This is not to suggest I am abdicating my role as the pater familias; far from it! I still try to teach values and to lead first by example, though my success rate isn't what it perhaps could be. I am still a good listener, and always ensure steadfast access to an open ear and dry shoulder as needed. When they do something foolish or short-sighted I call them on it, but I make sure never to confuse the behaviour with the person making it. Most importantly, I am still their foremost cheerleader and never stop reminding them how awesome they are, even when circumstance has conspired to see me overserved and the only response they can muster when I come round to the topic for the umpteenth time is, "Thanks Dad; we know."
Watching Justice League cartoons with them when they were small and talking about what is good and heroic, and what is selfish and evil, and what makes people do bad things is a considerable distance from the Socratic Method, but it gives a great opportunity to explain that no villain ever sees themselves as the bad guy. Or, conversely, to express gentle disappointment in their animation choices when I come across them watching Scooby Doo, and giving them 3:1 odds on a bet against their allowance that the ghost or monster is just some real estate speculator in a cheap rubber mask that earlier in the show somehow had the ability to articulate its mouth and blink.
As they grow older and become concerned (but not infatuated) with their clothes and hairstyles, I've stepped aside a little bit so that Audrey can teach them about both style and substance, with equal attention paid to both practicality and panache. The circumnavigation of fashion, boys, mean girls and the impacts of estrogen are best handled by someone who has been there, and it has hardly been a surprise that she has handled it so brilliantly.
Still, there are moments...somewhat rare, but definitely occurring in a statistically encouraging manner, in which they show themselves inexplicably and undeniably to be Daddy's girls.
Watching Pixar's Toy Story of Terror just prior to Hallowe'en, I was charmed to discover that black action figure Combat Carl was voiced by none other than black action hero Carl Weathers. Re-watching the scene where he is introduced by whispering "Over here" while out of sight, I exclaimed, "Hey, it's a Predator reference!" and was both delighted and pleased with myself... for about a second and a half, until Fenya, with no trace of guile said, "Really? You didn't get that?"
I was so shocked, it never even occurred to me to respond with, "Pfft, why would I? It's not even his line, it's Bill Duke's..." but that's pretty weak sauce, so it's probably just as well.
A few nights back we were all watching Once Upon A Time and it seemed like they were legitimately lining up one of the major characters to die. During one of the commercial breaks I said, "They wouldn't really kill off Prince Charming, would they?"
Glory sat bolt upright on the couch, turned to me and asked, "Who makes this show? Like who writes it or directs it or whatever?"
At first I wasn't sure why she would ask, but the honest worry on her face provided the insight I needed to respond. "Not Joss Whedon," I reassured her. She returned to reclining with an audible sigh of relief; Agent Coulson appears to be back, but I don't know if she will ever forgive him for Wash.
Fenya's birthday a couple of week's back provides a few good examples:
- She wanted to kick back with her friends and just watch a couple of movies, so she picked a double-feature of The Avengers and Iron Man 3.
- Instead of ordering in pizza, she had me fetch shawarmas from Sunbake Pita for everyone, which I was only too happy to do. (If you don't get why this is awesomely thematic, the short video below will save you having to fast-forward through the credits.)
- Her gifts included a Harley Quinn figurine, Marvel mug, a tiny Swiss Army knife with randomly coloured buttons printed on it AND one of 4 custom screened Harry Potter t-shirt one of her friends made for the group of them.
- When I congratulated her the next morning on both the quality of her friends and a successful but low-key party, she wryly replied, "Ha, Loki," and once again it took me a second or two to catch on.
Best of all, they are no longer taking their cues from me, but picking up on their own nerdy things to love. Yesterday they finally got me to watch one of their favourite films of late, Pitch Perfect, a comedy about a college freshman who reluctantly joins an all-girl a capella group trying to rebuild its reputation. The main character is played by Anna Kendrick who I know primarily as Scott Pilgrim's sister, but even the coolest character in the group is still nerdy by the standards of the popular kids. There is a bit of a hierarchy of dorkiness they play with in the course of the story, but even the love interest gets teased for being a movie nerd. I was a little scared that I might be in for a musical rendition of Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, but I ended up having a much better time than I expected to. if it drifts across your transom, I highly recommend checking it out.
When one of the characters says, "I love you awesome nerds," I looked at my daughters and thought, I couldn't agree more.