SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
I am a man well suited for the modern era.
I'm excellent at cocktail party conversation. I have a wicked backhand. And I can make my own sushi.
However, because of those traits, I thank God every day that I wasn't born a caveman. Living in a society where premiums were placed on brute strength and hunting skills would have been difficult for me. Unless I did something drastic like invent fire, I imagine my days as a caveman would have been extremely short-lived.
As the old joke goes...the lion may be the undisputed king of the jungle, but airdrop him into Antarctica, and he's just a penguin's bitch.
Why am I bringing this all up?
Because my daughter is a million times tougher than me. Seriously, she's like from the old country or something.
Unlike her coddled father who requires a steady supply of sinus medication and cashmere blankets to make it through a winter, my daughter is a freaking beast of a human being. She's never cold. She runs faster than Marion Jones on steroids. And I've seen her bounce straight up after taking hits that would crumple a professional rugby player.
And in her 3.5 years on this planet, she has NEVER been sick!
Sure, she's had the occasional fever. And a few times, we've had to keep her out of daycare. However, everything she's ever had, she's recovered from within a day or two.
However, ever since Saturday night, the poor Peanut has been sicker than hell. She's had a terrible fever. She's been diagnosed with strep. She's completely lost her voice. And until yesterday, she couldn't even keep any food down in her system.
If it were me, I'd be crying for my mommy and e-mailing all my friends to visit me on my deathbed.
My daughter isn't complaining a bit. She just sits there and toughs it out. Sometimes, it's almost scary how tough she is.
I look at her and I now know what it means when they say certain traits skip a generation. My father is a tough motherfucker. He was physically abused by his parents in Korea until he ran away from home as a teenager. He survived for years as a street urchin, sleeping outside in the snow without a jacket or even a blanket. Later, he got shanghaied into the U.S. Army and even bullets couldn't slow the man down. The Army was so amazed by his toughness, they gave him a Bronze Star.
I used to look at myself and be amazed at the fact that such toughness could leave the gene pool in the span of a single generation. But now, looking at my daughter, I see it never really left in the first place.
Oh well...tennis, anyone?
IT'S THE ABRIDGED VERSION, DAMMIT!
Over the course of the Peanut's lifetime, she has often favored one parent over the other. In the past, BossLady and I used to joke about it. Whoever was most favored at the time could frequently be seen running around the apartment naked, yelling "I'm number one! I'm number one!"
However, with great power comes great responsibility.
The person with Most Favored Parent status is adamantly required to put the Peanut to bed every night. No substitutions are allowed and no one else is permitted into the bedroom. These rules are strictly enforced by the Peanut.
For the past 6 months, I have been Numero Uno. At first, I was completely excited and honored. I hadn't been #1 in almost a year. It almost felt like I'd won an Academy Award. Every night, Peanut and I would go to her room at precisely 8:00 pm. I'd read her books for half an hour. We'd talk about what we were going to do on the weekend. And then I'd lie down on the floor next to her until she completely fell asleep. By the time I'd left her room, it could sometimes be as late as 9:30 or 10:00. Ridiculous, right?
Now, I don't read her books anymore. Or stay in her room. I've got the whole bedtime routine down to under a minute.
What's my secret?
Abbreviated stories and Starburst candy. My daughter will do anything for a Starburst. Natch, make that 1/4 of a Starburst.
Now, at 8:00 pm, we go into her room. I turn off all the lights and I say, "Once upon a time, there was a girl named Cinderella who lost her shoe and became a princess. The end. Go to bed."
Then, like a lion feeder at the zoo, I toss a few pieces of Starburst on her bed and run out of the room.
I know I should feel guilty about this but, shit, American Idol comes on at 8.
FLATTERY WILL GET YOU EVERYWHERE!
What the hell happened to manners in this country?
I know I've riffed on this a million times before (and maybe living in New York makes it worse) but there are times when I find myself gripped by an overwhelming desire to smack our entire country upside its collective head.
You can't get out of the subway in the morning these days without some idiot trying to spawn upstream into the train while everyone else is trying to get off.
Don't even bother sneezing in an elevator anymore. Instead of having people proffer a kind, "Bless you!," you're more likely to hear them utter, "Better not get me sick, asshole!"
And to the lady in my office building the other day? When I hold the door open for you, the correct reply is "thank you," not "I got it myself."
I always swore that if I was only going to teach my daughter one thing, it would be manners. I don't care if she never learns how to read a single book. She's going to be the best-mannered functional illiterate in the whole damn country.
So far, everything is going according to plan. For a 3.5-year-old, the Peanut is unfailingly polite. I couldn't be happier.
Lately, she's learned the concept of "the compliment."
For those of you with toddlers, it's a fascinating phase. In the adult world, flattery is a lost art. Compliments have become valueless currency that no longer bear any meaning. However, for little kids, compliments are not only a way of being polite but also a manner in which to express their love or admiration.
And because we see kids as being wholly honest and forthcoming, we always take their compliments to heart. We then praise them for being so nice. However, this creates a cycle in which the child seeks praise so she doles out compliments constantly. It can be cute but it can also be annoying.
The other day, Peanut was in full-compliment mode. Those are nice jeans, mommy! Hey daddy, I really like your sweater. This is the best spaghetti ever. You're such a good daddy. I really like your boots.
Blah, blah, blah.
I really started tuning her out when she began complimenting the dog.
However, right before bedtime, she came up to me and said, "Daddy, you have really great hair."
Needless to say, homegirl got two Starbursts that night.
You guys have sent in some great banners. Keep them coming. I'll post my favorites by the end of next week and we'll decide on a winner. Thanks.