My nine-year-old daughter brought forth the following question while we drove home from Hogwart’s Camp the other evening: why does boys call “them” “nuts”.

I had to stop from driving into a ditch because the “them” meant “nuts” and the “nuts” meant “nuts” and I was about to go some special kind of other “nuts” – something like an aneurysm – just thinking about all the potential ways I didn’t want to discuss this topic with the intelligent, funny, athletic and gorgeous nine-year-old in the backseat.

She’s still my little girl, after all (no matter how 50’s paternalistic that sounds).

And while I have no trouble imagining her as a respected lawyer or a talented heart surgeon, I have an incredibly hard time with her using the term “nuts” and then laughing like the child she still is. It just doesn’t jibe with what I know about her and what I’ve experienced about her personality over the past nine years.

(Her ENTIRE life!)

No one tells you these things when you become a parent.

“Oh, Seth, that first time your pre-teen daughter asks you about not-so-clever nicknames for boys’ genitals (nads, junk, twig & berries, balls), it’ll just be a hoot!”


They just lob sexist crap like “you’ll have to beat the boys away with a stick” or “you’ll have to lock her up” or “you’ll have to buy a shotgun“.

You get the gist.

I’m not sure the truth is any better than the trite lies. The real truth is that now I have to explain that boys use all kinds of words to describe themselves (and her). Don’t envy me.

In short: I was/am woefully underprepared for her tweenagedom and I’d like it to stop post hast, please and thank you very much.

That said, I want to inform her.
I don’t want to hide sex or sexuality from her.
I want her to be knowledgeable and comfortable and prepared in every way, shape, and form she can be.

I just didn’t realize I’d be the Urban Dictionary for genital slang to a kid who isn’t yet in double digits.

The actual definition conversation hasn’t taken place yet, but I’m actively using any forum I can think of to solicit feedback. I’d love to hear from folks about which “dirty word” or piece of filthy sex slang you learned first, whom you learned it from and when your parents had any form of “the talk” with you.

You know, for research.

I definitely dodged a bullet though, since we were pulling into the driveway when she brought up the topic (while my in-laws were visiting), so I punted saying I “didn’t want to get into it now” or some such parental excuse.

I can feel the “next time” coming soon though.
Sooner than I would have imagined or liked, but I don’t have to imagine or like her being uninformed – I can do something about that.

Which may be this: never trust your kid at a Hogwart’s Camp at a church. It’s unnatural the kinds of things (witchcraft, monotheism, “nuts”) they’ll pick up there.

Until next time, gentle reader, watch your nuts.

My Daughter’s New ‘Do

I’m not going to include a picture because I don’t have one available. Think of this an informational post. Research.

My eldest daughter got a new haircut/hairstyle/hairdo this week and, since she’s been staying with her grandparents, last night was my first chance to see her.

First, it took an 8-year-old girl and made her look so much more mature and worldly that I could see well past the tweens and straight into her adult self. It was off-putting, breath-taking and pride-making. She seemed elegant, spoke more eloquently and had this air of poise about her.

Funny how a new look will do that to a person.

I also noted that she looked just like Veronica Lake (only with her hair swooping in the opposite direction).

My wife had no frame of reference but both my in-laws instantly smiled and shook their heads knowingly.

Maybe I’m just a proud father and – out of context for me – willing to draw attention to my daughter’s beauty (I prefer to tell her how smart or athletic she is [both true] as opposed to complimenting her appearance).

Anyhow, I’m still not posting a picture [don’t get creepy] but I will link to some Veronica Lake photos.

Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake

I’d very obviously prefer it if Raelyn didn’t become a schizophrenic, alcoholic 3-time divorcee but I do like this quote from Lake:

“I was always a rebel and probably could have got much further had I changed my attitude. But when you think about it, I got pretty far without changing attitudes. I’m happier with that.”

So while I don’t want to solely focus on Rae’s beauty (except for the purpose of this post), I do hope she becomes a strong, confident woman willing to stand by her convictions. I should be so lucky (and I’m already pretty lucky).

Love you, Raelyn.

Nausicaä Remembered

Based on a one-off tweet from Roger Ebert the other day – one which led to his blog on the Chicago Sun-Times site – I completely jumped down the early adolescent memory rabbit hole.

You owe it to yourself to watch the video and read the essay re-printed there so I won’t steal it’s thunder.

For the uninitiated, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature film and if you haven’t experienced it (or his other works), you’re missing out. As Mr. Ebert says in his tweet, “Some people haven’t seen a Miyazaki film. They should start here.”

Several of Miyazaki’s films are on Google Video and here’s an embed of Nausicaä to make it easier for you:

I first saw a snippet of the movie at a comic convention where it was playing from a tattered VHS along side a similar quality copy of the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie. One of the two left a lasting impression on me.

Later during that same timeframe (middle school is, thankfully, a blur) I caught the bastardized international version on HBO. I was struck by the glider Nausicaä flew and the goliath “Ohm” creatures.

Watching it again as an adult – with the new voice talent for its re-release – I realize how brilliant and beautiful the story is. Miyazaki isn’t just an amazing animator or brilliant inventor of worlds, he tells very deep, emotional stories too, ones that transcend his chosen medium.

I’ve been going on ad nauseam about the movie to Jenn the past couple of days and I would really like Raelyn to watch it if we can track down a copy somewhere. I’d rather see it together on a bigger screen instead of a laptop, but I’ll take what I can get.

We’ve already watched Spirited Away together and, though she didn’t quite get what it was about, the fact that it was something the two of us shared together as father and daughter was really special. Plus, I like the fact that Miyazaki’s heroes tend to be heroines and that they show much more than just the courage and bravery of standard male heroic characters.

I want Raelyn to learn those lessons but also appreciate cartoons as an art form and not just a distraction (though we both enjoy Phineas & Ferb and Spongebob Squarepants, much to the consternation of her mother).

Seeing the movie reminded me of the wonder of animation and the power of childhood memories. Spirited Away hits more of the notes of the movement of child to adulthood, but something about Nausicaä really sticks with me. Maybe it’s the earnestness and conviction of the titular character. Maybe it’s just a damn fine film.

Either way, enjoy!

Great Moments in Parenting

Every so often being a parent affords me the opportunity to reference pop culture to my children (and my wife) to mostly oblivious results.

Two recent examples worth blogging about:

Driving to work last week:

Owen: Look at that wood on the truck! (Pointing excitedly out the window from his car seat)
Jenn: Wow, that is a lot of wood!
Me: That’s what she said.

This joke never gets old for me and is still way above either of the kids’ heads.

Please to watch this compilation from The Office that includes all the utterances of said phrase. Old meme but definitely funny.

Second, an exchange I had over the weekend with young master Owen on the topic of having his diaper changed:

Owen: I don’t want to take my clothes off! (He was afraid we were going to switch him into his jammies and put him to bed.)
Me: You don’t have to take your [pause] clothes off, to have a good time.

Sad but true. Video evidence that I’ve been unduly influenced by 80’s music videos.

So there you go. Using my own touch points and memories to confuse my kids and make my spouse roll her eyes since 2003.

Happy Thanksgiving Week! (I’m thankful for YouTube, btw).