Posts Tagged ‘children

12
Aug
12

I Murdered the Tooth Fairy

I sit here now, glittery sparkling blood on my hands as I type. I can’t wash it off, any more than Lady Macbeth’s incessant hand washing could remove the memory of what horrors she had unleashed and sins she had committed. *Sigh* Where do I begin? I suppose with a simple fact. A simple statement.

This afternoon, I killed the Tooth Fairy.

Granted, I wasn’t trying to. I wanted to save her. I wanted to preserve her. But her death is now laid at my feet.

Such a sudden thing it was, too. I took my darling daughter, who just a couple weeks ago turned 7, to the children’s museum in Portland, Maine, so that our favorite grown woman (her mother, my wife) could have brunch with some people she had wanted to meet for a while. We had barely finished paying for admission and then walking to the first room in the museum when Little Girl Blue said, calmly and without preamble, “Daddy, is the Tooth Fairy real, or do you and Mommy put the money under my pillow? Please be totally honest.”

In that moment, I realized I had been asked a question only slightly less distressing to parents than “What is sex?” or “Can I get a belly button piercing?” I did not pause, but simply led her to a small bench somewhat away from the other kids, sat down with her, and asked, “Do you really want to know?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re sure you want to ask this question, even though the answer may change things in your life?”

“Yes. Please be honest.”

Twice now she had stressed honesty, and so there was no other path. Before, when a Kindergartner in her first year of school had told her the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real, Mrs. Blue simply asked, “What do you believe? What do you want to think? That’s all that matters.” My wife’s words (and clever ploy) were enough then, and they were true words, and Little Girl Blue continued to believe. Now, though, she was pressing me to be honest. I’m not sure why I drew this short straw, but I don’t think it would have been any different had my wife been the one with her at that moment; Little Girl Blue knows we’ll speak truth when asked, and most other times as well.

“Well, Honey, before I answer your question, let me ask you this: If it turns out Mommy and Daddy are the ones giving you the money, and I confirm that, do you think that there will still be money under your pillow in the future?” She was still young enough not to realize that I had essentially admitted the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real, but I was banking on that childish naivete so that she could still have an out if she wanted it.

She muddled over that for a few moments, then said, “Yes! …um, maybe not. I guess no. But I want to know.”

“I’m going to ask you one more time: Are you sure?” I queried, quietly but intently. “Sometimes, getting an honest answer to things changes things in ways you might not like. Do you still want me to answer?”

“Yes. I do.”

I put my arm around her and leaned in close, and said in almost a whisper, “No, Honey. The Tooth Fairy isn’t real. That’s Mommy and Daddy.”

“OK, Daddy,” she said after a short pause to let that sink in. “Thanks for telling me.”

“You’re welcome,” I said, and then played my last card to let magic be in her world a bit longer. “Frankly, I don’t know if any fairies are assigned any tooth-related duties. And they sure wouldn’t be carrying human money around, now would they?”

“No, they wouldn’t. I still believe in fairies, Daddy. Just not the Tooth Fairy.”

“That’s good, Honey. There are all kinds of strange and wonderful things in the world, even if they haven’t been proven they exist and even if we’ve never seen them.” Then I lowered my voice even more, and looked at the other kids in the room in a way that she couldn’t help but notice. “Don’t tell other kids, honey. Kids have told you the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, when you would have figured it out yourself someday. And you found out earlier than you probably needed to. But don’t ruin it for another kid. Let them ask the question when they’re ready to ask their parents. Some parents and kids don’t think about that; some purposely want to end that belief for other people because they think it’s stupid. So please don’t do it to anyone.”

“I won’t, Daddy.”

I thought I was done until later in our children’s museum visit, when we were sitting down to a snack and she asked, “Are there any other magical things in my life that you and Mommy have told me about that aren’t real?”

Shit. So soon? The dominoes all ready to fall, all at once, on the same day?

“Do you have a specific question?”

“Are any other magical things in my life that aren’t real?”

