Some Fresh, Steaming Gender Roles

…all right, it’s roles, not “rolls,” but the gender role thing can really make me steam at times. I try not to scald my nearly 9-year-old in the process. But then there are the occasional moments of gender education like yesterday.

Let me preface by saying that my daughter likes to watch various shows, both animated and live-action, on Netflix that are geared toward the younger crowd but not necessarily as young as she is. As long as there’s nothing too outrageous going on in them, I don’t fret too much. I was being taken to R-rated movies like “The Enforcer” when I was her age by my mom (God rest her beautiful soul) and I managed OK, so I think my daughter can handle a few tween/teen-level references. However, in an unfortunate scripting choice, one episode of a show she likes led to this:

Little Goddess: Daddy, what are cahawnies?

Me: Huh?

Little Goddess: (Plays back the previous 10 seconds of the scene for herself) Oh. Cojones. What does that mean?

Me:Um. I’m not sure how to answer that. OK. I’m not going to give you details. It’s a Spanish word that refers to a part of the body and that’s as far as I want to go with this. But the phrase as it’s being used means to “man up” or “be a man”…basically, be tougher or more assertive.

Little Goddess: OK. Thanks.

Me: Now, wait. I’m not quite done. Remember that things like that…things that suggest you should be more manly to be tough…that’s not accurate. Women and men are different, but neither is better than the other. Not even tougher, really.

Little Goddess: All right, Daddy. Jericho told us the other day that his mom said “Men and boys are stronger than women and girls.”

Me: Physically and biologically, men usually have more muscle in the upper body and are stronger in that way, but by the same token, women often deal with pain much better. Both are toughness.

Little Goddess: That makes sense, Daddy. Today, when we were doing Field Day at school, we were playing tug-of-war and the boys won, but afterward they were all (rolls her neck and shoulders dramatically) “Owwwwwwww” and “I’m sore.” And we girls, our hands were all burning and stuff but we were just laughing and smiling and saying, “Whatever.”
So, that’s how I got from “cojones” to a lesson in gender roles and their usually idiotic nature. May all such lessons go so smoothly in the future. And may she not ask me about cojones again until she’s at least 16.

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to ‘Pod

So, how much does our little goddess love the iPod she got for Christmas as the really special gift this year?

Well, aside from filling it with way more game apps than she could ever actually play (many of them essentially variations on the same handful of themes: food-making, town-building and farming), she just now decided to text me from her room on my iPhone.

Mind you, her room is directly adjacent to my office, the door between our rooms is open and she has direct line of sight from the bed she’s on to my desk.

Still, silly is as silly does…



She then proceeded to go to her laptop (the big birthday gift last year from Grandad) and prepare to send me an email, until I noted to her that maybe her big brother might want to hear from her.

Oy vey…


It’s Too Hot! …Unless…

Yesterday was one of those days when Summer says, “I’m not done with you yet, bitches!” From comfortable days and very cool nights to a day of 90+ temps and stifling humidity with no transition. A day, obviously, to stay home and hug your air conditioners more tightly than your children.

The wife and I managed to stay mostly out of the hellish wet-heat weather, but eventually, I had to drop her off at the air-conditioned neighborhood center she heads up and I had to go to the un-air-conditioned school where our little goddess has been attending third grade since just after Labor Day.

I park in the city library lot across the street and walk the roughly one-block distance to the back of the school, because I’m not trying to fight for parking just to get close. I can handle this.

The fans are going hard and heavy in the cafeteria where we pick up our kids if they don’t walk home or take the bus. It’s not cool, but at least it’s not stifling. I can handle this.

I get the goddess and we head out into the brutal heat. We walk toward the car, which will soon be air-conditioned. I can handle this.

“It’s really, really hot today, Daddy,” she tells me as we walk, her toasty hand in mine, and this is one of those rare times I’m thinking: I can’t wait to let go of your wee digits!I

“Yeah, it is,” I answer. “Brutal.”

“You don’t know, Daddy.”

“Oh, I do. I had to walk over here from the car. And your Mom and I went to the farmer’s market, so we were out in the sun for a while.”

“Yeah? Well I was in a classroom with no fans and outside for recess. You weren’t.”

“Believe me, I still know how hot it is. But you have an air-conditioned bedroom at home waiting for you.”

“Good!” she exclaims.

Then we approach the library parking lot.

