Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nature

So my daughter brought home a crayfish - a remnant of the brood they had been raising in science class - as a pet. It has clearly been bested in crustacean battles, as it is missing one claw, one leg on the right side, and three of the legs on the left side. Also, one of its antennae is little more than a stump. 

Moiya's chosen name for it? 

"Lucky"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cozy


Moiya, explaining why she’s delaying going to sleep:
“I have to make Soft Bear cozy.”
(pause)

“He can’t sleep unless he’s cozy.”

(long pause)

“He’s a bear.”
(very long pause)

It takes a long time to make bears cozy.”

To be fair, once she had Soft Bear zipped up  in her fuzzy hoody, he did look pretty darn cute.
(And cozy)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More Moiyaisms

This is an oldie that I had forgotten until it resurfaced this morning during tickle-time.  The sensitive area directly behind your knee is called a “leg-pit.”

Really, Who Needs Television?

Since this past weekend Moiya and I had a Barbie Movie Marathon (seven Barbie movies in two days) AND it was Tangled’s birthday, it seemed a good time to catch up on things in our local Barbie family.

For a time everyone seemed to be hitting on Ken and his marital status changed daily. Some days he was married to Cupcake and other days to Stella. Some days they were his sisters. Some days Cupcake was his sister while also being married to him. For a time she was his sister and dating him WHILE he was married to Princessa and Stella.

Then we got some new players, (not Barbies…  any readily available doll gets moved into the narrative- though fortunately only the human ones try to date Ken) and the dynamic changed. 

Most recently Josie (5) and Katie (12) joined the family. One of these is a “Skipper” doll – who as I understand it is one of the little sisters in the Barbie franchise. I have no idea where the hell the other came from. We have Barbies, Skippers, Polly Pockets, ponies, unicorns, fairies, Littlest Pet Shop animals, and an assortment of Happy Meal figures gained over the years of Daddy not providing suitable nutrition, all crammed into the Barbie mansion.

The family gathers for Tangled's birthday.
Clockwise from center: Tangled,
Cupcake, Katie, Josie, Princessa, and Stella.
(Big John lurks in the background)
Originally Josie and Katie arrived at the Barbie mansion because they had been abandoned by their mother. Later they became Cupcake’s children (after briefly having been birthed by Stella). Ken got a little creeped out when the 12 year old Katie started flirting with him, but fortunately it didn’t last once she became his daughter.

Stella herself has since moved from being a spouse, to being the Aunt, to being “some girl who hangs around” (my favorite). Most recently she is another one of Ken’s daughters by Cupcake, and in any given narrative, she is always the bad girl who causes trouble.

So at present Ken and Cupcake are in a monogamous relationship (we had a wedding ceremony last week) and all the others are their children. There was a period of adjustment when Ken’s children kept calling him “Ken” and flirting with him, ( on being reminded of their changed status, Moiya would pause and mumble “uh.. forget I said that”) -  but everything seems settled now.

There have been lots of adventures. On one occasion Ken and Tangled (who was his sister at the time) were trapped in a haunted school and menaced by ghosts – who had magically padlocked all the doors. Ken’s faithful pet Pig (who can have amazing powers depending on need) arrived to save the day by battering down the doors with his head. And we’ve had lots of trips to the hospital for broken legs ever since Moiya decided that one of the Barbie boots looks like a cast (a bright pink cast, but a cast all the same).

And then there’s been… Big John.

Without warning, family members began to undergo radical personality changes: Pig began being mean to the other animals, and Princessa began being mean to everyone and disrespectful to her parents. All girls squabbled… or went into trances and began talking in weird voices. And no one could figure out the cause. At first it seemed as though it all went back to Stella, who was caught (repeatedly) casting spells on the others. No amount of pleading could dissuade her and despite her Mother’s intervention (Cupcake has powerful magical powers) somehow Stella always found a way to gain her powers back and would return to doing evil.

Then just as Ken and Cupcake began to despair for their daughter -- they had to shut her up in the horse barn  (a cardboard box from Aldi) as a safety measure – it emerged that Stella herself was the victim of a magical force which was causing her misbehavior. And the person casting the spell on Stella was..

(suspenseful music) Big John.

Big John is a tiny little plastic Happy Meal doll who comes up to Barbie’s hip, purportedly a Madame Alexander rendering of the Mad Hatter. He talks EXACTLY like Mister Bean, has immense magical powers, and appears mysteriously out of nowhere to cause evil for no very well-defined purpose before vanishing again.

