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Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Shoe Girl

We didn't find out what gender our baby would be until about two weeks before she was born. Before that her long legs were obscuring any view of the crucial area in making such decisions, and so we were waiting either on a Marta or a Paul (that was to be the boy's name, although I wouldn't pick it again).

When I found out it was a girl, I wasn't sure how I was supposed to react. I guess it didn't really matter to me, though I had bet on a girl. I perhaps was relieved that I wouldn't have to teach a son anything about sports or cars, as I am deficient in those areas. I think that if a son comes I will have to send him to his grandfather for automotive courses, and to his uncle for athletic training.

But anyway - what is the difference between genders anyway? Oh, plenty. When we were in Finland I had a home stay with a family that included a litte boy named Veeti. Veeti was as boyish as boys get. I watched him literally drop his trousers in public and begin peeing, completely unashamed. Then there was the time we went to his uncle's house and he found a plugged in power drill and began squeezing the trigger. Yep, he was a boy alright.

And so Marta is a girl, as attested by our trip to the shoe store today. While I was trying to find a running shoe that fit my oversized foot, the little girl was off picking out a rubbery pair of pink shoes with a rainbow motif. I saw her excited little face from down the aisle. She had fallen in love. So we bought her little sandles. When we took them off her feet to hand them to the cashier, she threw a fit.
"Marta's shoes! Marta's shoes! Marta's shoes!" she yelled in faux hysteria.

She got her little pink shoes back and was quiet and content as could be. At home, while her boorish father was doing something so silly as writing a blog about his daughter, she found the shoe drawer. And I knew then that she wouldn't be bothering me for at least 15 minutes as she explored the different pairs of shoes and tried them on. In some ways, it's a bit of a weird obsession to have. But something tells me she isn't the first female to fall madly in love with footwear.

***Asshole Dad***

This second part of my post is unrelated to shoes. Today at the same mall where the pink shoes were bought, I had to use the restroom. There was a line at the main public restroom, so I went into the movie theater in the mall and gained access to their toilet. I was the only guy in there. There's nothing better than relieving yourself in peace when it must be done in public.

But then as I was washing my hands a Dad and his two sons came in. The father unzipped his boy's trousers and pushed him in front of the small, childsized urinal. Alas, no pee. "I thought you said you had to pee!" the father grunted impatiently. The boy appeared (I didn't look directly at them for fear of being accused of being a pervert) to try harder and then give in. It was a false alarm. Then the anxious father said something that made my skin crawl as his other son pulled away from his grip. "If you do that again, we're going home."

Why is it that so many of us Dads are just rigid assholes when it comes to disciplining our children? This guy's kids looked sort of unhappy and sort of anxious to be around their impatient father. Will they grow up to be Asshole Dads too? Will they too threaten to "go home" if someone misbehaves.

I don't know. When I try to discipline Marta (a comedy to be seen) I think I just tell her to stop doing stuff I don't like. Like "Don't do that!" I don't use weird psychological tricks like, "If you do that again, we're going home." When she is in the bath dumping water on the floor with her plastic toys, I just take the toy away. I don't engage in Jedi mind tricks. And why are we dads so uptight anyway? Is it work? Family stress? Rising gas prices? The deplorable tri-state infrastructure (third world-style roads, swamp-like subways)?

Why are we so willing to be assholes to the very kids that we do most things for? That imbue our puny lives with meaning? I am not sure I know the answer to that question. I've been bad too and I know I am guilty as the rest of 'em, but at least I see it. And it's something I really don't want to be.


Blogger Eppppp said...

...and all the way back home she was playing with her new shoes in the car.

...ja kogu tee koju mängis Marta autos oma uute kingadega.

"Tsau, papu!"
"Ooo, kui kena!
"Plaksuta tahad?"

5:44 PM  
Blogger Martasmimi said...

Oh Justin, this was such a sweet story.
You are such a good "Dad" and Marta is so lucky to have you.
Remember you will be her first love
and so as I have said before make sure she knows what "love" feels like.
*'s okay to say, or even yell No! when necessary.
Discipline is love too...

6:46 PM  
Blogger Anu said...

Martasmimi - it is very well said! - Discipline is love, too.

10:46 PM  
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8:46 AM  

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