wishing daddy back to life and shredding the feet of bears

A few days ago, while putting Clementine to bed, I heard her say to one of her stuffed animals – I think it was Mox – “If I had a magic wand, I’d wish for another daddy.” I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it hurt. I didn’t say anything to her about it at the time, though. I knew that it would come eventually, and I was somewhat prepared for it. I kissed her goodnight, told her I loved her, and then went downstairs to drown my sorrow in a bubbling bowl of nacho cheese. I knew the day was coming – it’s inevitable – but I thought that I might have a few more years before we entered the “I hate you” phase of our relationship. Anyway, I decided to ask her about it today, after dinner. I said, “Do you remember the other day, how you were talking about having a magic wand, and you said you’d wish for another daddy? Well, I was wondering what you meant by that.” She replied pretty quickly, without giving it much thought. She said, “Well, if you died, I’d wish for another daddy just like you.” Yeah, I guess it’s kind of morbid that she’s thinking about my death, but at least she doesn’t hate me… yet.

Oh, and here’s something else she said today. We were pretending, as we often do, that we were hiding from a hungry bear. She and I were lying very still under a giant pretend leaf in her bedroom, when she whispered to me, “I broke glass all around, so the bear will cut his feet if he comes to get us.” That really impressed the hell out of me… I’m not a professional educator, but I’d say that she’s devising ways to protect from bear attacks at a first grade level.

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  1. Posted April 13, 2008 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    It does my heart good to hear of a parent hiding from bears with his child. It’s little daily choices like this that we make as parents that stick with our kids, and us. Later on, down the road, when you think that she really DOES hate you, know that little moments like the ones you wrote about are always there inside their hearts. Of course, the arrogance of her years between 13 and 25ish will interpret these sweet fuzzy times as evidence that we parents really are the absolute, dumbest creatures to roam the earth. Sweet, helpful creatures, but hopelessly, helplessly dumb.

    Not bad to be thought of as mentally challenged by your kids, though. You can get a lot of work out of them that way. My son reparks the car, controls all technology within 1 mile of me, and even takes over seasoning food to save the family from my “don’t care about cooking” salt+pepper=dinnertime! approach.

    If you don’t want to answer a question from them immediately, just let your eyes kind of glaze over and let your face go a little slack. They’ll back off quickly so as not to risk burning up your last brain cell before you’ve done their laundry.

    Clemintine IS gifted-not just with unusually well developed bear defense measures-but no doubt with an arsonal of sweet memories which will come in handy, years down the road, when she starts to wonder if her father is smart enough to tie his shoes. (You don’t have all that long.)

    Have you tested her abilities in the area of squirrel warfare? Those deceptively cute creatures are actually under-cover cia spies, I hear.

  2. egpenet
    Posted April 13, 2008 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Late at night from my side porch, I said to one of the oppossums skulking in my yard, “I thought the KGB was disbanded.”

    He responded, “But WE are still here.”

  3. egpenet
    Posted April 13, 2008 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    When my kids were little, I took an Amway spray bottle and filled it with water and a few drops of ammonia. I gave it to them to spray under their beds and in their closets for monsters and other critters. I did the first few emergency treatments, but they soon learned to use it with the lights on as a preventitive.

    I told them that “Amway” was a clever name for Animal & Monsters Away.

  4. Willus Bruzcht
    Posted April 13, 2008 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    I tried to warn you that that daycare you’re sending Clementine to was just letting the kids watch reruns of Die Hard all day.

  5. Smokey Barrret
    Posted April 13, 2008 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    For context, you have to realize Mark scatters broken glass around Clementine’s bed every night after he tucks her in and kisses her goodnight, as protection against “nightcreepers, igglyticklers” and assorted “fairy monster skulks.”

    I would consider it a cause for concern and a bit overbearing if he didn’t do the same thing around his own bed. If you’ve ever seen Mark walk through town, you’ll notice his left hand is constantly reaching into his back pocket and sprinkling shredded glass like winter rock-salt behind him.

    I suggest any who frequently tread in Mark’s path get some thick soled boots.

  6. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 14, 2008 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    What Mark didn’t hear was after Clementine said, “Well, if you died, I’d wish for another daddy just like you…” is her quietly adding under hushed breath, “But for one who also knew how to spell my fucking name.”

  7. Posted April 14, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Your chances of avoiding the “I hate you” stage are best with an oldest daughter. Younger children are always worse. If you really want to see hatred, try parenting your niece, with whom early trust was not established. ;-)

    But seriously, I don’t buy that scenario of children always hating their parents when they become adolescents. I think that mostly happens when parents try to be controlling omniscent jerks. When we just act like the hapless humans that we are — when we’re honest about how everyone is just doing their best — I think kids are pretty understanding. Even adolescents. Our formula has always been to provide necessary boundaries + unconditional love in an atmosphere of as much honesty as possible. Simple, yet incredibly challenging.

  8. Posted April 14, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Oh, dear, Lisele. I hope my post didn’t sound like I actually said adolescents always hate their parents! I was responding to Mark’s post about Clementine, and realized I had gotten mushy sounding about his sweet relationship with his her. I tagged on a cynical joke to redeem myself. I hardly meant to be taken seriously.

    Kidding about adolescence aside, what I meant by that single comment, and still do, is that there is a very natural and developmentally important stage that children go through around this age. It is a part of separating oneself from one’s parents, of course, and helps to establish some of the independence we want our children to achieve before adulthood. We tolerate it, and even try to enjoy it when we have the mental energy.

    Our formula sounds just like the formula you’ve described in your family. And, I’m delighted to report that even though our kids have acted like we are bothersome, uncool creatures now and then, we enjoy them and they can’t hide the fact that they actually enjoy us. And we are DEFINITELY uncool, 24/7.

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