July 17, 2008

Why Toddlers Are Like Magic 8 Balls

Talking to a toddler is a wonderful thing. Here's a kid who's finally mastering the English language, capable of independent thought and full of all kinds of interesting ideas and a unique way of looking at life. Having conversations with Mia is absolutely astounding. But frequently maddening. This is because talking to toddlers is a lot like trying to have a meaningful conversation with a Magic 8 Ball. You're talking but it's never clear what kind of response you're going to get in return. More interesting, the answers frequently don't really reflect the questions you originally asked. And most of the answers beg yet more questions. To illustrate, I give you several recent examples of exchanges between me and my Magic 8 Ball Daughter.

In order to head off any questions you may have, I'd like to assure you that she really does call me "silly old daddy". Beth swears she had nothing to do with this. I'm not sure I buy it. I also don't want you to get the wrong impression and think that I don't like these conversations with Mia. They're puzzling, yes, but they're wonderful. Especially in light of what's in store for me in another, say, 12 years.

What kind of kid were you? A rebel, a jock, a straight-A student, a band geek?

Posted by Chris at July 17, 2008 6:47 AM

When I was a kid, I was all the above minus the band geek. The schools I went to focused a lot on sports and people in the band we looked down upon (social status). It wasn't until after high school that I picked up the bass guitar and tried to get the whole rockstart thing going. I think when I went through my angst phase is when the whole mustic thing started. Plus I realized that since I was no longer the jock...I had to have another angle with the ladies (didn't help).

Posted by: harrylips at July 17, 2008 7:38 AM

Though I always wondered how I ended up with such a little diva for a daughter, my mom assures me that when I was younger I was just like my 6 year old is now. I was too smart for my own good (and people tended to forget I wasn't as old as I seemed), I loved to wear dresses, and I was a little princess (in my own mind).

I grew up to be a straight A, honor society member who also happened to be a cheerleader AND Most School Spirit of my senior class. I wasn't clique-y and had friends in every "group". I was the kind of girl everyone thought was the "good girl" and the kind that people really didn't know too much about. Still am, I guess.

Posted by: sarah at July 17, 2008 7:41 AM

I was an honor roll student, very obedient and sheltered. I never once skipped school, the B in chemistry was the absolute worst grade I ever got (and I was grounded for it) and my parents adored all of my friends. I never snuck out of the house, never drank or smoked, and was responsible with chores and jobs and money.

Then I went to college. And wow, was freedom ever exciting! We'll just leave it at that.

My boys are awesome. I hope with them to have some balance between the sheltered geeky kid that I was and the wild, rebellious, troublemaking teen that my husband was.

Posted by: Alissa at July 17, 2008 8:03 AM

Since you are the ONLY post in my reader, I actually have time to comment rather then speed reading 10 other things before my management notices I have done nothing all morning ;)

I was a combo of "types" I guess. First and foremost, I was fairly sneaky. I have siblings who are 10 and 6 years older then me and they were always in trouble so I sat back and watched the stupid things they did and did NOT do what they did. Consequently I got away with A LOT (well combined with the fact that my parents divorced and my mom was basically done being a parent when I was young leaving me to mostly fend for myself anyway... NOT BITTER, kay?!)

Any who, I was sort of a jock (swimmer), sort of a nerd, sort of a trouble maker, sort of a hippie dippy chick/rocker girl/alternative freak... I kind of fit into a lot of groups and hung with a lot of people so I was ONE of those people just sort of floating about and knowing a few people in every group.

Posted by: Christina at July 17, 2008 8:22 AM

I had no idea you had a Magic 8-Ball for a daughter! ;)

As for what kind of kid I was... I was the girl who hid behind my mother's legs whenever she was in a social situation, and was sick most of the time in and out of the hospital. No wonder why my mother wanted a son. lol.

Posted by: Jessa at July 17, 2008 8:22 AM

A good girl when I was small and then a total rebel in my teens! Now I am a good girl again. Got that rebel out of my system.

