“Do you know who that one person is?”

We are having a bit of a tussle about hair-brushing. I brush Mookie’s hair almost every morning, and while it is a pleasant ritual much of the time, I would like it to be something I do now and then to be close, not something I do because she can’t or won’t do it herself. This morning, I handed her the brush when we got in the car, because we hadn’t had time before then. She showed no signs of brushing. So I gave her my Appearance is Communication speech, the first of many, I’m sure. I said that what we wear and do with our hair expresses something. The man who wore old jeans and an untucked shirt to his mother’s memorial service (I may never get over this) seemed to be saying that it was not a very serious and special day, the way you would expect of the day someone says goodbye to his mother forever. When you don’t brush your hair for school, it seems like you’re saying that school and the people there and the things you do there are not very important to you. This all went over about as well as you would expect.

Mookie: What I’m saying when I don’t brush my hair is “Hi! Want to play?”

Mama (after getting laughter under control): Well, it’s true that hair and clothing aren’t very precise communication. Some people might take it just that way. Other people will take it as a sign that you don’t care about school.

Mookie: You know how many people will take it that way? (holds up one finger, looking all the world like an experienced litigator) One! And do you know who that one person is? You.

Seven years old or 37? You decide.

I decided I might get further with the pragmatic argument: if you have long hair and you don’t brush the knots out at least once a day, you will end up with huge knots that don’t come out no matter what, and you will have to cut your hair off above the knots. She saw some logic in this, but insisted, “It’s just one day!” Yeah, well, kid, if you don’t do the brushing this one day, and then you don’t do it the day after because it’s even harder, then before many days have passed, the hair is going to grow a rat’s nest of a knot. I told her that to keep long hair, she needs to show me she can brush her own hair, and that means that when I run my fingers through it, I don’t hit any knots. She did not achieve that level of prowess this morning. We’ll keep trying. Anyone know any romantic movies that show the heroine giving her hair a hundred strokes with the brush?

Which Star Wars character would you be?

According to Geekcraft, the creator was "Mayamagination"--I have not been able to confirm with her.

Darth Vader Princess in action. According to Geekcraft, the creator was “mayamagination.”

Earlier this summer, Mookie and I walked by a camp program (not hers) that clearly had a Star Wars theme, as all the kids were in costume. Among the boys, there were a variety of Star Wars characters. Among the girls, there was one: several versions of Princess Leia. It was kind of like an Elvis impersonator contest, with a wide variety of complexions, hair colors and sizes all in flowing white gowns and cinnamon-bun hairdos.

I said, “That’s a lot of Leias!” to the counselor, who gave a wry shrug–“They all want to be the Princess.” Now, Princess Leia is a badass, so, they could do worse for a role model. But as we headed home, I asked Mookie what character she would be if she were in that camp. She considered carefully and said, “First choice, the big hairy thing.” Chewie? I said. Yes. “Second, Darth Vader. Third, Princess Leia.”

Sounds like a plan!

Math nerd at play

Mookie and her two-years-older cousin N. were sharing lots of giggles over dinner tonight as Mookie engaged N. in one of her favorite pastimes, Math Quiz. She posed math problems and he solved them. They quickly got into Math Nerd Humor, Elementary School Division:

M: What’s 13 x 1?
N (feigning puzzlement): Um . . . 13?
M: (collapses laughing)

Then:

M: What’s ten times zero times zero times zero times zero . . . (collapses again)

Then he started giving her problems. “What’s -42 divided by 2?” Mookie had no idea what he was talking about. “Negative,” in this context, was a foreign word; she literally said “Huh?!” I suggested to N. that he explain negative numbers to her–she’d enjoy them–but then we heard this:

N: What’s negative 300 plus negative 301?
M: Um . . . 601–wait, no, negative 601.

At this point Joy’s eyes and mine met across the table, both clearly saying, How the hell does she know that?

This child’s intuition for math is astounding. Maybe she gets it from Joy.

Nipping a crisis in the bud

I picked up Mookie from camp and announced that I was going to put on some music and do some cleaning. I hunted around a little for Sgt. Pepper (she loves the Beatles), but, not finding it within a couple of minutes, I decided on Bringing It All Back Home instead, and told her I was putting on Bob Dylan.

Mookie said, “I hate Bob Dylan!”

“Sorry about that,” I said, and started washing the dishes and wondering where I had gone wrong.

“Maggie’s Farm” came on. “That’s not even music!” Mookie declared. I admitted to her that other people have said so, but that they’re wrong.

With some reluctance, I reported this conversation to Joy, Mookie’s Mommy. Her response, after a hoot of laughter, was “I swear I didn’t tell her to say that.” My response was I clearly should have begun this process a long time ago. But it’s not too late. Honestly, how is one to become a properly rebellious, righteous, revolutionary teenager without the likes of “Maggie’s Farm”?

UU day camp, revisited

Earlier this year I posted my wish that there were a UU day camp nearby. Well, it’s not quite the right location for our family for this year, but it’s progress: there is a UU Peace Camp at First Unitarian Church of San Jose! My Palo Alto colleague Dan Harper is on staff, as is one of the dads in our religious education program, a special ed teacher by profession. It looks good.

Next stop, General Assembly. Since the General Assembly only has programming for children who’ve completed grades 4-8 (and only 35 of them), I can’t fulfill Mookie’s request that I bring her along to GA. Well, I could, but she’d be very bored in “child care” with the kids age 0-9. It was fine when she was an infant and toddler, but why would I pay $700 for her to fly to Providence and back and spend the week being babysat in a hotel room? She can stay home and go to dance camp for much less money. I’d rather she connected with other UU kids, but clearly, that possibility is not on the horizon for another three years. Good thing my wife doesn’t want to go to GA.

I suggest that congregations in the Portland, OR, and Columbus, OH, areas think seriously about offering a day camp during the General Assemblies coming up in their cities. I would seriously consider bringing Mookie all that way, carbon footprint and all, if it meant we’d have evenings together and excellent UU programming for her during the day.