July 31, 2013

Summer Reading List

School’s out for summer. School’s out forever…well, at least we’re in the silly season before my summer vacation from the office. Which means it is summer reading time. I asked the Rising Daughters to indicate their favorites from our bedtime reading list amid these sweltering summer days. 
The Top 7 and a brief comment on (or review of) each book follows.

Aloha Bear by Dick Adair
“A penetrating analysis of Hawaiian socio-political norms and their integration with culture as seen in the form of the cuddly-wuddly brown bear who often says ‘Aloha’”.

Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert
“Gallic tough love, baby.” - Elena

Cat and Dog by Rozanne Williams
“Packed with action. A roller coaster ride… dazzling. You won’t be able to put it down.” -Marina

Generation X by Douglas Coupland
“Still my bible.” - Me

Sally’s Red Bucket by Beverly Rendell
“A literary colonoscopy.” -Elena

Motel Chronicles by Sam Shepherd
“Hunk-verse. Yummy!” -Naomi

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
“This is a wonderful book to read with very young children.—especially in the original Russian! The story is simple and flows easily. The very vibrant colors in the pictures really draw the attention of your kids as you read the book. My kids simply love it. I am certain your children will as well.” – Non-existent Perfect Parent

July 22, 2013

Biker Babes in Toyland

My kids have the need for speed. This is not surprising, given my penchant to let them jump off ledges, poke the growling animals, swing just a bit higher for that split-second weightless joy, and other childhood on-the-job training evolutions (legal disclaimer: within reason). One element of this is the ritual of learning to ride a bicycle.

Lady E. was a late convert to the two-wheeled life. We bought her this yellow-colored beauty when she was still a zygote, yet despite my best efforts she just did not get the hang of pedaling without the training wheels until early in 2013.
I tried doing practice laps with her in the safe confines of our neighborhood streets: pushing/launching, pep talks about balance, the virtue of being persistent after falling over—patiently teaching my ass off. But I think the prying eyes of her competitors in the ‘nabe had some kind of psych-out effect. Countermeasure: adapt and overcome! We changed training venues, going to a local park for these practice sessions. Then, after several furtive attempts and occasional exasperated tears, all of a sudden, whammo! SWOOSH! off she went, propelled into a new stage of her kid-hood. The promise of freedom that comes with mobility…it’s a powerful moment in anyone’s life.

Marina, quite naturally, wants to be like her demigod sister. She pedals around on her trike, furiously trying to keep up. She’s a gamer. The frustration is evident when she gets “crazy eyes”; eyes alight with a Rasputin-like intensity, followed by a later pummeling of her older sister to telegraph her displeasure if Elena trash-talks or flaunts her bicycle-driving superiority.

When we’re bored, or to clear the mechanism when there has been a crying session, or after a temper tantrum has subsided, I’ve been taking the girls on recon missions through the small residential roads near our house on my emasculating 50cc scooter. 

In turns, they perch on the front seat and grasp the mirrors, and we prowl around. It’s fun, and the glee on their faces is worth the fine that I will inevitably get from the cops here, who are – uhh – not the world’s most flexible when it comes to “no passengers” rules for this class of vehicle.

What the hell, it’s a small price to pay for instilling a love of speed and adventure, and the willingness to do something just a little dangerous (legal disclaimer: within reason).
My favorite Martian

July 2, 2013

We Do Not Negotiate With Emotional Terrorists

Most parents are amateur anti-terrorism experts. My wife I have logged this type of operational experience owing to numerous incidents with our first daughter. Recently, we have had to deal decisively with a second wave of organic terrorism in our home. Our beloved tyke, Marina, has developed into a part-time antagonist with her own extremist agenda. To our chagrin, we recognize she has been using calculated verbal and physical violence to provoke a state of terror in the Rising Family™ in an attempt to impose her worldview on us.

It is incumbent on me that I reiterate, with resolute conviction and moral certainty, our family policy on these matters:
We do not negotiate with emotional terrorists.
(Even if we love them with all our hearts.)

Thus, Ms. M has been indicted by our family court for her violations against acceptable behavior, as follows:

Charge #1: Has used 30-minute ear-splitting screaming and unwittingly hilarious tantrums to try to force her food, clothing, and play choices, and general social agenda, on the rest of us.
Ruling: guilty.

Charge #2: Has used physical and psychological warfare against her older sister to compel compliance with her nefarious three-year-old-kid socio-economic manifesto (i.e. “Gimme your grape juice, bitch. NOW!”)
Ruling: guilty.

Charge #3: Has deliberately blocked view of TV with cutesy mini-kitchen set to coerce other family members to change to her preferred kiddie show (Teletubbies). Related charge: when rebuffed, defendant sprinted around room, screeched at high decibels, and threatened violence with swinging arms.
Ruling: guilty.

Charge #4: “Freakouts Without Cause”, viz. numerous early morning tantrums (before even rising from bed) that infuse the day with dejected gloom.
Ruling: oh man, so, so guilty.

Sentence: no Doraemon cartoons or ice cream until behavior improves.

For the past several months, all efforts to calm with hugs; charm; keep busy; redirect or divert attention; ignore; change location/environment; and other well-intentioned responses to this anti-social radicalism have met with nothing but more 30 to 45-minute terror tot temper tantrums. Therefore, we have countered this tide of tempestuous deeds with our strict adherence to the no-negotiation policy.

Our war on tiny person terrorism continues.