I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.
Well, okay. I’m not happy. I noticed Hopey Solo – I mean, Hope – trending on Twitter the other night. That can’t be good, I thought. And it wasn’t. Turns out, Boo got suspended for six months for mouthing off after a shootout loss to Sweden in the World Cup.
The USWNT also terminated her contract. She called the Swedes “cowards” for their conservative tactics in a tied match against the U.S. I disagree with her. In my eyes, Sweden played legal tactics that give them the best chance at winning.
Hope’s diatribe was only words. No mammals were traumatized. Amphibians either. It might have lacked class, but Hope responded honestly to a question.
In the midst of a work post, the utter stubbiness of my attention span – and ability to comprehend anything not about food, soccer or Star Wars – couldn’t be ignored. “They didn’t have as much stuff for you to learn back then,” Grace piped up.
“And they didn’t have all the ways we could learn stuff back then.”
Immediately I saw myself in my sabre-toothed tiger jumper, all Paleolithic-like in a schoolhouse like the ones on Little House on the Prairie. Oh, these kids.
I hate putting it that way. I feel like a kid – especially a girl – isn’t bound to compete at every turn. I don’t want any of my girls to feel obligated to take up the fight, for themselves, their families, their race, their gender … their anything.
I learned a ton when Grace took the high road before.
So she didn’t sign up for the LEGO Ninjango Obstacle Course a few weeks ago. I wrote about it here on the CD. She’d even picked out a friend to sign up with. She’d planned it all out, which parts she’s excel and which were better suited for her friend. We’ll call her Jaylen.
Tamara Like Camera here, happily filling in for Eli during his vacation. I remember when I first came to this blog, a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away, and I worried that I would be laughed right out of here, due to my lack of knowledge (of any sort) of futebol or fatherhood. I do, however, have the market cornered on food. And Stormtroopers, for that matter. It only took one Stormtrooper photo to make me a regular reader. Also, he never laughs at me here. And so back I come, each post, learning more and more about the world through Eli’s features and his “Go Ask Daddy” posts. Now my daughter is younger than his three daughters, but she certainly has asked some interesting questions over the last week. Now let’s see what I can do with them, shall we?
I think I remember one of the first times it happened. Scarlet and I were walking back home after our long walk to the mailbox, while (then) baby Des was sleeping, and she asked me: “Mama, what makes wind blow?” Barely looking up from my latest edition of Us Weekly, I replied, “Oh, I don’t freakin’ know.” And then we both giggled and giggled all the way home, where I made a mental note to at least look up the answer for her so she wouldn’t think I was a total deadbeat. I was not proud. Of any of it – the terrible answer OR the reading of Us Weekly while walking with my daughter through a beautiful nature path.
Instead of consulting Wikipedia like maybe I should have, I sent her question to my husband to see what he would have said in my place. Here was his answer: “Hot air and cold air move differently. Ever notice it’s hotter upstairs? That’s because hot air likes to move up. Wind is caused by the same thing. Hot air moves up and cold air rushes to where the hot air used to be.”
Are you ever really prepared for the peppering of questions you’ll have to answer after your kids get old enough to have storable memories? I wasn’t prepared. To credit myself, I was an excellent student in school and I actually do know many things. I’m just not great at explaining them, especially in the moment. I freeze up, although her adorable face is much kinder than my childhood teachers’ faces looked when the same thing happened. I know what words mean and how weather works, but only in my mind as this big, cloudy mass of feelings and memories. How to explain that to a five-year-old? How to explain it to myself?
Sometimes I just need a little help in the matter. Sometimes we all need a little help.
Although there are some questions that need not be researched, or even answered twice! They don’t require too much thought:
Scarlet: “What’s a bong?” Dada: “It’s just another kitchen utensil.” Mama: “It’s like a drum! A bongo drum.”
End of story with that one. Until she’s at least 18. Or 33.
And sometimes, especially in a Star Wars loving family, you may find yourself in the middle of a conversation such as this:
Scarlet: “Why are there only three Star Warers?” (not a typo)
Dada: “Well, they only made three but there are more being made right NOW!”
