It’s the flagship of a generation. The first generation, in fact, to spend its camera time pointed at the taker, and not the scenery. Just as the cassette tape is foreign to them, so too is the notion that I must snap shots of my mug at close intervals.
Emily of the Just Being Emily blog researched the selfie’s origins. She discovered that Robert Cornelius of the 1800s was a selfie trailblazer.
My girls have absconded with my iPhone for a flurry of selfies. So a week ago here on the CD, I opened the floor to a kid selfie contest like no other.
UNC Charlotte was a commuter school under construction. We didn’t have football. We played basketball off-campus. We were the dumb little brother to UNC-Chapel Hill. Kids would rather stay home and watch the ACC on TV than go to games.
Now, people care on campus, and in the community.
When I see people wearing green and gold, I can say, “GO NINERS!” and I’ll get a woot-woot or a fist bump. It’s kind of awesome. We have a long way to go, though, to have traditions like some schools. Such as Virginia Tech.
Grace tiptoed behind me into the kitchen to ask her question.
She knows I love her, because I always hold out six plain wings for her 8-year-old taste buds when I make them spicy for her sisters and I kiss her face and sing songs about her even if she doesn’t particularly want me to right then.
“Would you die for me?”
To die for her would be to let her down in a way, so I have to measure my words carefully.
How do you tell a baby that yes, you’d die for her, but that you’d rather not? It’s better to stick around for when she starts middle school and high school and finds the going rough on the soccer field or in home room or in the mall when a friend thinks it’s a great idea to steal earrings. Just one pair.
I would die for her.
What dad wouldn’t die for his daughter?
So, why is a freckle-faced second grader asking me this?
It began with a “back in my day” discussion with her sisters about the genre of rap music, today so wrapped up in a new holy trinity – money rolls, cars and clothes. Oh, and women. Nameless women. Clubs. Affirmations of toughness and manhood and degradation of women, to make things simple.
I told the girls about conscious rap in the early 90s, music written from the souls of men amidst social upheaval following the L.A. riots. Attempts to personify a plight of young black men and young Mexicans who found their voices with those of Dr. Dre and the Wu-Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg.
“Would you die for me, daddy?”
It’s more than 20 years later, a 2,453-mile drive from Rodney King’s run-in with police, and here I am, all brown on the outside, but white on the inside, raised in a white neighborhood and as close to any inner-city heritage as I am from Canadian ice fishing, and I’m talking the talk like I lived it.
I tell the girls about the iconic dad way back then who, right about this time of year, heard the outrage and fury of the young men around him, black and brown, filled with anger and revenge. He lifted his young daughter onto his shoulders, and, in a soundbite that resonated throughout a culture and a music genre, uttered perhaps the greatest dad quote of our generation:
“I’m gonna tell you right now. If I have to die today for this little African right here to have a future, I’m a dead mother****er.”
“Would you die for me, daddy? And, how would that work?”
I scooped up Grace, fortunate that my fight to live for her would probably be such a smoother ride than the unnamed father I’ll always admire. I’ll likely never understand the day-to-day struggles he and his little African knew.
Our neighborhoods are worlds away, but our bond is in fatherhood.
My most conceivable roadblock to living well for my little American? It’s probably my own health. I should eat a salad and make sure I wear my seatbelt. We’re not far from crime and stray bullets where we live, but we’re not immersed in it.
I explain a bit of this to Grace, so she won’t imagine a Hunger Games style of test in store for me to prove my devotion to her. Rather than die, I will live.
We talked a bit about it. About the heart on my driver’s license and what it means for me as an organ donor. About the fact that if a tiger or rhino or allosaurus should ever chase us down the street in search of a meal, I will stay back and wrestle to the death.
She has strict instructions to climb a tree or find a policeman and live to be 100.
The radio volume is up, the song plays, the lyrics get belted out… Everybody have fun tonight – everybody Wang Chung tonight! Or, She’s a brick – house. She’s mighty-mighty. Letting it all hang out!
Take it … to the limit … take it … to the limit. Take it. To the limit. One more tiiiiiiiiime …
It’s our thing, to guess who sings the song on the radio. It’s evolved. My girls know the songs. They know the lyrics. They know I’m going to ask, “Who sings this, girls?” They’re starting to remember now, though.
She’s highly-recommended reading, amigos. Add her to Google reader before time runs out. On Google reader, that is.
I have a confession to make. Attachment parenting was never my “thing.” There are times I felt a bit criminal over this, coming of age as a mother during the era of Dr. Sears sensibility.
“Breastfeed on demand and let the baby take the lead on weaning!”
“Keep your baby close at all times by wearing her in a sling!”
“Never deny a child the chance to co-sleep if they ask.”
Fail, fail, and fail.
But there were more failures on top of these. My kids went to day care, which made me a pariah in some circles. They didn’t always get that requisite hour of floor time with me at night when I got home, and the dirtiest confession of all:
When I’m not working and have the opportunity to spend time with my kids, there are still times that I prefer to leave the house alone.
Let’s face it, even if you are the most hands-on, attached parent in the world, there are situations where children don’t belong. For me, these are five instances where I’d prefer to leave my kids behind.
Living in New Jersey comes with its own brand of crazy. We’re the most densely populated state in the union, which is never more apparent than when I try to navigate a New Jersey wholesale club on a Saturday with three children. In a store like Costco, we literally have to elbow our way through Snookis and Pauly D.’s to get to the produce aisle or the bakery.
