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Conversations with My Daughter
By Robert Veres
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Robert Veres
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Bedtime Ritual
Parental duties and responsibilities can seem overwhelming to the novice parent, and some psychological experts believe that daughters can, at times, be craftier and more complicated to raise than sons. The challenge of raising socially responsible children, in the midst of the many temptations to stray from the straight and narrow, has never been greater.
In this book, you'll find numerous examples of a firm, wise hand on the parenting tiller—actual parent–child dialogues that will help you understand exactly what to say when confronted with the many difficult or unexpected situations that you are likely to experience.
For example, in the early stages of your relationship with your daughter, she may occasionally attempt to assert her independence by testing your parental resolve. This testing activity will initially come to the surface during your daily bedtime ritual—a wonderful bonding time of intimacy where you will field occasional questions about whether your daughter can, perhaps, stretch the limits of her assigned time to go to sleep.
The wise parent demonstrates a firm and confident resolve, knowing that your daughter needs and appreciates clear boundaries in her life.
"For the thirty-eighth and final time, it's time for you to go upstairs to bed. Now."
"Please, can't I watch just one more show?"
"For the thirty-ninth and absolutely the final time, no. You've been stalling for the past three hours and seventeen minutes. If you give me any more trouble I'm going to do something drastic."
"I'll—I'll light myself on fire and end it all right here."
"Cool! Right here in the living room? Can I please get the video camera out of the garage?"
"Absolutely not. It's time for bed, not for videotaping my last desperate attempt to get your attention."
"Just one show?"
"I think there's a cartoon movie marathon coming on."
"For the fortieth and final time—oh, the heck with it. Sure. Why not? Stay up all night if you want to. What do I care?"
"Why are you letting me stay up all of a sudden?"
"Because I love you and want you to be happy."
"Come on. I know better than that."
"Because that way I can get some sleep for a change without having to read all those bedtime books about little bears and cats in a hat and saying good-bye to the moon."
"So I can watch TV?"
"And eat popcorn?"
"Don't push it."
"But I want somebody to read me a book. Could you, after the movie—"
"Not a chance."
"How about right now?"
"Will you come up to bed right now?"
"I want to get a drink first."
"And I have to go to the bathroom."
"I'll wait for you in bed."
"Do you think you could light yourself on fire anyway?"
"That depends on how long you spend in the bathroom."
Chapter TwoCandy Tantrum
Nothing builds intimacy and mutual trust as efficiently as when the father and daughter take a quiet, relaxed, uneventful trip to the grocery store, sharing a common household chore. This may also, on occasion, provide a teachable moment where your little girl can learn about appropriate boundaries, and you can show the quiet strength and firmness that children ultimately crave from their loving parents.
"Is that everything on Mommy's grocery list?"
"Let's see. Eggs. Milk."
"Toilet paper. Ewww."
"Lettuce. Carrots. It said broccoli, but I crossed it off and put ice cream down instead."
"Good work. Check, check, and check."
"Wait a minute. Let me see that list."
"It said you should get me some of this candy on the way out. And gum."
"Didn't you get a candy bar the last time we were in here?"
"Isn't that a bold-faced lie?"
"I want some. Pleeaaase?"
"I curse whoever decided to put the candy and gum counter next to the checkout line in grocery stores. May he or she die of a horrible lingering illness—"
"Does that mean yes?"
"Does it mean maybe?"
"No. You had some last time. We aren't going to buy candy every time we go to the grocery store. By the time you're ten years old, you'll weigh a thousand pounds and have no teeth."
"I really, really, really want some. I do. I really do."
"Don't you want to grow up like one of these supermodels here? Look. I'll bet she never ate a candy bar in her whole life. She might not even have ever eaten a whole sandwich at once."
"You can't trick me. I want this one."
"Put it back. Now."
"Which other one can I have then?"
"None. Look, we're almost at the front. Only ... three more people in line ahead of us. One of the carts isn't even totally overflowing."
"Now! I want it now!"
"Waaahhh! Give it to me!"
"Honey, you know I'm only doing this for your own—"
Shriek. Wail. Holler. Scream. Bellow.
"Excuse me, but your child seems to be unhappy about something."
"Really? I hadn't noticed."
"Yaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! Give it to me!"
"Did you hit her or abuse her or something?"
"I certainly did not. We have a loving relationship."
"Yowl! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!"
"Couldn't you be a good father and make her stop crying? It's moments like these that a young child needs love and comfort."
"You don't have kids of your own, do you?"
"Actually, no. How did you know?"
