November 6, 2006

Big Girl

I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I grew up in Texas, a land which possesses two seasons (Damn Hot and Slightly Less Hot), but I love the fall, especially now that I live in a place with changing leaves and impending snowfall. But this weekend I did learn there's a downside.

Yesterday was chilly. Instead of hitting the local playground or walking Mia (actually, Mia walks us) around the neighborhood, we went to the play area at the local mall. Is it me or does that sound really ghetto? Anyway, there we were surrounded by all these screaming children and their parents (some of whom were shrieking like their kids while others were content to sit on the sidelines or chat on their cellphones). There, smack dab in the middle of it all was my little girl. She looked so small yet so much more like a little girl than a baby. Because, I suppose, that's precisely what she is.

I only panicked a little when I saw the two sisters fighting over something not at all visible within a foot of my little girl. I grew slightly more concerned when an incredibly fat kid kept throwing himself down the slide practically at my daughter. But I managed to keep my shit together. It all made me think, though. At some point, Mia's going to want or need to go somewhere without us - school, a friend's house. While I don't want her to be a social reject, I'm afraid.

I'm not a cynical guy but the world's a lot like high school - it can be cruel and intolerant and isolating for anyone who's the least bit different. It can be a wonderful place, don't get me wrong. But I want my girl to be happy. So, exactly how long do you think it's going to take me to travel around the planet and give everyone a good talking to? I have meetings all day but I'm free after 3.

Posted by Chris at November 6, 2006 7:08 AM

Hmm, I would suggest something in an e-mail format. It won't take care of those developing countries, but it will cut down on your travels.

Also, we love the play area at our mall. It does not sound ghetto. It sounds clean and safe and cushiony (if the stuff there is anything like the stuff here).

I'm sure she had a great time.

Posted by: Contrary at November 6, 2006 7:38 AM

I think you should create some type of commercial for the Mia campaign, Like politicians I am sure that would get the word out that She is not to be messed with.

Posted by: William at November 6, 2006 7:47 AM

Perhaps using the interwebs to send all memos may eat up less of your time. Saves you time for those special one on one meets and greets.

Posted by: Wicked H at November 6, 2006 7:48 AM

The TV commercial is a good idea!

My oldest started school this year, and I still feel the same way. I think it's the curse of parenthood--constant worry.

Posted by: Alissa at November 6, 2006 7:57 AM

One of the hardest parts of parenting. It never gets any easier. Connor came home from school crying because someone in his class told him he was stupid and didnt want to be his friend. Now, he knows hes not stupid and boys will be boys and I knew the next day all would be forgotten and they would be friends again, but that didnt stop me from wanting to rip that kid a new one. Dont hurt my baby. Ever.

Posted by: Lisa at November 6, 2006 7:59 AM

She is growing up! Sesame Street to Vanity Fair, huh? And don't feel bad, I wouldn't want any fat kids launching themselves at my kid either (if I had one). I'm sure being a little scared and protective is just another phase of parenting. You're doing a great job so far! Just watch out for those fat kids on slides!! :)

Posted by: Michelle at November 6, 2006 8:12 AM

I had a similar realization this weekend, so I'm just not going to think about it. La la la I can't hear you!

Posted by: Leah at November 6, 2006 8:26 AM

The TV ad is an excellent suggestion... just make sure you get her saying "My name is Mia, and I approve this message" and everyone will swoon for her cuteness!

Oh, and we go to the play area at our mall as well... when you don't have the blessing of a beating sun year round, you need to find indoor entertainment for toddlers.

But seriously, I wonder about my daughter socially too. Ultimately, you just have to have faith in her. She'll find her place in the world (in the real, big world sense as well as in the highschool/social sense) - and whether it's with the cheerleaders or the indie-rock-eco-feminists or science club or whatever.

Posted by: Jeff at November 6, 2006 8:36 AM

Relax. Mia is an incredible, wonderful child and she will amaze the world! I see my grown daughter and how wonderful she is and I am amazed that I had even a small part in who she has become.
Love the pictures!

