Category Archives: Parenting

Little Trees

Cora’s making up a song as she looks out the window at all the snow falling today. I liked it enough to post, though I have no idea what it means. Cora’s three years old, BTW.

(In the cadence of the typical talk-rock heavy metal band…)

Little trees
Little trees
Falling down on me.

Little trees
Little trees
Falling down on me.

(Begin sing-along melody here…)

Everyone in the Hundred Acre Wood
Everyone said, “You go in style.”
Followed by a really big fish
Everypeople came.


Cora likes The Boohbahs. It’s a kids show on PBS that involves a lot of exercising and running around, and Cora loves to dance and run around right along with it. She started slow at first, but now she tells me, “Daddy, dance!” when Humbah, Zumbah, Zing Zing Zingbah, Jumbah, and Jingbah start running around.

The best physical description of the Boohbahs from a news organization comes from the AP via CNN: gumdrops clad in Astroturf. My impression is that the Boohbahs look like visitors from a planet where the dominant species had evolved from shag rug and then grew exceedingly obese and sparkly.

Cora, however, does not judge by appearances. The Boohbahs make fun sounds and do fun dances and have a cute little dog named Fido. And, except for the carpet fiber exterior, she’s becoming one of them.

A Sort of Sorrow

Sometimes lately when I’m playing with Cora, as the day that will bring us her little sister draws closer and closer, I feel something akin to sorrow as I think that we’re about to lose this one-to-one, me-to-her, one daddy-to-one daughter relationship that Cora’s known for her whole life. I don’t regret the second child, just the loss of the completely unique relationship with Cora. It won’t be one-to-one anymore: daddy has two little girls.

And she doesn’t even have enough understanding at this point to think it over and get ready for the change. Just one day, suddenly, everything’s different and there’s no way to go back.

I can understand if Cora ends up viewing the change with more than just a mild sorrow. After all, if the situation were different and instead Cora was getting a second daddy, I’d be very jealous of that very lucky person.

All American Girl

Cora could be called the all-American girl. I’m older now, but when I was younger I would have qualified as the “boy next door.”

I got the feeling the other day that I don’t want to always relate to Cora as Daddy, the old guy who’s only good for money and car keys, who makes her eat vegetables and enforces a bedtime. Sometimes I’d like to relate to her as just two people who enjoy each other’s company. Why do we have to see each other only generationally? We could be the perfect pairing of the all-American girl and the boy-next-door.

One Year Old

We’re coming up on an important little anniversary: somebody’s about to turn one! It’s pretty amazing to think about how much growing has been packed into this first year. We all start out having to rely on others to ease us into our new existence, but in a few weeks we’ve gotten the knack of feeding, clothing, diaper changes, and two-hour sleep cycles. There’s not much freedom of mobility in the beginning, but by the end of the first year, with the help of others, we’ve gotten our feet under us and are starting to go places on our own.

I’m talking about Tina and I of course: we’ve been parents for a year now! If you thought that last paragraph was about Cora then you need to read it again. But yes, Cora is turning one too.

We’re thrilled with Cora’s progress. She’s talking—not in English, but vocally. She’s standing unsupported and starting to take steps. She’s very smart. She’s sleeping through the night, eating all kinds of foods, and learning to stay with a babysitter without too much fuss. (If you’re some sort of internet stalker weirdo, you should also know that she’s afraid of strangers, has venomous fangs, and is believed to be sacred by a fiercely protective sect of Laotian ninja monks with sharp swords and a distinctly eastern conception of justice.)

I’m also proud to recognized our own progress. For the first few weeks Cora just needed to be kept full, clean, and warm. After that she needed to be comforted, engaged, and entertained. Then came socialization and education about words, utensils, and what should not be inserted into the VCR. I think that the subtlety of our parenting skills has grown right along with the intricacy of Cora’s needs.

Now we’re getting to impulse control. Heaven help the one-year-old parents!

Worth a Thousand Words

Cora smiling

This is one of the ways that Cora smiles. Well, maybe “smile” isn’t
the right word, but it’s the face she makes when she’s excited about
something. Much like someone just tipping the hill in a roller coaster,
she tenses her muscles, throws her mouth open, and starts shrieking and

This is an expression of pure anticipation: she knows what’s coming
and she can’t wait. She’s full of excitement and, man, is she happy!

This expression tends to only show up for experiences that are fairly
new to her; or at least ones that haven’t lost their luster.
As her parent, I love what this expression means.
Whenever I see this face, it means that my little girl is pushing the
boundaries of her existence, doing something that’s new and exciting,
and enjoying the ecstasy of exploration. She’s discovering the world
that I already know, and she’s telling me that, as a newcomer, this is
the coolest place she’s ever been.

