Teenager

Bakers Dozen Jane

I often wish that I could take a new understanding that I get from watching my kids and bottle it up and then pour it into their head. To show them what I see.

This weekend we welcomed Jane into the realm of the teenager. I haven’t been ready for the past thirteen years and I’m still not. The things I have taught her over these years could fit in a small pamphlet but the things she has taught me have helped fill me out as a person, on the inside. Doughnuts have helped me fill out as a person on the outside. I’ve had to wrestle with myself on what I believe and how I want to be seen in the eyes of others. I’ve softened how I interact with the world. We have learned to support the underdogs and enjoy the weird things in life. I’m definitely a better person because of her.

Several years ago she wanted to draw something. If I remember correctly it was horses. We had discussions on art and her frustrations with not being able to draw the thing that she had in her mind. I told her the secret that I wish someone had told me, “No one is naturally good at anything but peeing and pooping and everything else is learned.”

Everything. Else. Is. Learned.

When you drop out of the womb you learn to breath air. You learn to nurse to get food. You learn to cry with the new air in your lungs and you learn to enjoy human contact. Babies aren’t born with the ability to talk or sing or dance or draw. Somewhere along the way we try these things and mostly suck at it. Babies are terrible at almost anything but undeterred by anything. That is the magic of babies. They will try to the point of injury to do the thing that cannot yet be done.

I told Jane to keep drawing. To take one thing and draw it really well. Learn why it looks like this or that. Practice shading. Practice shapes. Draw the same damn horse five million times. Use every sheet of paper and all of your markers to make a pile of terrible drawings. Then take the things you like and put them together in a new drawing. Throw the rest away. Keeping doing it. Practice with anything that you might ever want to draw. Then one day, you will look up from the scribbled bodies strewn around your floor and you will realize not only can you draw but you are an artist.

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She has been into drawing Anime characters in the latest drawing phase. She is an excellent artist. She has found several apps that help develop the drawing process and shading and even time-lapse her work.  She has even started teacher her sisters some art basics.

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I fancied myself an artist back in the day but I wasn’t nearly as talented.

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Jane has always made me proud. She has always known what she liked and been brave enough to be herself. From an unprompted Lord of the Rings fandom to making more money that I expected from competitive goat showing, Jane is always chasing a new passion.

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She always looks to me to smile or give a thumbs up of approval. She brings her drawings to me when she finishes and I always take a picture on my phone. I have a running record.

The truth in a bottle that I would love to pour into her head is that we are both seeking each other’s approval. I want to be sure that I am a good father and she wants to be sure that she meets my approval as a daughter. The funny part is that as long as we are both trying our best, the other will never be disappointed.

I hope that the next thirteen years are just as fun and interesting and amazing as the last round.

Happy Birthday Jane!

If you have kids growing up way too fast, this post is for you. You’re welcome. All of my kids are awesome but they weren’t all born on the same day so this one is for Jane.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

That’s What She Said

My kids say weird things and I’ve covered some of that stuff before but sometimes what they say isn’t as weird as my brain’s context. My knee jerk response as a dad is different than a teenager, or it should be. But lets have a few beers and blog this out. Sometimes I just want a friend in earshot to hear what they say and lock eyes with me in acknowledgment of how awesome that phrase could have been.

From what I remember of my childhood, questionable topics crept into my life around 3rd grade. I learned about birds and bees on the school bus. Not direct experience, everyone settle down. My area was rough but not that rough. I had body parts explained to me through the poetic power of song. Also, I had a friend with some questionably obtained adult magazines that he hid in a rotten tree stump in the woods. We would grab our plastic guns or bicycles and feign interest in playing war only to go and inspect some wrinkly and moldy pictures of boobs. Discuss the reality of such things and ogle. There were maybe four total, in the whole magazine. (Which is why I learned to love the articles.) Once you learn a taboo topic you also find ways to joke about it with friends.

A fast forward learning timeline; [Birds and Bees] = Elementary School, [Interest in Actual Girls] = Middle School, [Abandon Ambitions to Focus on Actual Girls] = High School through Engagement (which required me to remove the (s) from said girl description). During this time I honed and crafted an arsenal of gutter minded, deadpan, and innuendous catch phrases. True mastery. A tuned ear for “That’s What She Said” type of humor that was less acceptable as I got older which sucks because I got better. The even crueler trick is that my kids have no filter for things they say and fountains of poorly chosen words fall out of their heads.

I have to stand idly by while they say awful things. Like trying to describe an aptitude for sports with phrases like “He is really good at balls.” Or we are reading Dr. Seuss, working on rhyming sounds and one reminds me that “Hey dad, do you know what rhymes with Box? Cocks!”

Dammit. She is right. Cocks does, in fact, rhyme with Box. (This is the point in a past life where my buddy would say something similar and I would elbow my wife and say “That’s What She Said!” usually receiving the eye roll.)

Do you know how hard it is to keep a straight face while other adults in the room are staring at you with wide eyes, wanting to laugh and react and you have to keep a poker face? No. No you don’t. Only Lady Gaga and I know Poker Face at this level.

So if you ask your kids what the door prize was at a birthday party and they tell you it was “A Candy Ball-Sack” and you giggle. This post is for you. I hope I’m not the only one who struggles. If you are going to question anyone, it should be the person handing out “Candy Ball-Sacks” at a child’s birthday party. For shame! You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.