Posted by: Maribeth at November 6, 2006 8:52 AM

Aw, you're so sweet. I vote for the TV ad too.

That is pretty ghetto taking your kid to play at the mall, though. ;-P But I guess you're in good company.

Posted by: Fraulein N at November 6, 2006 8:59 AM

welcome to the over-protective parent association....OPPA is very hard to get out of once in. My girls are only 2 and 4 and I can NOT imagine sleepovers at other people's houses, birthday parties where I am not there, dates with guys??? I have a lot of letting go to do, a lot....and I am not sure I have enough hours before these things actually start to occur to let go enough, but I know I have to.

Posted by: linda at November 6, 2006 9:00 AM

Wait, you grew up in Texas?! Do you have an ACCENT? (Please say YES.)

Posted by: Marilyn at November 6, 2006 9:01 AM

The worst for me was the first time I was out with my son and he declared that he was old enough to use the men's room by himself instead of me dragging him into the women's room. I hovered about 2mm outside the men's room door waiting for him to come out.
I learned that even though it is hard to let go, even just that little bit, you have to do it so they can learn who they are and how they handle life. But the worrying?? Oh, the worrying is hard. And I don't think that ever goes away.

Posted by: Traci at November 6, 2006 9:22 AM

It's a different kind of world when your kids are really small, Chris. There's no such thing as ghetto because you're mostly living life on their terms. When Greyson and Tucker were very little (they're 13 months apart), Friday nights were our night to go to the mall. Especially in the autumn when we were trying to get ahead on our Christmas shopping. We had a double stroller that was like pushing a Buick through the crowded walkways, but now in retrospect, those seemed like sweet times to us. We'd go get food at the food court (with a big beer for each of us) and get a table by a fountain (which was most intrriguing for the boys). People came by to see our kids and say hello. The scenery changed constantly. They could get out of the stroller and toddle around and work out the last of their energy...and fall deeply asleep on the 5-minute ride home. It was like a date for us...albeit accompanied by very small chaperones. We got a lot of stuff done on those evenings, a fact that I still find very surprising.

As for exposing my kids to the untamed wild of rough people...yes...I was the worst about watching how other kids acted around mine. When Mia starts school, you can join the PTA board and sign up to work playground duty. Then you get to watch your kid interract with others. You see who is mean and who is nice to your kid. It's informative...and sometimes very tough to watch.

Posted by: wordgirl at November 6, 2006 9:46 AM

I hate when it gets too cold to walk around outside. Brrrrrr! I think the term I would use to describe the situation is "fucktardariffic." :)

Posted by: Zandria at November 6, 2006 9:59 AM

Speaking of Marilyn's question above, when she asked if you have an accent: it reminded me that you haven't done one of those live-voice things here on your site in an awful long time...

Posted by: Zandria at November 6, 2006 10:01 AM

I bet if traffic's not too bad, you can be home in time for dinner. Do you think you can put in a good word for us, too, while you're out there?

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at November 6, 2006 10:13 AM

Nope. It doesn't go away. For some reason though, my son is more reassuring to me than my daughter.

While there is no way i want to keep them young, I do wish I could shield them from the asshats in the world. But then again, how would they know what constitutes an asshat unless they actually encountered one?!

Posted by: kristen at November 6, 2006 10:48 AM

sounds like you might have been one of those people I was looking at in the food court.... but from your blogs, I'd have to assume you would both be ENGAGED in your child... not all the other stuff I was blathering on about... remind me not to do my study at your mall, 'cause you'd throw off my statistics... unless I can just call you an "outlier".

Posted by: Lisa at November 6, 2006 10:55 AM

She's just the cutest little girl! I'm truly enjoying watching her grow up!

Posted by: Karen at November 6, 2006 11:06 AM

I took my friend Laila's little boy to the mall playground one time, and it was terrifying. First, the anarchy of all those kids running around and jumping on and off of things and screaming. And then there was this one really aggressive little boy who just seemed to have it in for Noah -- following him around and trying to push him off every toy he climbed on.