I love Big John.

For a time, Big John was abetted by one of the three Fairies (another Happy Meal toy promoting the Barbie movie “Fairytopia”. I really need to upgrade our diet) who had gone rogue. But the fairies tend to police their own and she was dealt with. Big John was eventually banished. I’ve forgotten exactly how he was banished.. perhaps by the Unicorn Queen, who was the one who was able to magically detect that Stella was under Big John’s enchantment. Though I suspect he won't be gone for long.

Stella is still pretty naughty and has since been permanently locked in her room where she shouts and rants at the rest of the family (any resemblance to my daughter is purely coincidental, I'm sure). Fortunately her Mother is still able to limit her magical powers, and Tangled can fix most of the physical injuries that occur by draping her long hair (she is, after all, a Rapunzel doll) over the affected body part. Between them and the Unicorns, relative peace has returned to Barbie-land.

But my absolute favorite, surreal new character is the Giant Floating Baby.
Ken floating on GFB
That’s its formal name – Giant Floating Baby. Moiya noticed one of her baby dolls sitting in the rocker next to her bed and decided to work it into the narrative. One day it just came floating into existence like the Cheshire Cat and began talking to Ken, who was – understandably – terrified.

Ken’s fear was centered firstly on being addressed by a 15’ tall floating infant, and secondly on the logistics of changing a soiled 15’ tall floating infant. On being reassured by Giant Floating Baby that giant floating babies as a species don’t poop (or if they do, it's handled magically) Ken calmed down to the point that he agreed to take a ride on Giant Floating Baby. Unfortunately when poor Ken attempted to introduce Cupcake to his new friend, he found that the Giant Floating Baby is – much like Elwood P. Dowd’s Harvey – invisible to all but himself. (I guess that would make it a Giant Floating Invisible Baby)

So now Cupcake is faced with the possibility that her beloved is losing his mind. And while he floats serenely around looking over the landscape on his Invisible Giant Floating Baby, Ken surely wonders if she might not be right.

I identify so much with Ken.

Monday, April 2, 2012

This Morning

Spent the morning watching my daughter teach the Spider (played by my hand and more formally known as the Tickle Spider) to stand on his head.

Some days I love my life.

On the other hand, lest anyone accuse me of sugarcoating this narrative, I should also point out that this is the same child who, having been confined to her room as punishment spent half-an-hour muttering (loudly) from behind the door that I was fat and hairy and ugly and smelled bad and that’s why nobody like me and I can’t get a girlfriend.

I had to go downstairs because it’s bad if they can hear you laughing.

On the other other hand, I consider that Moiya’s bad behavior (and it can be very bad indeed) is simply an attempt by the universe to maintain Karmic balance. This is after all the same child who had completely cleaned the bathroom before I even got out of bed last Saturday, and who made me a “comfy spot” with pillows and blankets and then tucked me in so we could watch movies together.

On the whole, I think I have it pretty good for a fat, hairy, smelly old man.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Gift to be Simple

It’s not the big events I cherish, but the small ones – the everyday ones. I love when we’re out somewhere and my daughter just suddenly takes my hand. I love the wild turns of her interest and imagination. In fact, the thing I love about children in general – at least the ones that haven’t been spoiled by a steady diet of passive, electronic entertainment – is their utter willingness to make games out of anything that comes to hand.

I suppose that’s because I’m a bit… simple. I was once described as being “emotionally retarded” – which is probably more accurate than I’d really like to admit. I recall once playing a game for an extended period with one of the nieces now removed from my life by divorce, which involved some small figurines, a plastic tote bag, a good deal of running and a number funny voices. The thing about child-games is that the same sequence gets repeated over, and over, and over again – which drives some adults crazy, but which I just regard as a way to get it right. My Mother-in-Law commented later on my amazing patience and I thought (though out of respect did not say) “Patience, hell. It was way more fun than what the adults were doing.”

And so one of the joys of my parenthood has been getting to take part in Moiya’s spontaneous play and rediscovering the world the way it once appeared to my eyes. I love the tiny, impromptu games that we play everywhere we go. They’re so like snowflakes, always different, and gone in an instant. (And like snowflakes I so wish I could keep them against the dry, hot days ahead when an older Moiya no longer wants to play with me.)

