Tag Archives: families

March Column Glo Magazine: Let’s annoy Dad!

bro5        Once upon a time, before weeklong day camps were established by every local organization, centered around every possible interest and available en masse throughout every school holiday, two paycheck families scrambled to find short-term care for their offspring wherever they could without expecting an enriching experience in return. Because Spring Break was a shorter recess than our Christmas or Summer Vacations, it was the one time of the year that my father used some of his paid-time-off so that he could spend some “quality time” with his kids.

Translation: Our regular sitter was unavailable and Mom couldn’t get the time off so Dad was stuck with us.

This arrangement was fine with my brother and me. In fact, it was perfect. If Spring Break happened to be warm and sunny, the two of us would hop on our bikes and head over to our friends’ houses for the day; something we couldn’t do when we had a babysitter. We’d give dad a vague notion of where we were going, he would pretend to hear us and we would make it home before 5 p.m. There was an unspoken understanding among us that if Mom got home before we did, we’d all be busted (Dad included) and no one wanted that to happen. However, if Spring Break proved to be cold, rainy or subject to a late-season snow, my brother and I resorted to Plan B; fallback diversion known as “Let’s Annoy Dad.”

Now don’t misunderstand me. My father was a wonderful and caring man who loved us very much, but he was Old School and took a hands-off approach to raising children. He prided himself on the fact that he only changed one dirty diaper per child. He was physically incapable of being around anyone who was sick because it triggered his gag reflex and he answered every question with a standard, “What did your mom say?”

A few days prior to Spring Break, my father would lay down some official ground rules about our time together. Number One: He was not going to entertain us all week. Number Two: He couldn’t cook so we were expected to make our own lunches and clean up after ourselves. Number Three: We were not to bother him if he was in his workshop, the bathroom, garage or Ham radio. (Note: he was always in one of these places.) Number Four: We knew the house rules better than he did, so we were not to get him in any trouble with Mom. And of course Rule Number Five: Don’t forget Rules 1-4.

With the rules in place, the object of “Let’s Annoy Dad” was to get him to do some fun things during Spring Break without breaching any of his commandments. It wasn’t easy. You had to catch him at the right time and balance the wheedling, coaxing and cajoling in order to convince him without pressing your advantage. The winner was the child or children that could talk dad into at least one trip to the bowling alley, park or video arcade and bonus points were awarded for scoring all three in a single week.

Despite my father’s supposed aversion to parent/child bonding, deep down I think he enjoyed “Let’s Annoy Dad” as much as we did. He got to be a kid again and I learned how to get to the fourth level of Ms. Pac-Man, bowl a strike and do a back flip off of the monkey bars. Sure I may have missed out on the educational aspect of a structured program, but I ended up with memories…and if you ask me, that’s priceless.

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Buy It, Borrow It, or Bag It: No Ordinary Sound by Denise Lewis Patrick

Melody   As a fan of the American Girl Series, I have heard rumors that this year, the company will be retiring it’s original historical girl of color Addy, and will be replacing her the new BeForever character Melody Ellison, whose story takes place in 1963-1964.

American Girl has taken a lot of criticism for its lack of diversity in their historic characters and seems to have hit-or-miss sales success with the two girls of color that they have released. It is my understanding that Addy, a nine-year-old who escapes slavery with her mother and makes a new life in the freedom of Philadelphia, was wildly successful but Cecile, the wealthy young lady from New Orleans was retired rather quickly due to poor sales. (Personally, I liked her but felt her story line could have been better rounded out more effectively.) However, I truly think Melody is going to be a big hit. There seems to be a push for American Girl to come up with not-so-distant historic characters that bring grandmothers, moms and daughters together and Melody fits the bill. She is from Detroit, centered in the crux of the civil rights movement and appropriately aged at a time in all young people’s lives when they are not quite as innocent as they once were, but not as cynical either.

Melody loves to sing, she believes in fairness and equality, and she has no trouble taking a stand for the things she believes in. I applaud the scene in which she quietly but firmly withdraws her money from the bank when the branch fails to give her older sister an interview due to her skin color. I think we live in a time when young people need to remember there is a time and a place in which we must take a loud stand in order to be heard as well as times when we can quietly and thoughtfully make a difference. No, Melody’s $10 probably won’t break the bank, but it’s all she has and in this scene, readers see the beginnings of her social conscience. What a wonderful thing to showcase.

Melody’s world is a balanced one. Faith is important to her family. There is plenty of love and the book highlights the best of the 60’s as well with the music and the fashion that will make for a fun read as well as a popular toy line when her doll and other products hit AG stores this summer. Fans of AG, we have another fabulous BeForever character in Melody. I have no problem singing her praises and telling you to Buy this book for your young reader!

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