Barbie has seen that look in Woody’s eye before. It’s about to get weird.
I understand that putting an above ground pool in your front yard is a bit white trash, but what’s the ruling on a kiddie pool in your living room? My instincts tell me that this also lands squarely on the white trash side of the line, but my kids are trying to convince me that it’s a good idea…and I’m starting to believe them. Is it possible that putting an inflatable kiddie pull in your living room is so far on the “white trash” side that it actually comes back around to the “awesome” side? Like dune buggies, Budweiser tall boys, and Dukes of Hazard reruns?
Think about this. If we keep the pool in our living room, I can sit in it, while drinking a Budweiser tall boy and watching Dukes of Hazard reruns. Nobody in their right mind would say that’s anything but awesome. I’m open to incorporating a dune buggy ride in there too, as long as it doesn’t ruin the rug.
So, here’s something a little strange. My daughter sneaks out of her bed at 2am to “shop” for dresses in her closet. She has lots of dresses. Purple mostly, some pink. She pulls them out, looks them over, tries some on. Sometimes, she falls back asleep in the closet, pulling those dresses over her for warmth.
Cute? Disturbing? I can’t decide.
Ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, and she’ll tell you: “I want to be a princess.” Ask her what a princess does at work, and she’ll tell you: “twirl.”
She spends a lot of time twirling. And changing clothes.
The other day, within the same conversation, she said to me, “I just want to wear a little black dress.” WTF? Then she followed up that gem with, “just give me some space, daddy.”
I’m not really sure when it happened. She’s three going on 13.
Meanwhile, Cooper’s hell bent on “shooting” any moving object (with pretend lasers) and “fixing” any stationary object (by bludgeoning it with a plastic hammer). He’s such a stereotypical dude: He likes sticks and hitting things with sticks and occasionally peeing on things.
What’s amazing to me is how easily they’ve both fallen into these classic gender roles. You might think the kids are just imitating what they see from their parents, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Cooper’s never seen me pick up a hammer or fix anything and Addie rarely sees her mom in anything other than hospital scrubs. I do the cooking, my wife mows the lawn. I drive a tiny Jetta, my wife drives a four-wheel drive SUV. And yet my daughter will spend an entire afternoon spinning around in front of a mirror while saying, “I’m so pretty,” and my son is obsessed with monster trucks. Specifically, monster trucks that smash smaller trucks.
That’s not to say Addie is strictly a princess. She’s hell on a climbing wall, sending all kinds of routes with grace. She’s a fast little trail runner, too. And I’ve occasionally caught her smashing shit with a plastic hammer. She also loves chicken wings. I think that’s pretty cool.
Cooper has a soft side too, which I’m doing my best to nurture. Like his sister, he’ll occasionally strap on a skirt and twirl like a princess–a fact that drives certain grandparents crazy, I’m sure. I know some dads might take issue with their son wearing pink skirts and pretending to be a Snow White, but I like to think I’m more open-minded than that. I’m evolved: I’ll love my son if he grows up to wear pretty dresses…as long as he’s still the starting center fielder for the Atlanta Braves. That’s non-negotiable.
So I have toddler twins. That’s two, count ‘em, two crazy ass kids who, at this point in their life, are really only part human. They’re lovely, don’t get me wrong, but let’s face it, they’re toddlers so they have the morality and self control of a monkey who’s been fed a steady stream of The Sopranos for a year straight.
The first two years are a complete blur. The kids didn’t sleep. They still don’t sleep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about using chloroform. Raising infant twins is a lot like parenting on acid. When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, you see feces everywhere. You may or may not be hallucinating.
I remember the first few months were dominated by the word “nipple.” There was a lot of concern over my wife’s, the children’s, and occasionally mine. I also remember a very happy hour (somewhere around month four) when I tried to get the Leap Frog Caterpillar to say dirty words. It was a smart little caterpillar. You press a key, it says the letter. If you pressed the keys fast enough, you could get it to sound out whole words, like “HAT.” But it wouldn’t sound out “FUCK,” or any version of that word. No FUK. No FUQ. It wouldn’t say “ASS” or “DICK”. When you typed in the letters, it got through the F and U, but then giggled when you typed C and said, “that tickles.” It said that whenever you typed in any dirty word, which means there was some toy engineer who had the foresight to plan for immature parents.
I like to imagine the meeting where the engineer brought this little glitch up to the rest of the Leap Frog team. I like to think of a bunch of suits brainstorming about what sick and demented words fatigued parents might try to make the little green caterpillar say. I picture them writing them all down on a big dry erase board.
Thinking of that makes me happy.
Other stuff happened in the first two years. The kids got baptized and my daughter got a rash from the holy water. No shit. She slept better afterward too.