Sunday, April 30, 2006

Abbot & Costello at our Breakfast Table

"Daddy, who is that man with George Bush?"


"That man there?"

"He's the President of China."

"What's his name?"


"That man you just said, from China, that's who?"


"Daddy, who is the President of China?"

"You've got it!"

"Mommy! Daddy won't tell me who is the President of China!"

"Tell Daddy to stop teaching old bits and hack material!"

"Daddy, Mommy says you are a hack and need new material."

My wife doesn't understand. You can't teach small children material. Material comes and goes. But you can teach them timing - timing is forever. And you can't teach them too early - because if they are going to Carnegie Hall, the only way to get there is practice, practice, practice.

Friday, April 28, 2006

About Daughters II: Possession and Modulation

If you have a daughter, about two years old, do not be surprised if she frequently speaks in a disturbing, deep, growly voice. Often it will be single word demands. "MORE!" "JUICE!" "BARNEY!"

Sometimes it will be random, semi-coherent grunting noises like an angry equine or Dick Cheney.

This is normal and if you are worried that she is possessed, she is. This is also normal.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Big Secret of Parenting Small Children

It can be kind of... boring.

You play with them for a while - say 20 minutes - and it is wonderful. You see their little minds grasping new concepts, new pathways being formed. You see them making connections. It was Aristotle who said that people learn by imitation. You see the odd bits of adult behavior that they pick up. My son just constructed a mock-up of my office out of mega-blocks. It included my office, my boss' office (I like to bring my son by so my boss will take pity on me and continue my employment), and the elevator we take to get up there. It also had the office of the guy who has a plastic samurai sword. Oh, and he included the bobble-head bear that is a centerpiece in our conference room (don't ask.)

However, children require repetition to learn. The first couple of times we play "office" with Legos is pretty great. It starts to wear. If you love your kids, but after an hour of this sort of thing you are desperate for adult company - you are normal.

With that in mind, I will soon launch a series of entries on boredom antidotes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

About Daughters I: Burqa Envy

Let me first say - I am a modern guy, the only reasons I have doubts about feminine equality is that it does not comport with the reality of feminine superiority (especially my wife's over me.)

However, now that I have a daughter, I understand the burqa. I am not saying I approve, only that I understand.

I have friends and relatives with older daughters and it has been a joy to see them grow up from little girls to charming and lovely young women. I look forward to watching my own daughter grow up (she is only two so there is a way to go - with probably a long pony obsession phase in the meantime).

But I also know how teenage boys think, and when I consider that - suddenly the burqa doesn't seem like the worst idea.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pesach Traditions

Just like some bonehead decided to create New Coke, there has been a remake of The Ten Commandments.

Aesthetic issues aside, this was a problem. My son and I have a tradition of watching it the night before the first Pesach seder. He is not quite five and this would be our third year watching it. This is a big thing in his life and he was pretty disappointed. Fortunately, it was aired in its fullness Saturday night and he made it almost all the way through.

Between Charlton Heston's hokey acting, the super cheesy dance sequences, and the sheer length of the thing (weighing in at four and half hours with commercials) keeping him up to watch it is borderline child abuse (at least according to my social worker mom.)

But it was worth it the next morning when we told him we'd make his favorite breakfast he arched his eyebrow and intoned, "So it is written. So it shall be done." Clap! Clap!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Do the Hustle

Right now my son is in a tic-tac-toe phase. He can play it endlessly and my efforts to humor him and let him win only encourage him to play more. (There are only so many ways to lose at tic-tac-toe.)

So I am hustling him. We make a bet, I lose, then offer double or nothing. Finally, when the ante is high enough and he is flush with confidence I take him.

Do I feel bad about deceiving my son?

Absolutely not! He gets to play a fun game with Daddy while learning a valuable life lesson (better he learn at home than at a tavern from a guy named Slim.*) And, having taken him – my retirement is covered. He owes me a million-gazillion dollars.

* Don't mess around with that guy. Also, don't tug on Superman's cape, spit into the wind, or try to pull the mask off of the Lone Ranger.