I haven’t been able to do a lot of the fun grown-up stuff I used to do for a few years, between the pandemic and just having kids in general. But they’re almost old enough to start playing actual tabletop games instead of Candy Land.
So we tried one. Not going to say which to avoid judgment from the Internet. Our youngest daughter was really into it and had a blast. Our oldest got too scared halfway in and we had to cut it short. So. Dang.
But those forty minutes or so that it lasted were pretty good. Looking forward to more of that sooner than later.
My seven year-old daughter is being bullied at school. Going to reserve comments on the other kid since who the hell knows if this will escalate into a legal matter or what. But it fucking sucks.
I was bullied pretty bad back in middle school. Pretty sure the reason was they thought I was gay, but then again, it might just be ’cause I was fat. Or maybe it’s because it happened in Pasadena, MD, a total shithole of a town where hope goes to die.
I remember being spat on by a series of kids I didn’t recognize before getting on the bus to go home, and internalizing all of it, thinking I must have done something wrong and feeling totally helpless. I was crushed to the point of inaction.
As an adult, I still find myself constantly shrinking into a scared 12 year-old, thinking the best thing to do when facing real struggle is to avoid “drama” and hope the problem goes away.
I owe my daughter far more than that. I don’t want to let her down.
Fortunately, my wife is vindictive, merciless, and never forgets a slight – and she sure as shit doesn’t forgive.
I’m not sure what happens next, but it isn’t gonna be silence. I have a partner to keep me in check. And we have some work to do.
We have kids. Kids want to believe in Santa. But if Santa brings our kids a bunch of presents and doesn’t bring as many to their classmates, or vice-versa, then he’s a dickhead. So how do we play this game and keep him a good guy?
We decide to tell the kids that the presents under the tree are from us, and that Santa will bring them one small(ish) gift they can specifically ask for. So we take the girls to a mall Santa early in December each year and listen in on what they want, then put that in their stockings. Boom: Egalitarian Santa.
Except Covid hits, so we can’t see Santa in 2020. No problem. We have them write letters. The kids ask for cupcakes and candy canes – simple. Easy. We can get Santa supplies at any 7-11. Santa delivers in 2020.
2021 comes around. Kids are getting their second vaccines on December 1. So instead of writing to Santa, we figure, let’s go in person. They’ll love the change of pace. But we push our luck a little and go see Santa on the 19th, since that’s the earliest weekend they’ll be fully vaxxed.
Our eldest has been asking for a Venom stuffy for weeks. And our youngest keeps asking for a Spiderman stuffy. Both are doable, even with limited Amazon delivery days left. So we figure this is in the bag. We go see Santa. Our eldest asks for Venom. Check. It’s in the cart already, just got to push the button. Our youngest goes to place her request.
She asks for a Nowhere King stuffy.
What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s a stuffy version of the villain from Centaurworld, a fun but also extremely recent (and therefore relatively merchandise-light) show on Netflix. It doesn’t exist. It might not ever exist. And finding a lookalike is tough, because the Nowhere King was not designed to be a stuffed animal and nothing on the market remotely looks like an acceptable knock-off that we could pretend to be a Nowhere King. He looks like this:
My wife and I have no clue what to do. We scramble. We check to see if anyone has started selling bootleg Nowhere King merchandise. And while some folks have, pickings are slim. The closest we can find are bedsheets. But she didn’t ask for bedsheets.
So we think about making one ourselves. We look for things we might be able to Frankenstein together. There’s this “Long Horse” character I’d never heard of that somehow made it into plush form. I start pricing out the pieces – what if we get that, then sew some felt reindeer horns on, then sew black cloth on the body of the horse thing, and shove stuffing in there? That’s sort of a stuffy, right? Except it’ll cost like $100 for all the supplies and be four feet wide. Not exactly a small gift anymore – especially not next to her sister’s modest Venom.
So we start thinking more abstract. And miraculously, we find a shop on Etsy that sells cute skeleton versions of various animals, including deer. Like this:
Close enough. So we place an order, grateful we live in the Age of the Internet. All things are magic now.
But one problem. This particular seller is in Russia. Between making the stuffy and shipping, it’s going to be 3-5 weeks, minimum. Maybe longer. Plus, given world events, who the hell knows.
So we come up with a cover story. We write our daughter a letter from Santa. In it, he politely says he wanted to bring her a Nowhere King, but it was too scary for the elves to make, so he has to go back to the North Pole and make one on his own after delivering everyone’s presents. But since the reindeer are scared of it, too, he has to drive back, so it might take awhile.
We email the letter to a family friend who graciously volunteered to hand write the letter (thanks again!) and she prints it out on nice cardstock with a candy cane letterhead. Then we drive out to her house to pick up the letter, carefully pack it in a rigid envelope to keep it flat, and bring it back home under lock and key to preserve the integrity of our ever-growing lie.
Christmas morning comes and the girls are mystified by this letter. They’re excited to receive positive confirmation that Santa is indeed listening. So now we just wait.
Except… the kids fear Santa will not be able to deliver on his promise if we put away our Christmas stuff. Wherever would he put the present?
So fast forward to today, and after weeks of waiting, I can finally put away our tree and all the lights. And that is why today is worth it.
It’s been a real struggle to get her to read. Which is weird, because she loves books. She keeps them with her everywhere and bedtime stories are one of her favorite parts of the day. But actually reading by herself? Lukewarm.
Last night she read a primer in record time, probably because she couldn’t wait for me to keep reading a novel to her and she knew she had to do her homework first. Whatever works, man. I’m just happy there’s progress.
Our county may be stupidly full of denialism and needlessly fighting mask mandates… but at least we were able to get more KN95s for the kids.
I’m backsliding into depression so bad that even my ray of hope is couched in the pandemic. Why is it that the less energy we have, the angrier the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers get? Do you people have nothing else to wake up to besides your rage? And if that’s all that’s left, do you even know who exactly you’re planning to die for?
Ugh. Just keeping my fingers crossed my kids stay safe. They deserve far better than this shit.
I get annoyed by it too easily. But it’s probably not going to be too long before they stop asking for sleepovers, hugs, and snuggles, and instead start yelling at me for being in the same room when they’re breathing.
Last night my youngest wanted me to hold her like a baby before she would climb up her bunk bed. In the moment I was mad that she was stalling. But she fell asleep in my arms for the first time in years, and quite possibly the last. At least I was able to make a note of the time for posterity.