“Daddy? Can we go in the library?”

I know the library’s air conditioning is sub-standard because of budget cuts. They operate at the bare minimum level to keep the books from suffering harm from heat and humidity.

“Honey,” I answer, “you know it’s not necessarily that cool in there. I thought you wanted to get home and…”

“Just a little while, Daddy?”

“Uhhhh…Jeez!…OK, sure, but we’re not staying long.”

I think I can handle this.

We get inside, and she plops down on a chair and sighs. Not what I expected.

“What’s the plan, kiddo?”

Another sigh.

“Yo! Daughter-of-mine! What’s the gameplan?”


“So, you’re just going to sit in a chair in just-OK air conditioning? I thought maybe you wanted to get some books.”

“Maybe later.”

I don’t know how to handle this. But at least it’s cooler in the library than outside. I plant myself in a kid-sized chair with my grown-ass butt to keep an eye on her while she’s in the children’s library area, and take out my iPhone. At least she’s not trying to play outside, which would mean I’d have to be outside, since for various reasons I figure I need to be in the vicinity to keep an eye out for threats…including threats she might pose to her own well-being with questionable impulse-powered decisions.

I don’t think three minutes pass before I hear, “Daddy?”

“Yes, hon?”

“Can Izabela and I go outside to play?”

“What? Didn’t you say it was way too hot today, even outside?”

“Yeah, but we’ll be in the shade.”

Oh, yes, the shade, where it’s only 90 degrees with high humidity instead of 92 degrees with high humidity. But I know this is a loser of a battle. If I say no, I’m a jerk for not letting her play like a kid and she’ll be poopy. If I say that it’s time to leave, I’m a jerk for not letting her have time with a friend her age.

So, I suck it up.

“OK, you can play outside, but not for long. Maybe 15 minutes, 20 tops.”

“Yay! Thanks, Daddy!”

When I get outside, all I can think of is: I can’t handle this. *sigh*

But still, I suffer it for at least a half hour, and hope it goes on my karmic credit card, because to her, it’s still too early to leave the moist-baking heat and she doesn’t grasp that she’s gotten twice as much time as I originally gave her.

I’ll handle this.

Bad Daddy! Put Down Those Beers!

There is a vast gulf…so many times…between what we say to our children and what they hear.

Today, I dragged my daughter along for a twice-monthly errand run to a health food store about 20 minutes away where we buy our coffee and sometimes a few other things, like the occasional organic/natural soaps, nutritional supplements, organic free-range chicken breasts, etc. Also, I typically grab a couple craft beers there.

But mostly it’s about the coffee.

And the beer.

So, as usual, I bribe the little goddess to come with me with the promise of a Happy Meal from McDonald’s on the way back, so that I can give my wife some “mommy alone time” for an hour or so. I tell my daughter that if I can find a reasonably priced bottle of red wine, I’ll be buying one for mommy from the health food store, but if not, we’ll have to make another stop on the way back home to our local big-name grocery store.

Well, while that may be clear to the rest of you, the little goddess had her own interpretation.

We get to the health food store, and she assists me with pouring the coffee beans into two one-pound bags and then dumping them into the grinder. She has this down to a science now and does almost all of it herself because it’s empowering or something. God know she doesn’t drink the stuff because she hates the taste.

Anyway, we finish with the coffee portion, and I stop at the beer/ale/stout section on the way to go look at the wines. I always stop at the craft beer area after the coffee.

This time, though…?

“Bad daddy!” my 8-year-old admonishes me.

“What?” I ask.

“You’re looking at beers!”


“You’re not supposed to be looking at beers,” she informs me.

“Since when?”

“You’re supposed to be getting wine for mommy.”

“We’ll get to that next,” I say.

“Mommy didn’t give you permission to buy beer.”

“Excuse me?”

“She told you to buy her some wine and she didn’t say you could buy beer.”

“I don’t need her permission to buy it. Unless she tells me the budget can’t handle it, I can do as I like. I’m a grown man.”

“No, you’re not. You need mommy’s permission.”

Well, so much for my daughter defending me anymore, I guess. That didn’t last long…

Talk to the Stick

Yesterday, picking up my nearly-8-year-old daughter from summer day camp, she shows me this:

Talking-stick_July2013“This is my talking stick, daddy. We made them today,” the little goddess tells me.