Perhaps you could set yourself up as Mia's advance team, and went in ahead of her with a megaphone to set expectations about how people should treat her? "No pushing, rudeness, and no green M&M's, thank you very much." I'm sure she wouldn't find that embarrassing as she gets older!

Posted by: bad penguin at November 6, 2006 11:19 AM

it's so scary...letting them go...even for just a minute.

it still baffles me that my kids go to school every day from 9 until 3 on their own! and that they don't NEED me! and that they are totally FINE!

Posted by: ali at November 6, 2006 11:50 AM

oooooohhhh.... you are SO a dad now. Shall we all buy you the shotgun you should be polishing when her dates come over to pick her up? Or did you already bring one from Texas? :)

Posted by: Pammer at November 6, 2006 11:52 AM

See the problem with that theory is that people don't listen. Focus on Mia's self esteem and common sense and you'll have the best chance possible. Pinky swear.

Posted by: Elaine at November 6, 2006 12:09 PM

I'm thinking you should but a spot during halftime of the Superbowl and possibly at a few Nascar events. That should reach thousands, nay, millions of people! there by making your task all the easier. And if you need a celebrity spokesperson, I hear Michael Jackson ... er, never mind. Hey, have a great day.

Posted by: at November 6, 2006 12:10 PM

You're really so very cute! We all have thoughts like these, well parents do. I remember not being able to fathom that my kids were in school and I was not right there next to them. Now, I am a half a block away and they are much older but it's still weird. Especially if I need to go somewhere that's like 20 miles away. I think, oh my god, how can I leave the vicinity? And as I'm driving further away from their school, I STILL get nervous and uncomfortable. It's very natural what you are feeling. And what can I say? It's a rite of passage and there's nothing really to be done to avoid it. Unless you know, you start those "chats" right at three and keep going 'til she's in Kinder. You may have made a slight impact by then ;)

Posted by: Kate at November 6, 2006 12:16 PM

I saw someone mentioned an email. I think that's your best way to go. It would save a lot of time and effort and if someone emails you back all, "shut the fuck up, man!", THEN you can go find them and beat the shit out of them. :D

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at November 6, 2006 12:45 PM

I think you should schedule some time to personally talk to each and every one of us out here... I think it was George Carlin who (perhaps jokingly) suggested that the world would be a much nicer place of we all had to meet each other face to face (as in all 6 billion+). He argued there would be less war: "Bomb Turkey? - no way man - I know those guys..."

Posted by: JMo at November 6, 2006 12:47 PM

I love living in a warm climate, but 93 in November? I'd just like to be able to turn off the a/c for a few months.

Posted by: amy at November 6, 2006 1:30 PM

I can SO relate to that thought.

Posted by: Lisa B at November 6, 2006 2:06 PM

While you are at it, could you give them a good talking to for me also?

I guess all we can really do is train them up right and hope that we have given them the skills they need to handle stupid people.

Posted by: Jazzy at November 6, 2006 2:14 PM

Aw, Chris. You're such a good Daddy. :-)

Posted by: Heather at November 6, 2006 3:36 PM

Hmm, I'll need to go with you on this world trip I'm afraid. And I need to make doubly sure I chat with enough males that they're very well aware of the "dating rules" Kira's daddy has ALREADY set in place (these involve guns and lasers I think). I suppose even 9mths isn't too early to start having rules and boundaries. ;)

Posted by: erica at November 6, 2006 3:51 PM

Did you see the guy on youtube with the signs to give away hugs? Maybe you should try something like that, but with something else written on the sign. But it has to be short, as people have no know on second thought maybe you should just invest in a bubble for the fact, I may need a few of those over here.

Posted by: Melissa at November 6, 2006 3:52 PM

I love the sleeper ... but Vanity Fair? What about Goodnight Moon ... or has her reading level surpassed that already?

