“No, daddy…you have to raise your pinky when you drink the tea. It’s fancy.”
“Raise my pinky?”
“Yeah, like this.”
“Daddy doesn’t want to raise his pinky. That makes daddy question his gender role and sexual orientation.”
She stares blankly at me with giant, 4yr old eyes.
“Daddy is joking.”
“Just raise your pinky, daddy.”
“Fine, but then I get to take off this fucking feather boa…”
And thus, the tea party continues on and my manhood sinks into the dark abyss.
It wasn’t always like this. And I mean that as in 30 minutes ago my daughter and I were killing aliens aboard her magic space carpet…and it was glorious. We had racked up heavy casualties and the fog of war was thick, but we were winning goddammit. The earth had a chance. Then my daughter decided she wanted to take the aliens to a tea party instead. I tried to explain to her that this was no fucking time for diplomacy, but she was resolute…and she doesn’t know what the word “diplomacy” means and it made her giggle. So I tried to fly with it.
“Can we put poison in the alien’s tea? So then they die and we win.”
“No, daddy. That’s mean. And I want to give them cookies too.”
When I was a little rugrat, I pretty much lived in a fantasy/sci-fi world 90% of the time. I would patronize reality only when absolutely necessary or forced to, otherwise I was knee-deep in GI Joe, He-Man, or racing around the house killing whatever evil threat I could conjure up in my brilliant little head.
Imagination is what makes us what and who we are, and childhood is the place to let it run buck-fucking-wild. It was a skill and tradition I was confident I would pass on to my kid. And I did.
The difference is that my kid was born with ovaries instead of testicles. And with those ovaries comes an entirely different set of imaginary interests. Interests that seem to surface rather quickly whenever we set off for the land of make-believe.
I offer up the idea of killing monsters and flying airplanes, which any 4yr old will quickly agree to. But as the minutes tick by, the conversation and level of play quickly switches gears:
After about 10 minutes, she no longer wants to shoot the monsters, she wants to style their hair in her Barbie hair salon. And she wants me to help.
After 15 minutes of playing superheroes, she no longer wants to save the city, she wants us to use our super powers to babysit her dolls-which is a clear waste of superhuman strength but this point is completely lost on her. She tells me I can just carry more dolls to the zoo then. And I do. And she makes me keep the cape on (which is fine because I look good in a cape).
And so we sit at the alien tea party, my daughter smiling from ear to ear, making adorable peace with the enemy, while I am forced to serve them more cookies and keep my goddamn pinky waving high. It’s miserable…but it makes my little girl happy. She’s not a blood-thirsty warrior, she’s a princess. She likes dolls not guns (her loss). She’s a little girl…and she’s her own person.
I’m ready to admit defeat in my quest to make my daughter something she’s not. I can’t project my boyhood aggression on to her and I shouldn’t want to, I guess.
I relent and consider this to be my last attempt at pushing machismo violence upon her gumdrop imagination…but then:
“Okay, daddy…we can shoot them now.”
“Yeah, they said my tea is yucky so we can shoot them!” she says with a wicked grin. I pull out my triple-barreled plasma rifle with photon grenades and drop it on the cookie plate.
There is hope for this young one yet.
We dash from the table, guns blazing and grenades firing.
And I keep my feather boa on.
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