Funny Girl

How cool as a kid
To make your dad sincerely,
Genuinely, laugh.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I fancy myself funny at times. Not always, but many times I am able to get giggles from people.

Therefore, I take special pride in (and way too much credit for) the fact that my 9-year-old daughter, AP, is getting a good sense of humor.

Case in point. Tonight started our end-of-school-year search for the library books that never got returned. Each year about this time, we get a nasty-gram from the librarian about some book that everyone is sure was returned but for some reason wasn’t. AP complained that the book in question was lost because  “Dad threw it off the bed when he came to sleep with me the night I was scared”.

Frank, with some skepticism in his voice, said “When I threw it, did it enter another dimension?”

AP dead-panned: “Yes, yes it did.”

Later she went upstairs to make yet another pass at looking for the book. In my house when something is missing and the searcher does a pathetic job looking for the object and neither looks under or behind things, we call this ” ‘looking’ like a man”, a slam against most men who refuse to do more than peer helplessly about them in hopes the missing item will jump into their field of vision unaided.  I must admit that in my house, the women folk are worse about ” ‘looking’ like a man” than the men folk are, so keeping this in mind…   A few minutes later AP returned to the dinner table and declared she still couldn’t find the book.  Frank, again skeptically given her history of inept searches, said “You know what will happen when I go upstairs to look for the book, don’t you?” And AP, without missing a beat, said “Yes… it will magically appear from the other dimension.”

I couldn’t stop laughing.  That’s my girl.  Not only was her comedic timing perfect (which the retelling here really doesn’t do justice to), but it so beautifully explained all the other searchers where she came up short but Frank was successful. He has special access to another dimension giving him powers we women folk don’t have.

I must use this excuse myself…

Resilience Blooming (or Why My Daughter Rocks!)

Give her the freedom
To roam, fall, pick herself up
And watch strength blossom.
………………………………..
Today I dropped my 9-year-old daughter, AP, off early for a day trip through school. They were taking a bus up to the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus. She was beside herself… kept going on and on about the fancy bus with the plush seats, TV and bathroom. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the bathroom would have a smell unlike any other and really should be avoided or that she would discover that the nauseating bus fumes somehow clung inside your nose for days… She was just too excited at the prospects and the sheer adventure of it all — I didn’t want to spoil it.

Lately I’ve been sitting back watching AP blossom. I haven’t done many posts about my girl – somehow her 5-year-old brother with his public displays of boy part interest and dino obsessions make for more entertaining posts. But I am equally in awe of her.  There is something remarkable about witnessing her little moments of graceful resilience or the spurts of insightful humor that have taken me by surprise lately. I can hardly believe I’m managing to raise such a creature.

My favorite recent example centered on bike riding, an event I did not witness but heard about.  AP hasn’t taken to bike riding on two wheels. Although she accomplished this briefly 2+ years ago, she was almost immediately discouraged by an unexpected and somewhat scary fall (nothing major technically speaking, but emotionally shattering). Since then, she has made a few feeble attempts but her heart hasn’t been in it.

So a few weeks ago, when I got home, imagine my surprise when both kids rushed to meet me, overflowing with stories of 2-wheel triumph.  With dinner cooling on the table, they quickly helmet-ed up and demonstrated.  There were choruses of woo-hoos and fists pumps.  It was a glorious close of day for all.

And then I got the whole story.  Seems that earlier that afternoon, my boy insisted Frank take his training wheels off. A few wobbly pushes later and he had all but mastered two wheels, breezily peddling down our long driveway, dismounting, and waiting to be pushed off again. When AP realized her little brother had done it, succeeded where she had not yet, she was in fits of tears. “Really torn up,” according to her dad. But then she pulled it together, got on her bike, and made it work. Before I knew about her getting upset, I commented how impressed I was that she didn’t let his success bother her, which led her to confess that it did.  “I was really upset and cried a lot.  But then I got on the bike and just kept chanting to myself ‘if my stupid little brother can do this, so can I… if my stupid little brother can do this, so can I.’ And so I did. ” I laughed out loud. Grace under pressure. Resilience defined. I beamed at her.

I want her to be successful in all that she does – what parent doesn’t? But I’m realizing more and more how important the losses are.  That’s where she learns to shine. I’m as proud she learned how to channel her “pissed-off-ness” into some much-needed self-butt-kicking as I would be if she had easily mastered this years ago. Maybe a little more proud, because with age comes the self-awareness of defeat and the pinch of shame, both of which stop many of us cold more often than we care to admit. The sooner she learns how to work her way through that, relying on her own self, the more successful she will be.

So here’s to resilience. Here’s to using humor and stupid little brothers to motivate in times of need. And here’s to little girls blooming, teaching their moms by example, everyday.

Balls (yes, exactly what you are thinking…)

I hug – won’t let go.
Convinced if I squeeze tightly
Kid time will stand still

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I’m not ready for my oldest child (AP, aged 9) to know about sex or things that are sexual in nature. And yet, despite my desire otherwise, it is happening.

The good news is she still talks to me. She was telling me something that she and her girl friends talked about at her birthday-spend-the-night party and it was about sex. She was totally grossed out and upset about what was said, and needed to confess in order to unburden her soul. (no, we are not Catholic, but previous generations were, so I’m guessing it is genetic….) I started by clarifying her definition of sex, which was unfortunately pretty accurate.   A brief discussion ensued and then we moved on to another topic. I hung my soul, defeated, and wept inside.

Yet the revelations continued. At a recent girls group meeting, we were decorating gingerbread cookies. We had small, spherical candies the girls could use for buttons, etc.  A mom remarked to one girl, about her almost completed cookie:  “Are you done? But you don’t have any balls on the front.”

Let the snicker-fest begin. Wait, they didn’t snicker, they laughed out loud.  Raucously.  All of them.

The other mom looked at me in disbelief, barely holding back a laugh herself. I was shocked, stunned.  “You’re too young to find that funny” I said sternly, and I moved on.

Later, I asked my daughter what the laughter was all about (pretending I had no clue) and she once again accurately described the reason they laughed.  I told her I was dismayed that she got that joke… She said she knew what “they”  were for a while.

I spent the next 10 minutes in the car saying to myself, over and over: I can’t believe my little girl knows what balls are… it can’t be true, it just can’t be.

I am so out of touch. Was my childhood totally in a glass house?  Was my generation blissfully ignorant of the “sexual” elements of the world? When did I know what sex was and knew that balls were in a boy’s shorts and not just on the playing field?  Or is my memory simply crap and we snickered about such wicked things at her same age, but I just don’t remember it… Is it all an innocent part of growing up or a terrible consequence of a world steeped in sexual imagery among other too-grown-up things my kids see or hear no matter how much I try to shield them?

I already can’t believe how much more my daughter knows about her body – although that’s my doing. My mom (see previous reference to Catholic) told me nothing about my body, my period, sex… none of it. I am fully convinced that the reason she bought me and my older sister the World Book Encyclopedia was so that we could research sex in the comfort of our room and not ever, ever have to ask her.   I would have no idea about my body if not for that encyclopedia and, more importantly, the Tampax insert.  Oh, and thank God to whomever gave my sister the Our Bodies, Ourselves book (I’m sure it wasn’t my mother!) – I was not at all prepared to take in what I saw and read, but it was a welcome start and a secret reference book for years.

My kid will know more – at the right time – so she isn’t clueless and helpless.  But I am desperate for the information flow to be on my terms, not hers. To be on my timing, not society’s.  To be in a context I set, not someone else.

Net, I’m so screwed (eww, bad pun, sorry). I’m totally unprepared to handle the journey she is inescapably traveling.

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