Posted by: Heather at November 6, 2006 7:52 PM

Yeah, I don't think I'll every be able to have kids. Not because I have no one to have them with, but because I'd be completely terrified to take eyes off of them. I don't know how parents do it - good luck with that!

Posted by: Beth in StL at November 6, 2006 8:11 PM

We were at the play area at the mall today. The 2nd time in 1 1/2 years. All I kept thinking was "Oh God, please stay away from the kid with the runny nose and persistent cough." I sat nicely for 20 minutes before dashing to the bathroom to scrub her hands with alot of soap and hot water. My daughter has such a sweet nature and I hate it when we are in a play setting and she gets pushed down or slapped at by some meanie whose parent NEVER puts down the cell phone.

Posted by: Shannon at November 6, 2006 8:29 PM

My daughter is 3.5 and the only sleepover is at my mom's. I am thinking of downloading a judgment software in her brain. The other option is making her afraid of every moving thing on earth so she doesn't trust anybody but me.

If you find other options let me know.

Posted by: DavidR at November 6, 2006 9:54 PM

With your charming sense of humor, your wife's fabulous good looks, and that piglet outfit, Mia is going to be the most popular kid in school.

But if you'd like me to teach her some kung fu moves just in case someone cruel intolerant person makes her unhappy, I'm free after 3:30.

Posted by: krystyn at November 6, 2006 9:56 PM

The real world's worse than high school, because detention is no longer a deterrent to bad behavior. Have you considered the stun gun option for those who offend Mia?

Posted by: Sphincter at November 6, 2006 10:06 PM

How bout you take the US and I'll take Canada. We'll have at least covered North America. That should suffice, huh?

And, I know what you mean. The monkey likes to play on the trainset in the bookstore, and there are so many rambunctious little boys there. They don't realize she can't walk yet and needs the table in order to stand....But, I leave her be. I only interject when I think she's buggin' someone else's kid. I'm a bystander. I'm not even there. I'm fascinated by this independence of hers (as I said in my own post today :)), and overwhelmed. :) It'll be hard to see them anything but happy. As it is now. But, we'll give the world a talking to, and it'll all be good. (rambling much?!) :)

Posted by: haley-o at November 6, 2006 10:13 PM

I hear you! I feel the same way, and it doesn't get any better as you see them interact (and accidentally get hurt) by other kids. I guess that is part of the growing up experience--if I can just let them go at it!

Posted by: Krista at November 7, 2006 1:00 AM

Don't beat yourself up man, I do the same thing. It gets pretty cold here, relatively, I mean I am in southern California, and I've taken the kids to the mall for nothing else but a Happy Meal, some time in the play area and maybe a Cinnabun. I'm not above that.

Posted by: whit at November 7, 2006 1:09 AM

Adorable costume. This is the age where "big kids" become much more dangerous - the toddling age. I walked around pretty nervous during that time. Then one day I woke up and realized that MY kids WERE the big kids, the ones that were threats to other people's little kids, and that rocked my world.

Posted by: Kristen at November 7, 2006 11:15 PM

Thirteen years ago, we met a pair of 5-week old fragile twins whom we knew would have problems. They joined our other son, then age 2, as part of our family. I had all those same thoughts...and now, with those two in middle school, I still want to watch them to make sure they cross the street okay, but they won't let me (what they don't know, though, won't hurt them). All those things happen--kids have picked on them, they have had multiple tumbles and skinned knees and elbows, cried tears of sadness, struggled with homework that they have to figure out themselves, and learned to do the right thing, not just the thing they want to do, most of the time. It's all a part of the cycle and if they can get through all of that and come out the other side strong, independent, and resilient, we've done our jobs well. Be brave and know when you let go of her hand, it will be time.

Posted by: Lori Hahn at November 8, 2006 12:13 AM

The first realization that your baby will someday soon be a person of the world, is scary and sad. Your a good dad, she'll do great!

Posted by: Nila at November 10, 2006 9:15 PM