The idea of 1st grade homework seemed quaint in its simplicity. Reality was of course, another matter, and what was supposed to take no longer than 15 minutes didn’t account for endless amounts of protestation and revolt. Thursday nights were particularly bad because they involved words from the dreaded spelling list, and while spelling itself isn’t particularly challenging when you’re looking directly at the word in question, using it in a sentence can be, especially when you seem determined to display a profound eloquence while at the same, remaining unaware of the definition or concept of the word eloquence.
So the 15 minutes of actual homework would be preceded by an eternity of shouting and pleading before Special Snowflake #1 would finally consent to beginning her assignment. If it’s unclear during this narrative precisely who was the source of the pleading and shouting and who was the target, please realize such vagueness is intentional and appropriate. Homework took hours and eventually everyone present under our roof was exhausted by the time the simple activity was completed.
Many times I would be tempted to throw up my hands and walk away, yet I somehow remained insistent that the point of Snowflake’s assignment wasn’t to demonstrate to her teacher that I was the one who could use words like “house” or “square” in a sentence.
And if you’re reading this now and wondering to yourself, “it’s not clear to me at this moment either,” well, HIGH FIVE for you.
And moving on…
Summers months are different. During summer months I don’t mind demonstrating Daddy Skills. Do I wish Snowflake #1 would show even minimal interest in summer reading? Yes, I definitely do, but at the same time I’m willing to appear to embrace the summer months’ inclination toward the atrophy of the brain muscle.
I’m also eager to put my Daddy Skills to use.
I can consume more ice cream than any three people Snowflake #1 will ever know. She should just accept this and move on… and there’s so much more to Daddy Skill than my impressive ice cream consumption abilities.
I look forward to the day Snowflake #1 realizes the MadLibs she loves doing so much and the NASA facts we look up from time to time actually involve reading. She’s working that brain muscle daily as she calculates how much she’d weigh on other planets or plays geography games with my lovely red headed wife. We’re all in on this.
I call it “Dadding.” It’s a combination of “Dad” and “Winning,” and it’s best enjoyed silently. Gloating would would likely bring about an immediate halt of all activities, so I gloat in silence while looking forward to the day both snowflakes realize they’ve been had. If it happens at the precise moments of their Suma Cum Laude addresses, it will be all the sweeter.
Meanwhile there are other Dad Skills on near constant display.
When we were still active New Yorkers, Snowflake #1 and I used to practice what we would say if or when we ever had the good fortune to bump in to Derek Jeter on the sidewalk. Of course Snowflake would explain how big of a fan she was… and of course she could tell him all about the number 2… she was 3 years old, so I couldn’t deny her that… and ultimately she would ask him for his autograph.
The part we devoted special attention to was the part I struggled to convincingly explain: “Athletes think it’s cute when little girls have boy names, so when he’s signing your ball and asks your name, you should tell him it’s ‘Dan.’”
She never seemed to commit that last part to memory.
We never did pass Derek on the street anywhere, so all of the practice was for naught regardless. Every time we did see him he was working and generally too busy to interrupt. Now Snowflake #1 is too old and too smart for such things, but thankfully I have Special Snowflake #2 to help plan for an Aaron Judge encounter. Snowflake #1 is probably planning something similar and I can only feign wonder at where such machinations might come from.
While we wait for Yankees to happen by our house–a mere couple of hundred miles from Yankee Stadium–we’re consumed with other matters. Last year on the 4th of July, there was a neighborhood wagon parade and we realized way too late that prizes would be awarded for the best decorated entries. Although our last-second effort was moderately inspired given the timing involved, we failed earn a spot on the winner’s podium. Snowflake #1 was distraught and I attempted to soften the defeat by [lying and] explaining that she’d captured 4th place. It was an “honorable mention,” as I explained. The judges must’ve forgotten to mention it.
All goodness in the universe was restored as we resumed celebrating our nation’s birthday. It was even better when Snowflake found the awards table and demanded her prize for 4th place. Our confused and obviously well-intentioned neighbors were happy to oblige but unfortunately their kindness left some of the other neighborhood children (the “less special snowflakes” as I try to avoid calling them in this column) a bit confused.
Not quite the expert-level Dadding I expect from myself.
As yet another aside: I have a friend who’s a former major league baseball player. As far as players go, he’s undeniably one of the all-time best. He’s also exceptionally good natured and puts up with texts from me bragging about my snowflakes’ natural athletic prowess as they wear their pink gloves on the wrong hands and hold a giant whiffle ball bat crosshanded (yes, I always include pictures, in case you’re curious). Sometimes he writes back to mention he wouldn’t change a thing.
I do have a point here, I promise.
Snowflake #1 has the most amazing abilities when there are prizes involved. Will she pay attention during a soccer game she’s participating in? Maybe. Could she hit a moving target from 50 feet if she were blindfolded and there was a goldfish involved? I would be willing to bet my mortgage on it.
We were leaving some duck-themed carnival quite some time ago where Snowflake #1 had been busy heaving beanbags into smaller-than-beanbag sized holes and had been winning lollipops for her considerable skill. I happened to mention I would be talking to my friend later to make sure he knew how fantastic a pitcher my daughter was. For her part, she merely wanted to know if he’d ever won lollipops.
Not that I’m aware of Honey. The Cy Young Award, yes. Lollipops, no.
Anyway… the 4th of July wagon parade is nearly upon us again. Unlike homework, this activity seems to be parent dominated, and much to my lovely red headed wife’s… “chagrin” is probably more accurate a term than “admiration”—I’ve devoted a freakish amount of time to preparing our entry in my determination to earn a spot on the winner’s podium.
This year I hope to be worthy of the lollipops involved.
And destroy the competition. I want to do that too.