We go together to the library each weekend (sometimes two - one of the fringe benefits of living in one city, working in another, and paying tax to both). And on the way up to the front steps I noticed Moiya carefully stepping around cracks in order to protect her Mother’s back. So I followed suit – until she very deliberately pushed me over onto one. I squawked “Cheater! And there goes your Mother’s back!” “Nuh-uh,” she replied, jumping to the next bit of pavement, “It’s YOUR Mother’s back.” And up the front steps we went, trading “Nuh-uhs” and “Uh-huhs” all the way into the building. I got some looks.

I get a lot of looks.

Leaving Wal-Mart later that afternoon, we had to walk carefully on the painted lines through the parking lot - or cracks, when no lines were available. Apparently cracks in asphalt are safe for Mothers in a way that cracks in concrete are not. Once in the car Moiya and I spoke over each other which earned me a jinx.
(Jinx: A penalty that one person can invoke on another when the two of them say the same thing at the same time – Wikipedia).

Moiya’s preferred jinx penalty is a free soda (no, she doesn’t actually get one.. but that is utterly beside the point). Somewhere along the way she’s picked up a variation in which one person begins counting from the moment of the jinx till the other person speaks and the number reached determines the number of sodas owed. I objected (once she got to 30 or 40) that I had been unaware of this particular refinement and so we had to start over.

“Say something.” She prompted.

“Say what?”

“Say anything.”

“Okay.. dog.”

“No, wait! I have to say it at the same time!”

“Okay. On three. One.. Two.. Three.”

And we both said “dog” after which Moiya began counting.

“Fred!” I said (Fred is my all-purpose word. Having an all-purpose word saves more effort than you can possibly believe).

“Okay,” said Moiya. “I got to 137.”

“WHAT? Did not!” Moiya by this time is giggling.

“Did so!”

“Do over!” And so we did it again. This time Moiya pretended not to hear me say Fred until I shouted it at the top of my lungs.

“I got to 500! You owe me 500 sodas!!”

“You CAN’T have gotten to 500!”

“Nuh-huh! I was counting by hundreds!”

Amidst much giggling and pretended outrage, we did it over and over and over with Moiya adding the totals the whole time. By the time we reached home, she informed me that I owed her 6,427 sodas.

Then we ran a footrace to the front door. I lost. I always lose, just like when we race up the stairs to the second floor (mostly because she grabs hold of the back of my pants).

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Shaker song, 1848

The Corps of Discovery

One of the three bridges that connect our little corner of Indiana with Kentucky (where I work and where Moiya attends school) developed cracks a few months back, necessitating it’s closure until repairs could be effected and sending an additional 69,587 cars onto the bridges and roads that we use on our daily commute. The result was huge traffics jams on the roads leading to the bridges and long, long waits to cross. We started getting up at 5:30 a.m. to beat the traffic on at least one of the legs of our journey – which helped until the rest of Jeffersonville had the same idea. So we began experimenting each morning with different routes up to the bridge, with Daddy scanning Google Earth looking for roads less travelled. And it helped. We eventually worked out paths that, while they didn’t eliminate the wait time, at least lessened it.

And along the way, with all the delays and frustration and annoyance, something rather wonderful happened.

We discovered new worlds at our doorstep. We discovered that, by following our familiar paths and procedures, we had been blissfully, shockingly unaware of our own surroundings. We discovered that a view of the broad sweep of the Ohio River (surely several miles distant) was available within a few blocks of home. And as a consequence, our morning commute now takes us past Jeffboat, the largest inland boat builders in America. We see huge barges looming out of the darkness, tended by massive cranes rolling silently on unseen tracks. We especially enjoy the firework flashes of the welders as they go about their business in the early morning darkness. And across the street is the Howard steamboat museum. Moiya is taken with the lighting, which in the gloom makes the Victorian structure look like a haunted house. Daddy is more interested in the steamboat pilot’s house and paddlewheel sitting on the grounds.

And so on the way home from school/work one night Moiya suddenly asked “Daddy, can we go explore?” Usually, at 5 o’clock after a long day, I’d have said no, “perhaps another day.” But ‘another day’ tends too often to never come. And with the GPS set for home, I knew we get to the apartment from anyplace we found ourselves. So I told Moiya I would drive wherever she directed, and off we went.

And for the next hour, we drove wherever Moiya thought best. Eventually we spotted a rather nice playground off in the distance, surrounded by trees, which we decided to investigate. And there, in the middle of our rather grotty urban area, we suddenly found ourselves improbably in a nature reserve/private park. Beyond the playground we had spotted were long nature walks, 68 acres of tress (labeled by species) and a large waterway populated by a hundred or so Canadian geese who were joined by others as we stood and gawped.