Posted by: Maribeth at July 17, 2008 8:26 AM

I was a music (not band) geek. I didn't play an instrument; I sang and acted instead. We were a group all unto ourselves as well!
Some of my favorite kids to talk to at my job are the kindergarteners or 1st graders, for just this reason of interesting conversations. :)

Posted by: Kate at July 17, 2008 8:49 AM

I was a little of everything all rolled into one (cue: Meredith whatsherface). I was the student council secretary (band equivalent) with a 3.8 who was on the cheerleading squad and didn't live at home so I spent most weekends throwing kick-ass parties with unlimited alcohol (thanks to my buddies dad). One of my parties actually got busted by the cops, resulting in about 50 minor in possesion charges. The cops were actually impressed by the quality and amount of alcohol present. Niiiice.

My mother said payback is hell. I hope Mila and Summer are in the band.

Posted by: Mymilabean at July 17, 2008 9:18 AM

I was a stealth rebel. I got good grades and stayed out of trouble, so teachers generally left me alone and gave me the leeway to do what I wanted to do. I had ridiculously strict parents though, so I also spent a lot of time lying. I kept a second wardrobe stored in the trunk of my friend Laila's car. I spent the night at my friends' houses a lot. And I rarely told the truth about where I was going. Or if I did, I lied about the address of where I was going. For example, the old 9:30 was actually located in a completely different area of the city based on what I told my parents.

Posted by: bad penguin at July 17, 2008 9:47 AM

I love this post! And I totally get it. After working with teenagers for 10 years, it doesn't get any better, you just learn to roll with it... I used to have a magic 8 ball thing on my google home page and when kids would come in with problems, we'd make sure to ask the magic 8 ball. Gets the laughter going before you have to do something super serious. I encourage you to buy one and get it over with. They're awesome.

And so's your daughter.

Posted by: k8 at July 17, 2008 9:50 AM

I was a STRAIGHT UP DORK but you never would have known it since I was grounded all the time. Sheesh.

Posted by: chatty cricket at July 17, 2008 9:58 AM

I think I'm a little like Christina and Penguin up there... I was a swimmer (so not that much of a school jock), I hung out with the soccer team (manager), got decent grades (without much studying), was in choir, led many of the clubs and was thought of as a "good girl" so it would shock people to see me at parties...I also did a LOT of sneaking around (never got caught) but was always home when I said I would be or within a reasonable time... so basically - I had friends in every group...

Posted by: Sue R at July 17, 2008 10:01 AM

Definately a rebel. When I turned 16 I went crazy! Drinking, doing drugs, skipping school, sneaking out of the house at night. I spent pretty much the entire 2 years between 16 & 18 grounded - not that that stopped me any. I was the oldest and no one knew what to do with me.

Sadly, I am now the most responsible person in my family. I sometimes stop and wonder what happened to me...I used to be fun, and now I feel like a stick in the mud all the time. Growing up really sucks sometimes.

Posted by: Sherri at July 17, 2008 10:03 AM

I was definitely straight-laced. I never did anything fun, took the car without permission, snuck out of the house, nothing.

I'm boring. :)

Posted by: Cassandra at July 17, 2008 10:10 AM

Absolutely hilarious! "It's a secret" and "I'm not telling you" are priceless -- and possibly also answers you have to look forward to in 12 years.
The "why?" "Why?" thing also killed me. Isn't it fun to try and use logic with toddlers?? And then just give up and play their game and collapse in a fit of delicious giggles instead?

I was a bit rebellious in my clothing choices, maybe, but was pretty straight-laced for the most part. You know those kids that are too afraid to throw a party because the neighbors might see and tell your parents when you're back in town? Yeah, that was me. A big scaredy cat.

Posted by: Caitlin at July 17, 2008 10:12 AM

awww, adorable. except for the fuck you part, lol. i was a good kid...straight a student who had the trust of my mom :) i didn't end up doing drugs or pregnant, so i must have been a decent teen lol

Posted by: tiffanie at July 17, 2008 10:31 AM

Mostly a quiet, surly dipshit.


Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at July 17, 2008 10:35 AM

I was a "freak." At least that was what the other groups called us.

We were sort of pre-goth but nowhere near as extreme. We wore a lot of black and listened to Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, White Zombie, etc.