Mama: (whispering to only Dada) “So you’re not going to tell her about Episodes I, II and III?”
Dada: “Not until she’s 18.” (or 33)
Strong Star Wars opinions aside, I have compiled a small list of her weekly questions. There are certain questions that my husband can answer and I cannot, without looking to Google. And there some questions I can answer and my husband cannot, without looking blankly in my direction and asking for help. I decided to submit the questions to my husband that I had already answered to see how his answers measured up against mine! So now you can see if/how we are either screwing up our daughter, or making her even more well rounded. (I like to believe the second)
Scarlet: “Why is there ice?” Mama: “What? So that we finally have a good use for our Han Solo in Carbonite ice cube makers. Obvs.” Scarlet: “Obvs.” Dada: “Because when you freeze water, that’s what forms. But you can also freeze water and turn it to snow.”
Scarlet: “What was your favorite thing to do when you were a kid?” Mama: “Books, books, and more books. I’d also climb trees, and read books. And I liked to eat, while reading books.” Dada: “I used to love finding a really good stick and playing by a stream near my house.”
Scarlet: “What is Yoda?” Mama: “A Jedi Master, he is. And a cool guy who lives in our basement right now.”
Dada: “Just Yoda.” Scarlet: “What IS he?” Dada: “A Jedi Master?” Scarlet: “What’s a Jedi Master?” Dada: “A good guy who has gotten so good at The Force that they can now teach it to other people.” Scarlet: “Does Darth Fader (not a typo) think the Emperor is a bad guy?” Dada: “He does, but right now he’s still a bad guy. He likes to hang out with other bad guys.” Scarlet: “It doesn’t make sense because you said that Darth Fader found out that the Emperor was a real bad guy and so that doesn’t really make sense..” Scarlet: (a minute later)…”Ok now it does. Now I know how it can.” (she never enlightened us!) Scarlet: “Why are they called Imperial Walkers?” Dada: “Because they’re made by Imperials and they are big, walking things.”
Scarlet: “Why didn’t Fiona come to my birthday party?” Dada: “Who’s Fiona?” Mama: “She was on vacation.” (in my head, I said this:) “I didn’t invite her. Between the bounce house, the cotton candy machine, and the face painter, we had at some point to cut down the list. So sorry, Scarlet, the list could not include the girl that never invited you to her parties, the boy who pushed you down at school, and the adorable Fiona – who I don’t even know.”
Scarlet: “What do you actually do when you’re at work?” Mama: “I pose people and take their photos. Or I don’t pose people and take their photos. That’s even better. Then I put the photos into my computer from my camera, and I sharpen them and add contrast. All while you’re sleeping, the cat is laying across my keyboard, and the other cat is farting in my lap. I also write stuff for money.” Dada: “I spend a lot of time emailing and talking to people.”
Scarlet: “Why do they never pee or poop in Sofia the First?” Mama: “There are too many other fun things to do!” Dada: “They do, but a Poop Griffin steals it all.”
**Bonus Question #2!
Scarlet: (while watching Lady and the Tramp) “Can we get a dog like that (Lady) when Athena dies?” Dada: “…..” Mama: “…..”
The bottom line and a special note. These answers are not meant to treat, diagnose or cure anything. This post is mostly in good, old-fashioned fun. We give her well-informed answers the best way we know how. Answer what you know, from your heart. We all know what we love. For everything else, look it up from a reputable source!
Tamara is a professional photographer at Tamara Camera Photography, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at Tamara (Like) Camera and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son and rescue pets in glorious western Massachusetts. She spends her spare time looking for moose, taking pictures of her kids, and maybe – just maybe – teaching them about photography. Her five-year-old took this headshot (below) when she was only four. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
My kids know this about me. It’s said about many dads, really. But, it’s more than just making fart noises (with your mouth) and misbehaving in church. It’s holding fast to some of the things that connect us to our actual childhoods. Much of this is intangible.
Some of it is tangible.