Not much of a surprise there. The YMCA does a lot of craft stuff, and each age group of kids is named after a Native American tribe, so doing something tribal-related isn’t anything new. They don’t do it all the time, and I’m never sure how to feel about it and how much is educational vs. cultural appropriation…but then again, Native Americans out here don’t seem to have the kinds of problems or tensions with non-natives as I’m used to in other places I’ve lived.

“I see,” I say. “It’s very nice.”

“When a person is holding the stick, they get to talk,” she tells me, and I don’t have to be looking at her to know there’s a mischievous glint in her eye.

“I’m familiar with the concept,” I tell her.

“And no one else can talk,” she emphasizes, “when I’m holding the stick.”

I know how much she likes to talk…endlessly at times, it seems.

“That’s for tribal meetings,” I tell her, just a little bit smugly, to make sure she knows I’m on to her. “It’s meant to keep people from interrupting until it’s their turn.”

“I know,” she says. “But I’m holding the stick right now. Only I can talk.”

“And we’re not Native American and this isn’t a meeting and I’m your daddy and I will talk when I think I need to, whether you’re holding that stick or not.”

She pauses mentally as we walk.

“It was worth a shot,” the little goddess says.


K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Sweetie

So, I went to the neighborhood center my wife runs today at around their closing time, so that she, our daughter (who was visiting the center to do art and hang out) and myself could go a couple doors down to grab dinner at the local faux Southwestern/Mexican restaurant (they do make awesome margaritas, though). My wife had to finish up with some employees/volunteers so I hang out with my wee girl.

At one point, for whatever reason, the little goddess crosses her arms like she’s in a b-boy stance, with one hand sticking out from under her crossed arms, making a peace sign, as she says, “Peace, yo.”

Then she puts her hand out in the peace sign, with her other hand cocked on her hip in a “sassy girl” kind of pose.

“So, Daddy, which one did you like better? Which one should I use?”

I’m wondering when she’s going to need either one, frankly, but instead I say: “Um, I don’t know. The peace sign’s been around since at least the 1960s. How about you just stick your hand out, do the sign, and say, ‘Peace’ without the ‘yo’ or the ‘sass’?”

She didn’t have any answer for me except that look that says, You are such a dinosaur.

And, considering I only just found out today after several years of blogging what a favicon is and how to get my blogs to display one, she’d probably right in that thought.

I still say the peace sign doesn’t need any stylistic embellishment though.

Same Thing, Right?

In the grocery store tonight with my 7-year-old girl, as we breeze past the checkout lanes toward the bananas in the produce section:

The Goddess: Daddy, what’s a tampon?

Me: Well, it’s…you know when Mommy has her “lady time of month” and…

The Goddess: Oh, no! No no no no no no no…

(I pause, wondering why she’d be bothered by this discussion as often as topics of menstruation and PMS come up in the household)


Me (not missing a beat): Tabloids?

The Goddess: Yes! Daddy, how do they get the photos for those?

I answer her question and explain paparazzi and such but, really, all my mind can think of is: Tabloid. Tampon. Is there really much difference? They both soak up a lot of unpleasant material and get tossed away quickly.

Seeing the Silver Lining in a Squirrel Invasion

So, for the past couple days, we’ve been hearing scrabbling sounds in the wall near our washer and dryer in the kitchen of our big, old (more than a century) house. So, the wife and I have been concerned that mice, a rat, a chipmunk or a squirrel had somehow gotten up in there from the basement and was going to chew through our wires and cause our house to burn down at any moment.

We finally got someone to come out today, after we’d already determined it was in an old sealed chimney (sealed from the bottom, at least) and not in our wall. Dude looked down there, and reported back to us we had a mama squirrel and a litter of babies sucking at the teats.

Good news? They can’t get into the house. Bad news? We need to wait until the babies are grown enough to climb up and be caught in traps, so we get to hear the scrabbling noises for a couple more weeks.

So, I tell our little goddess what’s going on.

“There are squirrels in our chimney?” she asked as I finished telling her why someone had come over and why me and her mom had been concerned the past couple days.

“Yeah, honey. A mommy and her babies. But we can’t get rid of them for a couple weeks until they’re more grown, or they’ll die down there and it will stink inside the house.”

“So, they’re going to be here for a while?” she asks, and I begin to think maybe she’s getting nervous.

