Thursday, October 23, 2008

Take that, Malibu Barbie.

A validating conversation was held amongst my family on the way to daycare drop-off yesterday. I was not in the car at the time. Super Ninja, a man among men, does the daycare drop-off and pick-up because he works closest to home. He relayed the following exchange to me:

"Dad?" said the Boy.

"Yes buddy?"

"I love...Mommy."

(melting...I'm melting...)

"I love Mommy too, Boy."

"I love Mommy...too?" said the Girl.

"Yes, Girl, we all love Mommy."

"Mommy is...bootiful."

(oh my God I'm infused with warmth I thought was only possible through shots of whisky...)

I'm thrilled that my almost-two-year-old girl thinks that I'm beautiful, even though she has no idea what that means. Considering her main frame of reference is the Disney Princess collective and some stacked superheroines, I have stiff competition.

The truth is, I experienced a moment of terror soon after she was born. Well, I guess there are many moments of terror with a newborn. But this one was different from any that I had with my son. See, I realized that I was going to be the standard of, well, not beauty necessarily, but maintaining one's self for my daughter.

Kids look to their parents for examples and standards, right? Boys usually look to their fathers, and girls to their mothers. This is why I henpeck Super Ninja to go to doctors and dentists. I'm a big believer in leading through example -- you can tell kids it's important to brush their teeth, but until they see you brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist, they might write it off as another one of those things that you're telling them they must do when it's really just optional.

And I also believe that the way you take care of something is an outward sign of how much you value it. When you drive by a house that has junk in the yard and grass that is outrageously overgrown, you don't think that the people who live there cherish their address, do you? So, if you're wearing stained and ripped clothing, you're kind of telling the world that you just don't care. Which, come to think of it, may be the point. I'm looking at you, Punk era.

It's such a tricky line. I want to instill in both of them that they need to take care of themselves, and that the world does judge them by how they present themselves. But how do you reconcile that idea with the reality that they should, in turn, only judge people by the content of their characters and not whether or not they have 10 pairs of Guess? jeans and a different Forenza sweatshirt for every day of the week*.

Not sure where I was really going with this. Maybe I'm just glad that my daughter notices, at her tender age, that I make an effort? Then again, I think Jabba the Hutt, Jr., probably that that Gardulla was the cat's pajamas, so p'raps I should not read that much into this....

*Sorry. Bitter moment from 1987.

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