an old candle. VOILA! Dental floss.

We secure it around Moiya’s tooth with a slip knot and I tell her I’m going to pull it on three.

“Ready? Okay... One...” YANK!

And Moiya is left looking very surprised, minus one more tooth. We stanch the blood. We go to bed.

And in the night, the tooth fairy comes. For the moment at least, that remains unchanged.

Valemtimes Day

Moiya discovered April Fools this year for the first time and loves it  -  just as she loves jumping out of hiding each and every time I come into the room and “scaring” me, oblivious to the fact that I can hear her giggling from a mile away.

Unfortunately, for some reason she has it in confused in her head with Valentine's Day and I’ve pretty much given up trying to correct her.

When I called last night to tell Moiya goodnight (her Mom and I are adamant about doing this, no matter which parent she is with) I asked her how her day had been. I do this out of habit and sense of parental duty only, since Moiya doesn't ever actually tell me anything beyond “fine”.  This time however I received a big sigh in response. ‘My day was bad, Daddy.” Usually “bad” mean bad deportment marks in school. We try for green. Yellow is more common. Red is not allowed.

“Why was your day bad, sweetie?”

(silence)

“Moiya, what did you get at school?”

A very small voice replied “I got a red, Daddy

“What!? Why? What were you doing?? Moiya, you Mother and I cannot..”

(Wild giggles) “HAPPY VALEMTIMES DAY!”

“Oh ho-ho! Well you certainly got me that time. What did you really get?”

“I got a yellow.”

“Well, that’s better than a red. But it’s still not good, Moiya. What are we going to have to..”

“HAPPY VALEMTIMES DAY!”

We got green. So far as I know.  At lest I finally persuaded her that “Happy Valemtimes Day” was not going to get her out of trouble for telling me that the apartment was on fire.

 Damn Hallmark.