“No, do you have a question about some specific thing?”

“I can’t think of one right now. But are there any other things?”

I paused only a moment, torn about what I should do, and then said, “I’m not going to answer that question. It’s too broad. Honey, we’ve had to tell you about horrible things sometimes, like people who hurt kids and people who kill people for no good reason. We’ve had to let you know about some bad things in life, and I think you should have as much magic as you can in life. For as long as you can. If you have a question about a specific thing, you can ask Mommy or me about it, and we’ll be truthful. But I won’t answer the question you just asked. But you can ask the questions about each thing as you want to. When you want to.”

“OK, Daddy. Thank you for being honest.”

And so, Santa Claus, the Birthday Fairy (Akimahs), the Leprechaun and the Easter Bunny have a reprieve. Not sure how long, but for a little while, at least.

It may seem weird, but I do feel guilty about the Tooth Fairy’s demise. My honesty killed her, and no matter how much that honesty was needed then, I still feel bad. That bit of magic is fun for the parents and the kids. The loss of that magic is a sign of my daughter’s maturity, and that’s a good thing; it warms my heart. But at the same time, it’s bittersweet. It makes me mourn for her childhood already, knowing that it is fast receding the closer she gets to tween and teen years.

But she still believes in fairies; that’s good. Mrs. Blue does, too, more or less. And we all believe in angels, because we’ve known at times when they’ve moved in our lives. So, it’s not all bad.

But Santa, Leprechaun, Easter Bunny and Akimahs: Draw up your wills and settle any unfinished business now.

You may not be long for Little Girl Blue’s world.

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27
Jul
11

Conversations with the Kiddo

Little Girl Blue, soon to be clocking her sixth year outside the womb, is an amazing little girl. She’s a charming human being, full of love and curious about the world. Her verbal skills and eloquence are amazing—easily a year or two ahead of most of her peers. She can memorize and perform entire scenes from Scooby-Doo movies and Eloise episodes. She’s a talented little artist at times, too (although she really needs to work on her gluing skills and effective use of mixed media).

But sometimes, she just makes me say to myself, silently but firmly: What the fuck?

Today has been one of the more interesting days of bewilderment on my part, as exemplified by three conversations that each represent a hellish archetype to which I and Mrs. Blue are regularly subjected.

The I Can’t Effectively Manage Time Conversation

Not that I expect Little Girl Blue to be an effective time-manager, but this kind of conversation is one she has been routinely coached against pursuing, yet she refuses to heed me. I estimate I have lost at least four years of productive time due to these kinds of conversations with her, and she’s only turning six this month.

Daughter: “Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, Honeybunch?”

Daughter: “Can I ask you a question?”

Me: “OK”

Daughter: (long pause)

Me: “Ask the question, Sweetie. Please.”

Daughter: “Well, I was thinking…you see…[insert out of context transitional clause here]…what I was thinking was…you know how [insert situation with possibly relevant role in conversation but probably not]…So what I wanted to know was…[insert actual question here].”

Me: “Whoa. You’ve completely lost me. Try that again.”

Daughter: (raises voice to a near shout) “WHAT I’M ASKING IS…DO…YOU…KNOW…[insert actual question here, more clearly and succinctly stated than before, but presented in loud one-word increments separated by one full second between each word, thus causing me to quickly lose comprehension.]”

Me: “I could hear you before. Could you try just speaking normal speed and normal volume and just ask the question without giving me all the backstory?”

Daughter: [insert totally intelligible and articulate question here]

Me: [insert appropriate answer here.]

Daughter: “Thanks, Daddy.”

Me: “You’re welcome, Honey. You know, we could save a lot of time if you at least didn’t keep saying ‘Daddy’ and then waiting for me to respond and then saying you have a question and waiting for me to respond to that. You could just come right out and ask the question right off the bat. It would be way more efficient.”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Daughter: (somewhere between one and ten minutes later) “Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, Honey?”

