Oh the hustle and the bustle of Christmas shopping at the mall; the gaudy offers on every store; the mall Santa; the unending stream of people in their quest for their perfect gift. Recession, what recession?
In an effort to appease the family and gain some forgiveness in order to park my butt in front of the TV for football Sunday, I decided what better way to earn some points than to take the family to the mall.
However, this shopping trip had to be tactfully choreographed lest I find myself with a very empty wallet. Taking advantage of a birthday gift certificate, we headed to Borders. Perfect, I thought. Books! You can't go wrong with a book store! No clothes to try on, no distracting talking, light up toys, just books, and books are good!
Amber, my soon-to-be four year old, picks out a big book about the human body. I had her in white lab coats as I cheerfully placed the large book in her little arms. This was going great! Kendra, my 6 year old spotted a book just as big, about Astronomy. I could have cried! (Not to mention that the books were in the sale bin and were inexpensive)
I made my way to the back of the store and picked out a few mini-novels, fairy style for Kendra. It's time she gets off the little cardboard books and the Dr. Seuss's. I found three that they would like and I even decided to get a Children's Dictionary and give the kids the gift of learning.
I was flying high.
I was making my way back to the girls and my Sheri after picking out "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for myself, with a bounce to my step, when it happened.
I knew that look on my wife's face.
Kendra looked on with interest and a little, subtle grin.
There she was, in her little black and white, Sunday school dress, white tights, dainty black flats. Her mop of light brown hair curling over the furry hood of her black winter coat, her brown eyes as big as saucers, and her eyebrows draped at a pleading angle, and in her arms... a damn stuffed snow man.
The toy had eyes just as large as Amber's and they seemed to grow bigger as they both stared at me.
A line had been drawn.
Mommy and Kendra quickly made their way to a different aisle, eager to escape the confrontation that was slowly unfolding. They left a very pointed look from me in their wake.
I was alone.
I turned my eyes back down to my nemesis. She only hugged the stuffed Frosty closer and launched the first volley, "I love him..."
I tried hard to erect the steel walls in my mind that would prevent such an image from clouding my judgement. Finding some inspiration in the ridiculous $12 price tag, I let my voice get terse. "Absolutely not, you have way too many of those, you don't need another one."
My tone of voice allowed no room for a reply. Instead, her little face seemed to emotionally crumple; her bottom lip grew impossible large, and her head slowly dipped down to lay a tender little kiss upon the stuffed Frosty's winter cap, and then... the first tear rolled down her chubby little cheek.
There is no acid in existence, so strong and efficient, at annihilating those parental walls of reason and I had to fight the lump in my throat. But, damn it, I had to say no! No is a good medicine kids need to have early on before they grow to be spoiled and ungrateful little nasties.
"You can carry it in the store," I found myself conceding. "But you are not taking that home."
To my surprise, she accepted these terms and held on to this new found little friend, probably as a way to infuse into my mind such image, so I couldn't conceive her without her little Frosty.
I hoped to distract her with some cute Toy Story book, or anything that would place Frosty back on its shelf, but minute by minute it became painfully clear she was not letting go of Frosty.
I gathered my wits and went to my wife for some support. I hoped for a ray of light. I hoped for a good plan, anything.
"Well, after you tell her to put it back, Kendra and I are going to leave and we'll see you in the car," she said with a smile. I could only gape at her.
All around people are smiling at the little manipulating cutie in the pretty dress carrying Frosty around like a long, lost little friend.
I was determined to be a good father, employ tough love, teach her a lesson about no means no. Chest out, brow furrowed I loomed over Amber and announced it was time to leave the toy in the store as I plucked it from her little hands.
The transformation was astonishing.
The cherubic face twisted and contorted into the picture definition of suffering and victimization, and the water works begun. Her eyes pinched and her hands extended, effectively turning me into the most reviled villain in existence.
I played in my mind times of my own childhood and wondered what in the hell I was doing. I placed the Frosty back in her awaiting arms, in utter defeat. That impish grin returned, at once eradicating any trace of the poignant suffering that will haunt my dreams for the rest of my life. And there she was again, my happy little girl, the very reason of my existence, her light brown hair bouncing with each step. All that cuteness, used to manipulate my parental sense, all that cuteness used for evil.
Kid 1 Dad 0.
Down goes Frazier, under the power of thirty-four pounds of impish cuteness. Such power...
I will not spoil my kids! I say that like a mantra.
And I will give it my best effort and make it a reality, and teach them as I was taught...
Sunday, December 12, 2010
When cuteness is used for evil...
Javier A. Robayo came to the US in 1988 from Ecuador, and began writing to learn English. He published his first novel in 2012 in an effort to provide for his two daughters, who are the basis for some of his characters, as well as his wife, and many of his friends in real life. An avid blogger, Javier has attained some notoriety in his "Out of the Mind" blog with works like iAuthor series and the one of a kind D-Day. His adventures as a father raising two girls make up much of the heartfelt material on his "Letters to my Daughters" blog. Javier returned to Connecticut, after 13 years in Pennsylvania where he was a steel worker. Much of his experiences will go on to make a novel about the struggles and triumphs of working class America and the epic battles with the white collar types. Javier's works delve in Romance, Drama, Inspirational, Fictionalized Memoirs like the acclaimed "My Two Flags", and even Paranormal like his recently released short story "Requiem." His work is known as emotional roller coasters and for characters that come to life in the minds and hearts of readers like the one of a kind Lewis Bettford from "The Gaze" and "The Next Chapter."