Tag Archives: kids

Julia the Mermaid

Loss of Innocence

Yesterday, my 10 year-old daughter, discovered that the Tooth Fairy no longer exists. I was packing to return home from our vacation and was about to stow some bandages in my toilet bag when she caught a glimpse of her note and tooth that she had left for T.F. under her pillow several days ago. It was a real shock for her.

My son, who is older, was different. He likes to figures stuff out for himself. My wife and I knew he no longer believed but weren’t sure when he stopped believing. He was a good sport about it though and kept Julia in the dark for the past few years, playing along, saying nothing. Today I finally asked him when he was clued in. He looked up from an episode of MythBusters and said he figured it out when he lost a tooth but decided not to tell us. He put the tooth under the pillow and nothing happend the next morning, the tooth was still there. Eliminating the variables, he put it together.

As fat tears rolled down Julia’s cheeks, between sniffles, I could feel her ache of losing something magical, something bigger than herself, someone with whom she could keep secrets. With the fall of the Tooth Fairy, others soon would follow. She tugged at this loose spiritual thread and asked me point blank about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and so on. Knowing it was time to come clean, I lay down the cards for her. By mid-morning, not only had the Tooth Fairy ceased to exist but all the other childhood myths lay shattered in pieces.

I wonder how this will change her over the next year. She’s about to go into 5th grade, the last grade before she goes on to Middle School. Many of her classmates have been telling her that Santa and the others do not exist but she’s been resisting them, choosing to have faith. Now, with that dream broken, she’ll be on the other side of the fence. Those who know the existentialist truth of a world without the Tooth Fairy.

A father worries, what will become of that innocent smile?

Photo by CC Marks
Screen Shot 2012-04-11 at 12.06.24 AM

Caine’s Arcade

Caine’s Arcade is a charming short film about a 9-year old boy who built a homemade  arcade out of cardboard boxes at his dad’s used auto part store in East LA and how a community rallied to show him some love.

One day, by chance, I walked into Smart Parts Auto looking for a used door handle for my ’96 Corolla. What I found was an elaborate handmade cardboard arcade manned by a young boy who asked if I would like to play. I asked Caine how it worked and he told me that for $1 I could get two turns, or for $2 I could get a Fun Pass with 500 turns. I got the Fun Pass.

Nirvan Mullick

Captain Haddock

Captain Haddock in Tintin in Tibet

I jumped on the latest Facebook meme and changed my profile picture to a comic character from my childhood. My father, whenever he went on a business trip, would buy me a new Tintin book. After awhile, I had every single issue and would read them from cover-to-cover, over and over again. Funny now when I leaf back through my old copies to see that Captain Haddock, my favorite character, was basically an alcoholic. Not a role model that would pass muster today but we live in different times.

Captain Haddock was famous for his colorful insults (Billions of Blistering Blue Barnacles and a Thundering Typhoon!!). You can experience them for yourself on the wonderful Captain Haddock Insult Generator.

Old School Playground

Back when I was a lad life on the playground was a little more . . . tenuous.

Everything in the playground was more dangerous. And they were different and unique, seemingly put together by the neighborhood handymen who in a burst of creative energy one Saturday morning emptied their garages of old tires, 2×4s, and chains and just nailed it all together. – Old, dangerous playground equipment

There was little adult supervision during recess. A skinned knee or elbow taught you the limits of safe. Broken bones marked the less graceful or too-brave-for-their-own-good. Kids would devise new, often alarming, uses for the playground structures. This was time before product testing and lawsuits.

Witch's HatBehold the Witch’s Hat. This was a device at my elementary school in Connecticut. The people that made this thing thought the children (imagine boys in sky blue shorts with suspenders and girls in red gingham dresses) would hang onto the bar in a neat circle and playfully skip around like merry little Dick and Janes.

The reality was more edgy. 6th graders would offer to give the younger kids “high rides” lining up a few unsuspecting subjects and invite them to hang on to one end while they would then jam the other right up next to the pole, lifting five or more kids up off the ground. As they began to spin you around it was a thrill for the first minute or so, wind in your hair, legs dangling out from under you as you whirled round and round. Once you realized this ride wasn’t going to stop, an icy determination to hang on for dear life took over.

Suspended a good 10 or 15 feet off the ground (which, if memory recalls, was rough asphalt), the bigger kids would spin the ring around the pole, faster and faster, while keeping you, now terrified, high up off the ground. Sweaty palms start to lose grip as your legs swing out almost horizontal from the centrifugal force.

One by one your classmates would fly off, thrown into other playground equipment or even the fence, bodies crumple to the pavement like rag dolls. Seeing the image of the rusted device above I can still hear the screams. It was the stuff of prison yards. I survived my high ride and learned lessons about grit, determination, the frailty of life and the cruelty of mankind.

Now everything on the playground has rounded corners and is covered in plastic. The ground is a sea of vulcanized rubber. It’s a kinder, gentler world of helicopter parents and the safety council. Maybe, as Bill Cosby says, the grown-ups were trying to bump us off.

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Sibling Rivalry 2009

A Nokia colleague of mine here in Finland had a charming update to an age old scenario. In this scene, the older sister, who is 13, is saying she has a crush on a boy in her school. It’s a boy in her school and the younger sister is dying to know who it is.

Younger sister creates a website which is all sparkly with animation and mood music and has an embedded form in it. Fill in the name of the person you love and this site will tell you if it’s a true match. It’s a trap of course. There’s a mailto: embedded into the Submit button. Anything typed into the box will be emailed to the younger sister’s email account.

The younger sister is ten.

Older sister runs across the form, can’t resist temptation and types in boy’s name and clicks on button. As soon as she does, old sis realizes what’s happening! She’s furious!

Old sis tries to logging into Young sis’ email account to delete the email. It takes her a few tries but she gets it. It’s easy to guess. She deletes the email with her beau’s name, disaster averted!

Old sis saunters into the living room, tells Young sis that she wasn’t fooled by her amateur prank – says that her password was easy to guess and she deleted the email anyway.

Young sis winks back at Old sis. Says she figured that would happen. That’s why she added a .forward file to her account that forwards any email sent
to her email address to another secret account she created just for that purpose.

Hair pulling ensues!