Daughter: “I have a question…”

P.S. The above kind of conversation most often occurs, and with more intensity, when I am driving and trying to concentrate on us not dying in an impact with one of the many clueless local drivers or, worse yet, the even more clueless out-of-town tourists.

The Please Drop the Subject Already Conversation

This conversation is about as close to verbatim as I can manage from today’s actual experiences. Refusing to drop a topic that is annoying to me is a common feature of life with Little Girl Blue, and many of them follow the same pattern as the one below.

Daughter: “Daddy, did you and Mommy say you liked that restaurant we just passed?”

Me: “No. In fact, about every second or third time we pass it and you ask that question, we’ve told you we couldn’t stand the place.”

Daughter: “Oh, I thought you liked it.”

Me: “You always say that. But we’ve never said one good thing about it, and you ask about that restaurant more and more often when we drive down this road. We don’t like it. At all. Not one bit.”

Daughter: “What don’t you like about it?”

Me: “The food is garbage and the service stinks and it’s not even all that inexpensive so it’s not remotely worth visiting.”

Daughter: “So you and Mommy don’t like eating there?”

Me: “No. I’m sure someone must like it, because they’re still in business after all these years, but we’re probably never going to go there again. So, there’s no reason to talk about it.”

Daughter: “What if someone forced you to go eat there?”

Me: “What?”

Daughter: “What if someone made you guys go eat there?”

Me: “Why would someone do that?”

Daughter: “Because…I don’t know. They need to pass a test? Or they’re really mean?”

Me: “Well, the chances of someone doing that…look, why do you always imagine these crazy scenarios? I mean, I like imagination and all, but why every time I give you a simple answer you have to counter it with some really off-the-wall scenario that doesn’t even make sense or just tell me the opposite of what I said is true even though it’s clear that I know what I’m talking about?”

Daughter: “I just do.”

Me: “Well, even if someone did try to force me to eat there, what makes you think I’d let them? Do you think I do things every time someone tries to force me?”

Daughter: “No.”

Me: “OK. Good. Look, we don’t like the food there, we’re probably never going to eat there again, and no one’s going to force us to. End of story. Cool?”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.” (a few seconds pass) “Daddy, do you think the cooks there are bad cooks?”

Me: “No. They might be good cooks. But they have to cook the way the restaurant owners say to cook. And the owners probably buy crappy ingredients and don’t have good recipes and make the cooks rush to get stuff out instead of doing it right. I mean, if I buy a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s and cook it according to the directions and it ends up sucking, that’s not the fault of me. I know how to follow the directions and I know how to cook well from scratch. It was the meal in the box that stunk. The restaurant could have people who know how to cook when they’re allowed to use good stuff. But I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. I want to stop talking about that restaurant now. In fact, I don’t ever want to talk about it again.”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.”

Me: “Cool.”

Daughter: (one minute later). “Daddy, what do you think I would think of the food at that restaurant?”

Me: [insert possibly inappropriate frustration-induced language followed by a fervent plea to just drop the subject already.]

The Zero Information Conversation

In this kind of conversation, absolutely no useful information whatsoever is conveyed to me, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how Little Girl Blue even imagined for a moment I would have any need to hear about the non-topic of conversation. In fact, some of these conversations impart so little information that I think it’s a “negative information” conversation and that information is being sucked out of my brain instead of inserted into it, increasing my chances of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The conversation below occurred as I was trying to wash Little Girl’s Blue hair before bedtime tonight.

Daughter: “So, you said that someone you trust said ‘Zookeeper’ was a bad movie?”

Me: “Uh, yeah. I mean, I saw some reviews and some people I know online have said it was a totally worthless movie.”

Daughter: “Oh. You know someone I trust said there was some new superhero movie out and that no one should waste their money on it. Captain American something.”

Me: “There’s a Captain America movie that just came out. A lot of people say they don’t like it and a lot of people say they do like it. So it’s not a movie like ‘Zookeeper’ where most folks say it stinks.”