Geese don’t seem nearly as large on land as the do when they pass within three feet of your head at 2o miles an hour. “They’re HUGE” Moiya yelled over the honks and squawks and splashing water. We ducked and giggled and decided then and there to go exploring. We walked the trails till the cold and dark forced us back to the car. We found a grove of trees so dense that the path between them felt like a cave. (We pretended that a witch lived in it). We were witness to the rather magical sight and sound of several dozen large waterfowl taking to the air at the same instant (close in, their wings make an unearthly buzzing sound).

And then we saw the deer.

On the way back to the car, we looked down the path and saw a young doe nibbling grass and leaves. Moiya and I both froze in the fear that we would startle her, but the deer clearly had no fear and walked up to within four or five feet of us. She stared at us (presumably waiting to see if the stupid tourists were going to offer food). We continued to freeze, and eventually she wandered further into the brush, at home and unhurried. We giggled all the way back to the car.

The bridge is repaired now. Traffic has gone back to its normal flow. We could resume our familiar patterns. Hell.. we could sleep an hour or so later in the mornings. But Moiya has said she’d rather keep getting up early. I find myself continuing to travel the back roads even when my daughter is not around to request it.

And we continue to explore.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Apocalypse Now

‎"And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Moiya's Grade School Dance Party, and Hell followed with him".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Love, Actually

This morning at 6 a.m when I went out to warm up the car, Moiya wanted to go to and scrape frost off the windows. I pointed out that with the defrosters on, this wasn’t really necessary and was met with such a crestfallen look that I hastily added “But if you could do that, sweetheart, it would really be great.”

So I stood around in the frigid morning watching my offspring attempting to wield the big ice scraper. She kept angling it so that only a sliver of the blade contacted the window and scraping in tiny, tiny strokes. Progress was slow, but she clearly was having a blast and taking great pride in her work.

And without warning, as sometimes happens, I was filled with such an overpowering love for her that I felt like my chest was surely too small to contain it. It never happens at sensible times or over sensible things. It’s always silly, quirky things that cause the floodgates to open. At such time I used to scoop her into a sudden bear hug, but increasingly that elicits a squirming “DAD-DEEE. STOPPIT!!”

So now I just stand, and watch, and grin stupidly. And realize that, marriages notwithstanding, until I had a child I had no idea what love was.

Pretty is Good...

Yesterday one of my coworkers walked into my office and wanted to know why I had a stuffed lamb and bear sitting on either side of my computer monitors. I explained that my daughter had made me promise I would bring them in from the car and keep them with me so that they wouldn’t be cold and lonesome till she got out of school.

He looked at me like I had lost my tiny mind.

Quite apart from the fact that a promise is a promise, I was happy to do it because that is something I like about my daughter – she thinks about others. (Sometimes the others are real and sometimes not, but that is beside the point). And I tell her so: “Pretty is good. Smart is better. Kind is best.”

Her Mom and I would love to claim some credit, but I think it is just her nature. She carries lost bugs outside “so their Mommy and Daddy can find them.” We’ve always gotten reports from school that she looks out for the less popular kids. When we go out to dinner with my Mom it is a point of great pride for her Daddy that Moiya is always careful to thank her servers. (Sadly, I observe that relatively few adults do so).

And it is not uncommon for her to give away her toys. Jacquelyn tells me that at Christmas they had guests and that before they left, Moiya went to her room and picked out some of her toys for the adults to take away with them as Christmas presents.

So when we’re in public and we’re watching the wild antics of other kids screaming for attention or for toys, Moiya sometimes just stands with a bemused expression of her face. I’ll usually bend down, kiss the top of her head and say “thank you.”

If I ask “do you know what I’m thanking you for?” she’ll grin at me and say “oh yeah.”

Pretty is good. Smart is better. Kind is best

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Note to Self:

There's just so many vital little pieces of information that nobody ever bothers to tell you. For the record, when you let your daughter paint your nails with both pink polish AND a layer of purple glitter polish, be aware that while the polish remover will strip the pink off admirably, it will have no effect on the purple glitter what. so. ever.

(It may be that other shades of glitter nail polish behave similarly. I only have data on the purple and hesitate to jump to conclusions.)

On the up side, I provided almost infinite mirth to the guys at the garage when I took my car in for maintenance.

How to Melt a Daddy

My daughter made me snowflake decorations for the wall of my office. And before she gave them to me she kissed each one "So you'll know they have my love in them."
♥♥♥