"Yeeeeeowwwwwwww! Bwah! Bwah! Bwah!"
"Look, the strategy here is just to ignore her. When she realizes that I'm really, truly not going to give in, well, I'm hoping that will make her calm down."
"Has that ever worked before?"
"What's the problem here?"
"His daughter is screaming her head off, and he claims he wasn't beating her."
"Do you believe him? I have a niece who works at the Department of Children's Services."
"She appears to be turning blue."
"Should we check her for bruises before you make the call?"
"All right! Okay. Honey. Darling. If I buy you this nice, thick piece of unhealthy chocolate, will you please stop screaming?"
"Yes, Daddy. Oh, I love you so much."
"See? She loves me. Are all of you satisfied now?"
"Well ... are you sure it's healthy to be giving her all that candy?"
Chapter ThreeShowing and Telling
Starting with preschool or kindergarten, a child's world is suddenly divided into two entirely separate universes: the school and the home environment. The wise father will look for ways to bridge this gap and attempt, when the opportunity arises, to play a role in school activities.
One of the most surprising and enjoyable aspects of participating in your daughter's school life is gaining insight into the high esteem in which she holds you as she boasts about you to the little members of her peer group.
"Okay, darling, have a wonderful day at school."
"Aren't you coming in with me? You promised!"
"That I could take you to show-and-tell."
"Yes. And you have to come."
"All right. Let me call work and tell them that I'm bedridden with a highly contagious disease, and we can walk in together and you can tell me what to do."
"Better make it quick. I don't want to be late."
* * *
"Okay, so where do I sit? These chairs are all kind of little. I'm not in preschool anymore."
"You can sit over there on the show-and-tell table next to Sarah's pet hamster and Johnny's laser death-ray rifle."
"Stop making faces at the other kids."
"Stop pretending to eat the hamster."
"Put the death-ray rifle down. Don't point it at the teacher."
"Just sit there."
"You can get up now. It's time for me to show-and-tell you."
"This is my daddy. He's my show-and-tell thing today, because I couldn't find my talking Elmo, which I think maybe I left at Carolyn Patterson's house last Tuesday."
"Can you tell the class something interesting about your daddy?"
"He's big and hairy."
"What kind of work does he do?"
"Nothing. He sleeps a lot. Sometimes I wish he was famous, like Barney the dinosaur or Thidwick the moose."
"Can you tell us what he does around the house?"
"He teases my mommy and holds me upside down when we go in the grocery store. Sometimes he's bad and I have to spank him."
"Does he play games with you?"
"Well, what do you like the most about him?"
"Sometimes when we play hide-and-seek, I'll go into my friend Catherine's house and play, and he spends all afternoon trying to find me."
"So that's where you were hiding all that time. That's not fair."
"It is too fair. You said I could hide anywhere."
"Um, what else can you tell us about your father?"
"I still say it was cheating."
"He says he works all day, but all I ever see him doing is sitting at the computer, wiggling his fingers around."
"It's called typing. It's very hard work. The amount of work I do in a day would exhaust whole herds of elephants."
"Be quiet. Show-and-tell things aren't supposed to talk."
"Do you think your daddy works as hard as, say, a teacher does, keeping up with so many kids for hours every day?"
"Oh, no. Not even close."
"Do you think he makes more money than a teacher?"
"Well, he does have a nicer car than you do."
"Do you think that's fair?"
"Hey, wait a minute—"
"Maybe you could tell us one more thing about your daddy that the class would be interested in, and then we can have a nice visit with Sarah's hamster."
"Okay. Well ... all right. You know how sometimes the daddy likes to pretend he's a monster, and he chases you around? Well, my daddy is the best monster, because he's old and slow and can't catch me, and he gets really tired whenever I run away, and I think he'll be even more fun when he gets really, really old, like next year when I'm five and I have longer legs."
"Okay. Now we can—"
"And I think he likes Johnny's gun, but he doesn't really like to eat hamsters."
Chapter FourPlaying Cheerleader
The attentive father should always try to take time out from his important weekly activities to play games with his daughter. As he engages in this important developmental activity, his daughter will help him rediscover the simple pleasures of childhood activities and see his own adult world through fresh eyes.
"Daddy, what can I do?"
"What do you mean?"
"It's raining outside. There's nothing to do."
"You could clean your bedroom."
"Stop kidding around."
"Don't you have any friends you could play with?"
"How about your baby dolls?"
"They were all bad, so I made them take naps."
Sigh. "Do you want me to turn off this football game so you can watch one of your cartoon shows?"