My favorite outfit consisted of a knee length black dress, a flannel shirt, knee high combat boots-all topped off with a heavy dose of black eyeliner.

Posted by: Jennifer at July 17, 2008 10:37 AM

ahhh, im convinced my daughter is going to take years off my life when shes a teenager. shes 5 and already with the 'i hate you!' and that im a 'meaniac'. her word for meanie and maniac. great. i cant wait for dating years. will bw fine family fun.

Posted by: madmom at July 17, 2008 10:42 AM

ahhh, im convinced my daughter is going to take years off my life when shes a teenager. shes 5 and already with the 'i hate you!' and that im a 'meaniac'. her word for meanie and maniac. great. i cant wait for dating years. will bw fine family fun.

Posted by: madmom at July 17, 2008 10:42 AM

I was very shy and timid, but luckily had a few good friends. I got made fun of a lot b/c kids don't understand that shy does not equal snob. Somewhere around 14, I did lots of dumb things trying to fit in better. By 16 I was over that, thank goodness!

Posted by: diane at July 17, 2008 11:25 AM

BAND GEEK, baby! We band geeks were HAWT!

Posted by: GreenCanary at July 17, 2008 12:03 PM

Dude - so funny! Also, if you get 12 years before you get the 'fuck you' eyes... I'm going to be sooooo jealous. I like to call those eyes "hate-orade".

I was a mix. Straight A's, band geek, cheerleader, and enough rebel to have friends and some trouble, but not stupid enough to get caught. Well, at least not most of the time.

Posted by: sunshine at July 17, 2008 12:43 PM

I went to high school for purely social reasons. I was quiet and one of those on the fringe kids. I was friendly with all kinds of different groups.
As far as my parents went, I was never grounded and I seemed to do whatever I wanted. I had boyfriends all through high school. I just never told my mom all of the things I was doing and she kept my dad totally in the dark.
Therefore, high school was a lot of FUN...socially.
Academically, I barely made it out. The only reason I graduated was because my mother made me take an extra class in summer school when I had to take P.E. over again. Summer school P.E. is horrible.
Now I am the mother who is waiting every night for her 17 year old daughter to come home.
Thank god for cell phones is all I can say!

Enjoy these simple years with Mia. At least you are still in control, somewhat.

Posted by: Peggy at July 17, 2008 1:33 PM

If you ask me I was perfectly angelic as a child, all the way up through that pesky teen pregnancy - hey every angel has a little smudge on their record right? ;)My mother on the other hand swears I was less angelic than I think, senility comes so early these days :D

Silly old daddy - love it!! I could totally see you all stuffed w/ fluff and a big jar of honey, or some equivalent "daddy crack" lol

Posted by: Kris at July 17, 2008 1:59 PM

I was bad, but not as bad as other kids I went to school with. I made bad decisions, but I knew they were bad decisions when I made them.. the decisions I made were mine, and I never did anything because everyone else was doing it. I hung out with the hippies, the freaks, and some of the troublemakers. I was the polar opposite of my Brother. He was the popular Jock who got nearly straight A's his whole life.. He's a born leader and is in that role yet today. I think I felt I was constanly competing for the life that came so easily for him. whatever the reason then, We've both become successful in what we do as far as our family an our career. :) And although I may be responsible for about 90% of the gray hairs on my parents' heads, I know that they love me, even if they don't always agree with me.

Posted by: Molly at July 17, 2008 3:31 PM

I was a total goody-goody. Our parents used to leave us all alone in houses full of liquor and it never even crossed our minds to drink any of it. I made straight As, in fact my first non A ever in my life was in Chemistry when I was a junior in high school because I just couldn't grasp all those tiny molecules doing anything. I got a B though.

But in college I was a slacker to the extreme. Missed a LOT of classes, drank way more than I should have. That's my big regret from college - I should have applied myself more but honestly I think I didn't know how. School always came naturally to me and I didn't have to study. So in college I didn't really know how.

Posted by: donna at July 17, 2008 4:11 PM

Band geek. Definitely. I was in 5 music groups in my last year of high school: Senior Strings ('cello), Senior Orchestra ('cello), Concert Band (percussion), Senior Choir (soprano), and a string quartet called Fiddlesticks.