“Yeah, sweetie, but they can’t get in the house. They’re surrounded by brick and can’t get through that.”

Her eyes widen, and I’m concerned maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all.

“Ohhhhhhhhhh,” she says, in a low, sing-song voice. “Baby squirrels! We have a squirrel family.”

Then I realize she’s excited by the idea of a rodent family nesting in our house.

In my head: They ain’t stayin’ my sweetheart. Oh, no. They aren’t pets. So don’t get attached.

But I can see it now. My daughter hovering near the kitchen, waiting for the scritchy-scratchy of little pest feet.

Six Degrees of…Utter Madness !!!!!

Remember the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game? You know, how many degrees of separation exist between any film celebrity you can name and Kevin Bacon (or some other actor via Kevin Bacon), who once jokingly claimed to have worked with everyone in Hollywood? Rarely could you get more than six people distant, and it probably works with any actor or other folks involved in films, I’d guess. For example:

Michelle Pfeiffer to Julia Ormond (via Kevin Bacon)

1. Pfeiffer to Jack Nicholson in “The Witches of Eastwick”
2. Nicholson to Kevin Bacon in “A Few Good Men”
3. Bacon to Brad Pitt in “Sleepers”
4. Pitt to Julia Ormond in “Legends of the Fall”

Linked in four degrees

If you have ever had a child with any level of serious curiosity about life and the kind of focus normally only seen in butterflies with ADHD (in other words, 90+% of kids) or spent plenty of time around a much younger relative, you will know that every topic has only a few degrees of separation from any other topic, no matter how illogical it might seem to leap from one to the other, and the speed with which the topic changes can be dizzying.

For example, Pisces to flying cars via my daughter.

In the car last week, my daughter asked about Pisces.

This led to a discussion of the Zodiac and astrology…

…which led to a discussion of adoption and child abandonment (“What if a child is adopted, Daddy? They wouldn’t know the birthday to know what animal sign the baby was”)

…which led to me barely avoiding the still-too-early in my opinion “birds-and-bees” discussion, dodged by me simply clarifying that a man and a woman are needed for a baby to be made, but only the mommy needs to be present for birth (“Daddy, how could a girl have a baby if the boy wasn’t there”)

…which led to discussion of early human-like hominids/proto-people/cavemen, with dashes of evolution tossed in plus speculation on how fire was “discovered.” (“Daddy, the whole deal with cavemen was that they spent their time looking for fire or trying to make it, right?”)

…which led to a discussion of extinction followed immediately by advanced genomics and possible future cloning technology (“So scientists could have a person’s hair maybe and make a person from that? Like in ‘Spongebob?’ Or create a polar bear, which are going to be extinct soon, right?”)

…leading to a discussion of hovercraft and the fact we could make flying cars, but why it would be a really bad idea if most people were allowed to operate such vehicles (“Daddy, won’t it be cool when we can have flying cars and floating schools?”)

So that’s what…six degrees of separation (more or less) between an astrological sign and advanced transportation technology?

In any case, while I’m glad to have filled my daughter’s head with a combination of useful knowledge, trivia and a number of things that she will immediately forget about and ask me to explain again soon, this meant some 60 minutes or more (while driving mostly) of nearly non-stop talking on my part. By the time we got home from the errand we ran, I was literally lightheaded.

Moral of the story: If you can’t handle a police interrogation or intense job interview, do not have a child.

I’m Queen! Or Princess! Anyway, I’m the Boss of You

Me: Sweetie, did you wash your entire body?

Daughter: Yes.

Me: That just seemed like an awfully quick bath.

Daughter: (exaggerated indignation) Are you calling me a liar?!

Me: Let’s just say I’m questioning your attention to detail.

Daughter: (imperious tone) How DARE you!

Me: I dare to do a lot of things. I’m the daddy.

Daughter: You do not command ME!

Me: That’s a matter of opinion.

Daughter: I am a queen and I command YOU.

Me: You are not the queen around here.

Daughter: You’re right; I’m the princess, and I still rule over you.

(Laughter from wife in the other room)

Me: I think not.

Daughter: You have offended me and I sentence you to 10 years detention in my dungeon, where you will do very hard math problems and if you can’t solve them you will have to do drawings that are very, very nice or you will be in the dungeon for TWENTY YEARS!

Me: Good luck with that. You have no minions. All you have are stuffed animals, action figures and dolls and I can take them.