It’s just like that roller coaster I mentioned earlier:
the exhilaration we all feel — have to feel — when we’re
taking that plunge. I haven’t shrieked with joyful anticipation over
anything in a
long time. Cora says that it’s my own fault. She says that playing in
the bath is so much fun that it’s worth a shriek just thinking about it.
She says that there has never been anything as cool as a swing set on a
playground in a park near a lake, seeming to say, “This is no time to
be nonchalant: this is a playground!”

I try to show
Cora the world through my eyes, but I think on this score she may be
right, and I may need to see it her way. I think I need to take that
ride and find that coaster and tip that hill and shriek, just because
there’s so much fun to be had!

Wakey Wakey

I just got done putting Cora back to bed. For any interested parents-to-be out there, here’s a page from the baby survival guide. When baby wakes up at 2 a.m. crying, it’s a good thing. That means you just have to change a diaper or make a bottle, and then baby will go back to sleep. When baby wakes up at 2 a.m. giggling, it’s a bad thing. That means that baby thinks she’s gotten enough rest and is ready to start the day.

I’m certainly glad I went to college: where else would I have learned the wee-hour-of-the-morning skills that still serve me so well today? That baby didn’t realize who she was messing with. <crunch of beer can on forehead>

Down on my Knees

Cora?s getting ready to crawl. I don?t think she knows that, but all of the pieces are coming together. She definitely wriggles a lot more than she used to, and she can form a “bridge” by supporting herself on her hands and knees. She also rolls around a lot when she?s on the floor. She doesn?t roll in the directed sense of rolling from here to there, but in the less-purposeful sense of just rolling and rolling and rolling because she can.

My point is not that she?s about to crawl, but that she doesn?t realize she?s about to crawl. She?s just stretching for toys that are out of reach. She doesn?t appreciate the fact that trying to get to those toys is making her muscles stronger and improving her coordination.

Of course, she?s just a baby now, and what motivates her to all of this work isn?t very sophisticated. Her desire is simply to reach the purple elephant. But long after she?s lost interest in the purple elephant, crawling will still prove useful. Long after she’s lost interest in crawling, her strength and coordination will still prove useful.

Metaphorically speaking, how many purple elephants have I gone after in my life? How many of my current ambitions are tomorrow’s purple elephants? What am I going to learn in the process of chasing them? Is there a qualitative relationship between the things that motivate me and the person I become?

High School Sweetheart

Before Cora enters high school, I want to start taking her on dates. By the time a classmate first asks her out, I’ll have been dating her for years.

I doubt that she’ll think of our father/daughter outings as practice dates, but that’s how I’ll view them. I’m going to try my best to model the sorts of dates that I hope she has for herself, and to model the sorts of behavior I want her to expect from a gentleman. I want to find out what’s on her mind and get to know her better. I want to be charming. I want to get her used to the polite respect that she deserves in the hopes that she’ll come to expect it from others.

Sometimes the thought of letting Cora go off with some boy that I don’t know bothers me. But the best way of forestalling any disaster, besides threatening to put his teeth in his stomach, is to prepare Cora with the real thing, so that she can recognize a counterfeit. It raises the bar a notch for those boys when they have to talk to her and engage her interest, and can’t get away with just a cheeseburger and some necking. I mean, come on, dude! I could have a better time with my dad!

Someday her social calendar may be quite full, and it’ll be an effort to squeeze me into her schedule for a dinner together, or for a cup of coffee in the evening. I hope she makes the effort. And one day the roles may be reversed, and Cora will be breaking her dad out of the old folks home for an afternoon together. And she’ll want to know what’s on my mind, and she’ll try to get to know me better, and she’ll be charming, and she’ll give a silly old man the respect she wants him to get from others.

Ask My Children

Small children are pure observers, with no ideology or interest to color their perceptions. When we teach someone in a scholarly sense, it’s our words and the strength of our arguments that count. Our private actions may contradict our words, but our actions never enter the equation. When we raise children, they learn from our actions long before they understand the nuances of our rhetoric. Taking them to Sunday School once a week — or teaching them to say a bedtime prayer each night — doesn’t mean much if we aren’t living like Jesus the other six days.

This is a comfort and a conundrum. You’ll never be judged too harshly for words you didn’t mean if your actions show that you didn’t mean them, but you’ll also not be let off the hook if what you say and what you do are inconsistent.