My new friend Bacon Thompson, who puts a split hove to the blog Pig Love, asked followers to share their favorite toys from childhood. My (I won’t call her old) friend Michele from Old Dog, New Tits (I said it) asked for a post with a number in the title.
My friend – let’s call him, Stewie –loved comic books.
I wasn’t a fan. All the Superman stuff seemed like kid play. As a kindergartner, I was all about Spiderman. By middle school, I’d moved on to bigger things: the NFL, Star Wars, and girls, if there wasn’t a football or any Star Wars figures around.
Anyway, Stewie loved comic books.
After school, Stewie treated me to a Slurpee at 7-11 while he shopped for comics. I picked the biggest cup available to mankind and filled ‘er up. But what should have been a stellar day of cold refreshing food coloring suddenly became an episode of Cops.
Stewie emerged from the comic book aisle, his red windbreaker tucked tightly in the front of his Rustler jeans, to conceal – I’m estimating here – about 752 comic books stashed against his chest.
Kiss your kids and hug them tightly tonight, you said, mom bloggers.
Reform gun-control laws, you said, concerned liberals. Outfit schools with armed guards, you said, National Rifle Association. In the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, everyone had an idea of something to do.
Some said to ban assault weapons because who needs them, anyway, or to ban the term “assault weapon” because it’s unfair to those who love multitudes of rounds in their gun-firing experience.
What should I do, though, a low-middle class dad with three kids in two schools, a right-leaning registered independent who owns no firearms and could more easily match up Star Wars characters with their weapons than actually purchase ammunition?
They never cease, from the kids; this keeps we dads mentally sharp. It’s sudoku without the math. Kind of.
One question came whistling in from left field recently – about whether girls can marry girls.
It came on mom’s watch, so she got to field that one, and did quite well.
The rest were mine:
1. Do animals ever have twins?
Technically, when I see a litter, I’m thinking, twins, triplets, quadruplets, and whatever sphere Kate Goesling and the Octomom reside. But technically, those aren’t twins, triplets, quadruplets, Goselingets or Octomomets. Twins happen only when zygotes split in half, says science. And the Internet.
See, when a critter has a litter, it’s the result of multiple female gametes being released. It’s like when they first open the doors at Wal-mart on Black Friday. Only far less deadly. Only one other animal – besides humans – gets to enjoy the feat of monozygotic twins: The armadillo.
And with the armadillo, you’ll sometimes get not twins, but quadruplets, from two binary fissions of a single fertilized oocyte. I know, I know, way technical. There’s a period of arrested development, too, just after the embryo develops to hatchling blastocyst, therefore …
Ah, heck with it. The trivia answer is armadillo. Let’s move on.
2. How can you tell if a person was a boy or a girl if all you have left is a skeleton?
Well, boys are tall, and girls are short, but apparently, this isn’t the fool-proof method. Plus, you know daddy’s skeleton will be shorter than, say, Kerri Walsh’s. (Let’s not think about daddy’s skeleton for now. Or Kerri’s. Or why they’d be found together.)
First, like with young, skinny Elvis, it’s all in the pelvis. We fellows have titled-forward sacrum; you girls’ are tilted back. Your ilia are also spread more, to give you a bigger pelvic outlet (presumably for birthing). Ours is all closed off, like our minds, sometimes.
So, what if the pelvis is out of the picture, and you have only a skull? (Let’s break here to hope that you’re never in a spot, unless it’s forensically or scientifically, in which you’re shifting through bones to identify gender. OK, back to the program.)
We guys have more pronounced occipital protuberance and mastoid process. Basically, thicker skulls. Also, our teeth are bigger, our jaws more square (yours are more gracile and beautiful), and our brows are heavier. This is to remind both genders that we’re more closely linked to Cro Magnons, somehow.
Man, these answers are getting heavy. Let’s just go with this: If the hips are narrow and the skull is thick and caveman-like, it’s probably a dude.
3. Can a dog get cancer from second-hand smoke?
Yes they can, especially pooches with long snouts (which ought to spur scientists to study whether people with big noses are more likely to get cancer this way). Dogs have other worries, too, such as toxins in their vaccines and the plastic used to make their food dishes. Not to mention electric fences and dog catchers.