Daughter: “So some people like it and some people don’t. Well, there was a real person on TV who said we shouldn’t waste our money on it.”

Me: “TV? The ‘person you trust’ is a movie reviewer or something on the television? (long pause) Wait, wait…where would you have seen a movie review on TV? None of the channels you watch have movie reviews.”

Daughter: “I don’t know. I just did.”

Me: “When? And what channel were you on?”

Daughter: “At the beginning of July.”

Me: “Honey, the beginning of July was like three weeks ago, and the movie wasn’t even out yet at that time. So that couldn’t be true. Are you just making this up?”

Daughter: “No.”

Me: “So when did this happen and what were you watching on TV?”

Daughter: “The middle of July.”

Me: “Honey, the middle of July was a week or so ago, and the movie still wasn’t out then, so no one could have known whether it was a good movie or a bad one. The month is almost over. So could you please tell me once and for all when this happened and where you saw it and what it was about?”

Daughter: “I don’t know.”

Me: “So, you’re telling me that at some point in time you can’t remember when, you were watching some channel you never watch but can’t remember what it is now, where you saw someone say ‘don’t waste your money’ seeing a movie that you don’t know what it was. You basically started a conversation based on absolutely no information I could possibly make use of or make sense of. Are you trying to drive me insane?”

Daughter: (shrugs)

So, if you wonder why I might seem snarky or even slightly insane at times, now you know why. But if you have a kid (or kids) yourself, you probably understood that already. Guess I’ll keep Little Girl Blue, though. She’s personable and has lots of potential, she makes pretty pictures for me, she’s really nice to her teachers and friends and she gives great hugs and kisses.

Besides, the hospital doesn’t seem to have a return policy and I doubt Mrs. Blue has the original receipt anymore for the darling (and maddening) little girl.

20
Jun
09

Pre-Father’s Day

So, tomorrow is Father’s Day. If my little girl wasn’t frequently mentioning that she and Mommy need to work on my secret gift, I’d probably not even realize it was coming.

That isn’t to say that I don’t think it’s a fine day. It’s a good excuse to call my own Dad, since he isn’t the most talkative sort and weekly or even once a month phone calls would probably be stretching our conversational material. Much better to interact with him in person, where long silences can be comfortable instead of awkward. I mean, silences on the phone have got to be the most awkward of all.

Also, it isn’t that I don’t like being appreciated myself as a father. I really do.

But I guess I just feel a little weird, and even guilty, at having a whole day that is supposed to be about me, simply because I have highly motile sperm (with the rapidity of which Mrs. Blue has conceived on the couple occasions we went off the birth control options, I could have myself a very old-school Catholic-sized family apparently…apparently, fertility is not one of the problems we face.)

I mean, I love when my wife recognizes me for good fathering (she also has been known to lambast me about some things, too, so don’t go sending me a “perfect father” trophy). I adore when Little Girl Blue tells me I’m a great daddy or when Son of Blue gives me his honest and loving admiration and respect, just because he feels moved to do so. Those things warm my heart. They are honest and can move me almost to tears sometimes.

But at the same time, I don’t feel like a fantastic provider right now because, frankly, I’m not. Career changes and economy have not been kind. So, when I think about all the things I couldn’t do for my wife on Mother’s Day…or her birthday…or Valentine’s Day…or our anniversary, I feel a strong sense of guilt that Mrs. Blue and Little Girl Blue are working so hard to give me things and bake me things and cook me things. (Son of Blue is away at a political science-style camp, so he’s not involved in all this.)

In the tradtion of Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World,” I just want to shout, “I’m not worthy!” Maybe I am, but I don’t feel like it. Not worthy enough for a day to be devoted to me.

Maybe that’s my own Dad in me. He never really cared that much to celebrate his birthday or Father’s Day or anything. He’s a humble guy, and that’s probably rubbed off on me.

Anyway, Happy Fathers’ Day, a day in advance, for all my fellow dads out there.