I am still proud of my band geek status.

Posted by: Talking Budgie at July 17, 2008 8:42 PM

Back in Thailand, dance and music and theater straight A with the knack to get in trouble at school by talking back to teachers (seriously, I was right when I talked back)...well until I flunked calculus. Then I came to the US and was music, theater and straight A geek with no life. Hi. :)

Posted by: oakley at July 17, 2008 9:02 PM

That is CLASSIC, Chris! So true! hee!!!! Loved this!

Posted by: Haley-O at July 17, 2008 9:41 PM

I was a "band geek" but I was not a geek! I was pretty much friends with everybody in high school, but my core group was in the band. But we were the "cool kids" of the band and everybody wanted to hang with us, true story. :) Of course, maybe that was because a) I'm cute and b) I was a drummer :)

Posted by: Stephanie at July 17, 2008 9:50 PM

I was the straight-A student with a bad streak. A little like Alyson Hannigan's character in American Pie, but sans the band geek persona. I was the "good girl" who had it bad for the "bad boys". Made for interesting teenage years. And it aged my mother horribly, I'm sure.

All I can ask is that karma doesn't come back and bite me in the ass when my kids are teenagers.

Posted by: Latte Mommy at July 17, 2008 11:55 PM

hmmm, what type of kid was I? I went to 3 different high schools but never actually moved house. I played sport, danced, had an environmental/hippy streak and was kind of nerdy getting good marks without trying. I had friends in all different groups but never really belonged in any. Some things don't ever seem to change!
Once I make a friend, they seem to be a part of my life forever - I frequently catch up with a group of friends that I went to kinder (nursery school) with!

Posted by: del at July 18, 2008 2:36 AM

Haha! Too funny!

I was frequently told I was "impossible", but I did do good at school.. not straight A's, but good.. So a rebellious dork.

Posted by: Nadine at July 18, 2008 5:29 AM

I was a "do first, ask forgiveness later" kind of kid/teen/20s. If I wanted to do it, I did it and consequences be damned!
But on the other side, I was a cheerleader, a good student and a respectful person with a very STRONG opinion which would lead me to question authority at times (and sometimes the wrong time!).

Posted by: NancyJak at July 18, 2008 11:01 AM

I was a band geek for 6 years. But not a straight A student.

Also on the pretty straight and narrow til my sister who's 2 1/2 years younger started getting me in trouble. Nothing bad, just lies and sneaking around a little.

I was out on my own at 15 (with a full time job) and mom made me come back, threatened me with truancy or whatnot back then, so I reluctantly moved home. Finally moved out at 17 and never looked back.

Had my own place/car/etc.

Posted by: been there, done that at July 18, 2008 2:53 PM

I was an absolute angel (really, you can ask my mom) until age 15. Then, ugh. My poor parents. I still owe them for some of the shit I pulled.

I always got good grades though and straightened up a lot by the time I went away to college.

Posted by: Kimberly at July 19, 2008 9:57 PM

Band geek (color guard captain, no less), good student, inside a rebel but outside a chicken.

Posted by: Lori Anderson at July 20, 2008 12:06 AM

I was the goodie-goodie. The people pleasing, church going, never drinking/smoking/doing drugs/swearing kid that always did her homework and got good grades. I even obeyed when at 18 I wasn't allowed to see a PG rated movie and told to go to "Snow White" with my date instead.

Then I moved to the city and turned 21. That summer I broke up with my equally churchy, goodie goodie high school boyfriend and began dating a non churchy, 41 year old guy with 5 teenagers and a motorcycle, and within 3 weeks I was engaged to him. 2 months later moved in with him, and a year later married him.

It was THE gossip of the tiny, churchy town I was from. I went from town angel to town hell raiser child in all of 30 seconds. Suddenly, people I grew up with saw me as bad as though I'd become a porn star.

That was 16 years ago. That guy and I are still happily married.

Moral of the story?

Every good girl has an inner rebel.

Posted by: scatteredmom at July 22, 2008 3:10 PM