Want to score some cheesecake or pizza from a sample cart? Fuggedaboutit! The certainty of your getting to the front of that line safely is about as certain as my fellow New Jerseyan Tony’s fate in that final episode of “The Sopraonos.”
Keeping my kids out of Costco is simply being protective of their well-being. Back in the day, I walked out of mosh pits with fewer injuries.
2. Yoga Class
If I get stuck without a babysitter on a night I teach yoga, I plunk my kids down in the back room of the studio while I help you get your zen on. Honestly, you’ll have a better chance of finding your zen in Costco than performing sun salutations with my unruly brood raising hell down the hallway.
My kids will find anything to fight about, and they fight loud. While I want you to get in touch with your enlightened side in my class, enlightenment can easily be upstaged by three boisterous children.
I know this one sounds counterintuitive, but I should never have to take my children to school, since they are supposed to ride the bus…unless of course they miss it, which is often. The problem is that any minor attachment parenting skill I have is at its worst in the a.m.
I wish I could tell you that I spend my mornings cooking my kids organic spelt waffles from scratch for breakfast followed by a group meditation session to set good intentions for the day, but you’re more likely to find me screaming at them from the shower to brush their teeth and my running around in circles trying to find clean clothing to wear to work.
4. The Nail Salon
A few months ago, I decided to “squeeze in a pedicure” between Saturday afternoon errands with my youngest daughter in tow. Except, the experience wasn’t the same while trying to entertain a 4-year-old. When it comes down to it, a pedicure is about more than maintaining your feet.
It’s time to catch up on People Magazine and US Weekly or have uninterrupted texting chats with your best friend. Is it not?
5. Dora Live
I’m not here to knock Dora. She’s an excellent role model for young girls. She’s a great problem solver. She’s clean cut. She’s clearly the product of good attachment parenting. Yet, after nine years of having Dora in our lives, I’ve given her enough money.
There have been the DVD’s, the backpacks, the action figures, beach towels, sippy cups, puzzles, coloring books, the tent and lawn chair set, and the Dora themed birthday parties. In my rough calculation, I have spent almost eight hundred dollars on Dora merchandise, so purchasing Dora Live tickets at upwards of $40 each for three kids plus myself is not high on my priority list.
Don’t get me wrong. I love live concerts. But the $120 price tag is beyond what I’m willing to spend for just about anyone. Not even the Black Keys for that matter, or Jack White, or Justin Timberlake. OK, maybe for my beloved JT…
I’m not a perfect mother. I’m nowhere close. But for all of the places that I’d rather not take my kids, there are many places where we’ve gone. There’s bowling and the movies, and mini golf, and the self-serve frozen yogurt shop.
There have been the flights to California to visit family, the trip to cheer nationals with my oldest daughter, the warm winter days that we steal away to the beach as soon as they get home from school, and the lazy summer afternoons at the town pool.
There are many more places I wish to take them. Disney World, New Zealand, Tampa for spring training games, surf vacations, cruises, tropical islands, and the list goes on.
If I can get in a pedicure first – alone? I’ll be good to go anywhere.
Ilene Evans, the Creator of The Fierce Diva Guide to Life, is a writer, yoga teacher, soccer mom, foster parent to over a dozen rescue dogs, and a believer in tough love advice as much as she believes in love for all mankind. Transparent, perhaps, to a fault, there is practically nothing Ilene does not blog about.
Hello. Receipt of this letter means you’ve made the intelligent choice of drafting Grace to play on your 7-8 soccer team this season. Congratulations. And warning. I’m watching you. No, I’m not that parent. I’m your friend.
Grace has had the benefit of a top-notch, incredible soccer experience. Yes, all three years of it. She learned technical skills and tactical knowledge and, more important, was allowed to flourish and develop her own sense of the game and all its nuances.
Goodness. What a long, tall drink of water you are. No, not you Brooke Wyckoff. Your six friends there, in the slinky black dresses. I could say, “this sweet set of six will get me through 12 days,” because they’re supposed to be two serving sizes each, but I know as well as you do I’d roll through it in four days. So, go hydrate a picnic, you sexy thangs.
2. A box of Nilla Wafers
Absolutely golden. I’m only on my second item, and I’m already all google-eyed. Nothing’s better than putting two Nilla wafers in your mouth at the same time, bottom to bottom, and chasing it with a swig of cold Pepsi Max. Mmm. But, back you go, to become some grandma’s banana pudding.
In a past life, I’m sure I was a cheese monger who grilled out at Packers games. If a hot dog is a hot rod, then a bratwurst is the space shuttle, with a full tank of gas. I once lost a bratwurst to a resourceful cavalier King Charles spaniel, and have played catch-up since. But, to another’s grill you must go.
4. White Castles
When we bought our fly 1984 GMC Eagle wagon, the dealership gave out free White Castles, mini onion-laced burgers from Kansas designed by Jesus to be eaten in bulk. I dreamed of entering a White Castle eating contest in Chattanooga. But, this box must clog someone else’s freezer, and arteries.
5. Pork rinds
I can find no other way to put this: Pork rinds are to Hispanics as potato chips are to white folk. They serve them at Mexican baseball games, with a goodly dose of Tabasco. They don’t even have any carbs! But they have as much sodium as the Indian Ocean. I’ll let one of my hermanos enjoy this bag.
Plus, what’s a good bag pork rinds without a Pepsi Max to wash them down?
Off to the produce section. I think it’s over there, behind the bakery.
But I’m not sure.
What about you – what item have you recently grabbed, put then put back? And which of these things would you vote back into my cart?