"No. I want you to turn the TV off and play with me."
"I'll be the cheerleader that tells everybody what to do, and you do the cheers with me, and we'll pretend the dog and cat are the people watching the game, and I'll teach you the cheers. Okay?"
"That doesn't sound like as much fun as watching this real, actual football game. Plus, it sounds like I'll have to get up off of this couch."
"And jump up in the air and show team spirit and yell stuff."
"Can I be a very tired cheerleader and lay here on the couch?"
"Real cheerleaders don't do that."
"All right. The game's off. Now where do I stand?"
"Over here in front of the animals that are watching the game. Now do what I do. Yay! Team! Go!"
"Yay, team, go—"
"You don't have very much spirit."
"I told you I'm tired."
"Real cheerleaders aren't tired. Do it right, or I won't let you be on the cheerleading team."
"Okay, how's this? Go team, fight hard, and don't drop the ball or throw it to the wrong color uniforms or fall down when you're supposed to be tackling somebody and—you know, this is exactly what I say to the teams on the TV, except they never listen to me, for some reason ..."
"That's not a cheer. Now do what I do. Yay! Team! Fight! Go! Team! Win! Break their bones! Spill their blood! Crush their—"
"Hold on a minute."
"You're not supposed to say, 'Hold on a minute.' You're supposed to do the cheer."
"But if you're going to be a cheerleader, you can't say those horrible things. That's what the fans are supposed to say. And the coaches."
"Oh. Okay, do this one. Give me an S!"
"Give me a P!"
"Give me an L!"
"Give me an E!"
"Give me a G!"
"What does that spell?"
"Spleg? I don't think that's a word."
"You know I can't spell yet."
"Okay. Go Spleg! Fight! Win! Beat Glomph!"
"You're making fun of me."
"I'm trying to be a good cheerleader."
"If you don't do it right, I'm going to punish you."
"Don't let Glomph win!"
"Okay. I warned you."
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to make you take a horrible, terrible nap."
"Yes. Lie down right there on the couch."
"Oh no! Have mercy! Like this?"
"Close your eyes."
"Okay. Like this?"
"Now don't move until I tell you to."
"I won't. I promise."
"Good. I'm going to wake up my baby dolls and tell them how bad you were."
Chapter FiveThe Bad Student
Children thrive on role-playing and pretending, and it is always satisfying to your little girl when you participate in her world of imagination. Often your daughter will use this opportunity to reverse your roles and choose to play the authority figure.
This is your opportunity to set an example for your child and behave in your subservient capacity, exactly as you would want her to act when the game is over and you return to your position of authority.
"Let's play a game, Daddy."
"What kind of game?"
"School. I'll be the teacher and you can be the class."
"You aren't going to be a mean teacher, are you?"
"Just sit down and be quiet and do your work."
"I made up a worksheet for you."
"This worksheet has a lot of hard things on it, like letters and numbers and things."
"You would know what letters and numbers are if you had been paying attention in class."
"Do I have to do this worksheet?"
"Yes. Or I'll make you sit in the corner."
"I—I have to go to the bathroom."
"You just went."
"I did not! We just started playing."
"We're pretending you did."
"I have to go again."
"Sit down and do your work."
"But this work is too hard for me."
"Do it anyway."
"I think I'm going to cry."
"Do you want to stand in the corner?"
"Do you want me to spank your eyeballs with a stick?"
"You're being a bad student."
"If you spank me, my daddy will come and bring his expensive trial lawyer and haul you to court, and you'll have to go to jail for a hundred years."
"We're pretending you don't have a daddy."
"Then I'll get my mommy to come down here."
"You don't have a mommy either."
"What do I have?"
"You have some work to do. Now get busy."
"If you'll let me go to the bathroom, I'll come right back. I promise."
"No you won't. You'll try to run upstairs like you did last time."
"No. Now be quiet and stop crying."
"That boy over there is hitting me. I'm going to throw my chair at him."
"That girl is bothering me. I'm going to take some scissors and cut off her ponytail."
"We're pretending that the other students are behaving and not bothering you."
"Could you pretend that I'm here while I go watch the football game?"
"I'm going to go to the bathroom anyway."
"Do you want me to get my whip?"
"It's a special teacher whip. For bad students."
"I'm a very good student."
"Sometimes you are."
"Now can I go to the bathroom?"
"Let's pretend that it's time to spank the bad student."
Excerpted from Conversations with My Daughter by Robert Veres Copyright © 2012 by Robert Veres. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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