02
Dec
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Kids by Deacon Blue

colors-of-the-worldSince Miz Pink went and got all sappy with her kid story on Saturday (actually, it was a cute story), let’s make our Two-fer Tuesday topic “Kids.” I’ll start.

No, not going to talk about sparing the rod and spoiling the child.

Not going to go over that stuff about honoring our mothers and fathers.

Already talked about Jesus telling us to “suffer the little children.”

OK, Bible down. I have no doubt I could expound upon spiritual stuff related to kids. Instead, let me give you some real advice, and this is mostly aimed at people who don’t yet have kids, or are about to have kids for the first time soon. But I’m sure even existing parents can get a tickle out of this, too.

Checklist

  • Before you have a child, think really, really hard about how hard you think raising a child will be.
  • Double that.
  • Then add on the stress of working for the world’s most demanding and least flexible boss (for at least four years).
  • To that, add the idea of serving in an extended sleep-deprivation experiment (for at least a year, possibly two).
  • Now imagine being denied regular access to the forms of entertainment you have come to rely on (movies, sex, clubbing, etc.) for roughly five years, give or take.
  • If you are having your first child and you are in your late 30s to mid-40s, increase that total amount by 50%, because you are already getting set in your ways even if you don’t think so.
  • Finally, if you are having your first ever child at the age of 55 or older, and you are doing this on purpose, please check into a mental health facility now.

All that being said, children are a joy, and the first time you get an honest “I love you” or a wet sloppy kiss on the cheek, your world will change forever, and for the better. There are few, if any, jobs more rewarding than being a good parent—at least trying to be a good one.

But oh, do those kids work the nerves sometimes. 😉

02
Dec
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Kids by Miz Pink

pink-cat-childI love my kids. Sometimes I’m not so sure about other people’s kids.

Okay, I’m usually not sure of other peoples kids. Its easier to get annoyed at them but still I often smile when I see a strange baby or some other person’s toddler or preschooler galavanting around.

But as nice as kids are to have, the more important thing is being able to raise them right and the problem is that a lot of people have kids and don’t consider that.

They don’t consider whether they have the resources or patience or skill or support or anything else to put the kid on a good path.

Too many people have kids for reasons like this:

  • Hold on to a man they are afraid of losing/pin down a woman at home that man is afraid of losing
  • Because kids are so cute (or worse yet, “my kids are too big to cuddle now and I want something new to play with while I make them fend for themselves”)
  • Because I can
  • Because I don’t care to be responsible enought to bother with birth control.
  • Because if I can’t afford it, the state will pay/I can give it away/the other parent will take care of it while I split.

Having kids and raising them is a huge responsibility. I see some Christian brothers and sisters online who seem to think that the problem with today’s youth is that they don’t marry soon enough. These folks think that if kids got married and had kids earlier they’d be more responsible. I shudder to think of that. I think of big families in my extended family tree where they started young and what happened was a lot of bad parenting because there wasn’t enough maturity, or time for the kids…and then older kids are placed into parental or baby sitting roles that they aren’t ready for. I’m all for pitching in, but there were folks in my family in recent generations that basically handed the babies off to the older kids and didn’t do crap themselves half the time.

God entrusts us with these new lives and he expects us to take care of them and to take the job seriously. To do anything less is an affront and an insult.

29
Nov
08

Cracking the Code by Miz Pink

little-girl-in-pinkAs I’m nursing Mini Pink Model 3 and talking to Sir Pink about stuff to do with the family unit this weekend, I decide to put forth the idea that we might take the brood out to Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant for crappy pizza and loud noises and kids running all around…you know, the kind of stuff our children will like (well, Mini Pink Model 1 he’ll tolerate it for the pizza and endless sodas and a couple of the video games there…and the fact he can fart around with little sis).

Not wanting to get the hopes of Mini Pink Model 2 up (she loves Chuck E. Cheese’s), I decide to speak in code, in what I thought was a pretty creatively entertaining and preschool child impregnable code.

