Playground Perspectives: February 2012

This is the moment I've dreaded in parenting - and one I thought that I could somehow avoid. Yes, I am now the proud father of a princess-obsessed daughter.

As she charges toward her fourth birthday in April, a combination of genetic messaging and unintentional influencing from her preschool community have brought us to a bright, sparkly and pink moment.

The Princess Moment. How serious is her obsession? I brought her to tears one recent night when I made the mistake - while composing and performing the obligatory "Goodnight Song About A Princess" - of having said princess climb a tree and splash in mud. Between tearful sobs, I was alerted to a simple fact: Princesses do not like to get dirty. "But I like to climb trees," I protested. "Dad," she replied, between tearful sniffs, "you can't be a princess."

Playground Perspectives Feb 2012

True to form, Thea's version of being a princess is distinct - combine her love for layering clothes, wrists and neck laden with plastic jewelry, and a bright pink head kerchief, and you've got a much cuter version of Johnny Depp, pirate princess.

On another (though related) note, would you be surprised to discover that our active child loves to dance? She walked out of her first dance class (appropriately named "Dance for the Spirited Child") giddy and excited beyond belief.

From the time she was born, I have reveled in long moments of spinning and dancing around the kitchen with our wee (no longer) girl in my arms. We have gone through Ella Fitzgerald, the Clash, Fugazi, ABBA, the Waterboys, Pavement and more. It is a delight to see the same joy on her face as she discovers movement and her body on her own terms.

There are lessons here about change, about influence, and about acceptance. There are opportunities - always, always - to stop and ask myself the most important of questions, like "What's my role in this relationship right now?" and "Is this about Thea, or about me?" Especially that last one.

As Thea continues to step out into the world, and through the many iterations of self that she will embrace on her journey, it will be increasingly important to know when to intercede, or influence, or advise, or get out of the way. While I'm at it, I'll try hard to hit the pause button occasionally and make sure my best parenting moments are about her success, not my own.