Being the parent of a stubborn, intelligent girl in her terrible twos is not the easiest thing in the world. But there are times--and, actually, plenty of them--that make all the temper tantrums, potty-training accidents, and lost weekends seem trivial in comparison. Here are a couple of them:

This morning when I left for work, I stopped to give my sleeping daughter a kiss good-bye. When I kissed her on the cheek, she didn't open her eyes...but she smiled and snuggled a little closer to me. I had tears in my eyes as I went out the door.

My daughter has a Barney video in which Old King Cole comes to visit--his costume includes a big hoop skirt. We just made her a hoop skirt of her own (for the SCA, and when she put it on, she said, "I'm Old King Cole!" Not only did she remember that detail of the character's costume, but she identified what she was wearing with what she'd seen on TV. It was amazing!

For me, those are the moments that make parenting a joy--when I realize that my child and I are in love, and when I see her learn something new.

Being a Weekend Dad, the moment that truely made it all worth it happened to me last friday night.

My daughter (4) had just been dropped off, and I was explaining to her that after dinner I would like to go to "Fighting" 1. I noticed a small frown cross her face, and she was about to argue (which I was expecting), and then a new and astounding (to me)facial expression appeared, and she said, "You know Daddy, when I was a little girl, I didn't like doing that. But now that I'm a Kinder Girl 2 I know you have to do things, and that's ok. We can go." I was just _so_ stunned she displayed an 'adult' appreciation of 'sharing' that i had to leave the room, and cry.

To end this story, we went, she happily played with the other children there, and then quietly came and let me know she wanted to leave about an hour and a half later. Even though I really wanted to stay, it was surprisingly easy to drop what I was doing and leave for her.

1 our word for SCA fighter training I do.

2 Her word for going to kindergatern. Meaning she's a big kid now!

Synthesis of Traits

My wife and I often wonder where our daughter gets some of her looks and personality traits from. Since my daughter is only seventeen months it's very hard to say whether she is more like her mother or myself. I'm sure that this will be an endless source of pondering for both of us, as we watch her grow. Usually when we see (or hear) he doing something, anything really, we just point. If I think she's doing something that is a "Daddy" behavior, I point at myself. If it's a "Mommy" behavior, I point at the wife.

Clearly she's still working very hard to acquire the skills and abilities that will let her own unique nature shine through. That being said, there have been a few times when I have seen my little monster do something that is so classically me that I can have no doubt that she was created as a union between my wife and I. What follows is an example of such an event.

Having finally given in to my wife's demands at replacing my beloved futon mattress, which I have spent the last seven or so years lovingly training to conform to my body's unique though plentiful curvature, the three of us found ourselves at Sleepy Hollow, the newest local futon furniture shop. Julie, my daughter, needed no prompting to test any of the wonders of high tech bedding, seating, end tables, or throw pillows. Amazingly, however, she had a very negative reaction to the shop keep (and Owner, as we later found out).

Normally Julie is a very social creature. In fact she gets pretty cranky just sitting around the house watching me and the wife live. She wants to dance, run, chase, be chased, squirm, tickle, and practice her vocabulary. One of her first words was "Hi!". When she says it, it sounds more like the warmest friendliest invitation to friendship and laughter you've ever heard. She has yet to display stranger anxiety to anyone except people that look like me. For some reason that really freaks her out. Suffice it to say that my daughter is and will likely always be a social butterfly. You can't see it, but right now I'm mentally pointing at my Mother-In-Law.

So, when the owner of Sleepy Hollow approached Julie to say hello and make nice with the little kid, Julie screeched. We call that talking to pterodactyls. My wife and I looked at each other and shrugged. Still we had important things to do, like hardcore testing of lounge and bedding devices, so it didn't trouble us. Remember, Julie doesn't usually go through stranger anxiety.

Just as we were deciding which items we were wrapping up our little outing to upgrade our sleeping situation Julie walked away from us with a purpose. She marched her little two foot tall self right behind the counter where the shop keep was sitting and saying her farewell sales pitch. Julie abruptly stopped in the middle of the space behind the desk and put on her biggest puppy dog eyes. I noticed her eyes kept darting back and forth between the shop keep and something on a shelf behind the counter. A basket of apples and oranges. As the shop keep handed Julie an orange, my wife and I chuckled. She'd been had.

Julie must have picked her out as an easy prey for mooching. I know she's still mostly pre-verbal, but somehow Julie just knows what she can get from whom, and just how to do it. Apparently the shop keep was a "must keep baby happy" type.

Long term emotional manipulation skills: Pointing at Mommy.
Superior mooching skills: Pointing at Daddy.

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