(Studies are still being done on these threats, though. The food dishes, not the electric fences.)
Second-hand smoke will affect anything with lungs, and it’s a great way to spread the love if you’re a smoker. Like that lady in the car with the panting dog that brought this question up in the first place.
4. What are lightsabers like? Are they so hot they melt things?
OK, my little Padawans, I knew this question would come at some time. Every father should have the Jedi talk with his children, preferably before they’re old enough to join the Rebel Cause.
Lightsabers are plasma weapons, meaning that they are designed, in part, to cut metal. Therefore, it would be irresponsible for me to have one in the house. Despite how I vote, I’m fine with others keeping weapons in their home, but I’ll defer, especially with something as potent as a lightsaber. It’s one thing to keep the bullets to your gun in a separate cabinet; it’s quite another to have a lightsaber around kids (I don’t think they even have safety switches).
Yes, lightsabers are so hot they melt things. I was confused at this as a boy, when Darth Vader cut down Ben Kenobi in that fateful duel on the Death Star. When Vader’s lightsaber hit Ben’s cloak (Ben totally gave himself up), Ben vanished into thin air. This is a Jedi trick, not the science of lightsabers. In reality, a lightsaber is so hot that it will cut through anything – metal, marble, Jedi limbs, and, I presume, roast beef.
Did I really just spend three paragraphs explaining lightsaber safety? I did. And I couldn’t have done it without help from this very cool website.
5. How come a girl can get a taxi by lifting her dress like this, and a guy can’t?
Man. I think I’d rather have fielded the question about girls marrying girls.
Legs. Well, they’re sort of the universal language. Hmm. (shifts uncomfortably.)
See, I know you saw Nancy Drew on The Hardy Boys hail a cab by showing a little leg. (Grace even demonstrated the technique.)
I think I have terrific legs for a 40-year-old guy, but I know flashing them won’t get me extra sprinkles on my ice cream, let alone a cab ride. This has nothing to do with my musculature, a little to do with how hairy my legs are, and mostly to do with supply and demand.
You know how on really cold soccer mornings, you’d love to have hot chocolate? It’s appealing. So too is ice-cold lemonade on your hottest soccer days. People will do whatever they can to get it. But try to sell the chilled lemonade in the winter or the hot chocolate in July, and, well, you’re not going to beat down any doors.
So dad’s legs – and most guys’ – are like hot chocolate on the Fourth of July. Nancy Drew’s are more lemonade on July 4. I know, I know, we both need the ride, so why the difference? And why does this matter?
Nancy Drew did this in the 1970s, as actress Pamela Sue Martin, whose cuteness really tends to grow on you. To me, and to the cabbie. But in 2012, it still happens. The London Daily Mail recently ran a story all about actress Scarlett Johansson nabbing a cab by just looking fly in in a skirt. (I have a feeling you might ask me next what “fly” means.)
But because you’re 7, Grace, and because my “male feminist” card trumps any prior or expired “leg man” card in my wallet, I’ll try and be a little cautious in my response: Cabbies will break for women who show a little leg because … well, it comes down to this: You know how we saw that rainbow the other day, and couldn’t stop looking at it?
Or how kids always pick the doughnut with the brightly colored frosting?
Or how the girl bird always picks the boy bird with the flashiest feathers?
Well, it’s kind of like that.
Scarlett Johansson’s legs are prettier than your dad’s.
Hers are the brightly-colored frosting, the flashy feathers, that will stop the cab in its tracks.
I’ll buy chips for my kids on the way home from soccer practice.
Allow them to wrestle and chase each other. In the grocery store. Look the other way when they throw a little swagger in their soccer game. I’m a little funny, though, when it comes to movies. My oldest is 14. She can watch PG-13 movies. But I cringe.
Not the language or violence, necessarily. But the themes. The innuendo. The … I dunno, sultry stuff.
Makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth and pee myself a little. I’d rather her see a car chase with a smash-up ending, hear more applications of the F-word, or get startled by a killer, zombie, or politician in the court room than to hear locker-room talk.