“Honey, what if we went to Charles Edward Fromage this weekend?”

(Fromage, for you uncultured sorts, is French for cheese.) 😉

Without skipping a beat, and before Sir Pink can even answer, little preschool girl Mini Pink Model 2 brightens up and says, “We’re going to Chuckie Cheese?”

I’m not one to assume that my kids are geniuses just because they use more words than other kids in their class or potty trained early or whatever and I won’t start now but I think I may have to look at educational options for Mini Pink Model 2 a lot more closely. There’s no way she should have been able to figure that out.

Not that any of you are going to learn anythning from that. I just thought it was cool to share one of those moments of breakthrough/milestone stuff where you realize with both sadness (I’ve lost another way to keep “need to know only” info out of my child’s head) and joy (gosh, she’s smarter than even my optimistic self expected) that your child is growing up fast. And here I am holding another one that’s going to run me down that path once again and for one last time.

(Just for the record, my preschool kid is even cuter than the one in the picture.)

13
Nov
08

Page 123…Ignoring the Child

book-cover-children-of-godWas passing through the Caffeinated Thoughts blog and saw this post, titled “Page 123 Meme.” Even though I wasn’t tagged as part of this meme, and thus under no pressure to follow it or to tag anyone I knew, I was intrigued.

The idea is to pick the book nearest to you that has at least 123 pages, go to the 123rd page, find the fifth sentence, and then post the next three sentences after that.

Out of curiosity, I grabbed the closest book, the science fiction novel Children of God by Mary Doria Russell, and flipped to page 123 (by the way, this book is a sequel to Russell’s The Sparrow, that previous book being far superior…but Children of God is damn good, too). I worked with the assumption that in finding the fifth sentence, I should only count complete sentences and not the partial one that starts off the page.

What I came up with was:

“Her parents ignored her. Best thing that could have happened! They were so busy fighting over Carlo, they never got around to making a mess of their daughter.”

And I thought, “What the hell? Might as well make that the kicking off point for a blog post…” And, as it happens, it actually fits into a new position my wife has just taken on.

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jesus-child-and-holy-spiritSometimes, perhaps, it is better when a bad parent simply ignores a child. I’m not offering that up as advice, mind you. I think that bad parents should strive to be better ones. I think that parents who choose to ignore any of their children should wake the hell up and start paying attention. We should all seek after love and aim to give love to our kids.

But having said that, some parents can only hurt their children. And if a parent is abusive, or emotionally toxic, or a hopeless addict, or in some other way only fit to screw up a child, maybe it’s better for the child to not get much from that parent.

The problem is that the child is ill-equipped to raise himself or herself. There are exceptions of course, but by and large a child left to his or her own devices and denied the love and support of at least one parent will end up screwed up anyway. Whether more or less screwed up than the effed-up parent(s) would have made them, who knows?

For this reason, it is critical that we be there for those kinds of children.

Mrs. Blue just started work for a Christian-based organization that provides a place for at-risk preteens and teens to hang out for a few hours each day, get a snack, be safe and get some positive reinforcement from people who do care. As my wife has discovered, many of these kids have parents who really don’t give a shit about them.

But we cannot rely simply on organizations like that to do that work. If you know a relative who is a physically or emotionally absent parent, and the other parental partner isn’t any better, step up and be a role model or a supporter of that relative’s kid or kids. At least try.

If you are in a position to interact with kids in the neighborhood and not be mistaken for a child molester, keep any eye out for those who seem to want or need a connection with a sane adult and who don’t already have one at home.

Volunteer for organizations that help at-risk kids. Be a mentor or Big Brother or Big Sister.

Not all of us can do these things. But all of us should look to see if we can, and we should be open to the possiblity of doing so if the opportunity arises. Everyone who does step up is one more person who might be able to save one more kid from a destructive path.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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E-Mail

You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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For my public profile, click here.

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My superhero fiction blog, click here

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Raising the Goddess

My parenting blog, click here

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