Sunday, March 27, 2011

Games People Play

Avey learned the other day that we are the proud owners of Parker Brothers' Monopoly (we received it as a wedding gift, but have played it probably once since then). She became very excited at this new knowledge, and insisted that we bust it out and play. Kira has introduced her to Old Maid and Go Fish in weeks past, with intermittent expressed interest from the girl, but I think Avey was particularly excited for Monopoly because it's the game "all of the other reindeer" would not let Rudolf play. It seems the song piqued her interest as to why a quadruped would desire to play such a game, why the rest of his species would disallow such a thing, and how the game is playable with hooves in the first place.

In any case, we introduced the game to her. As games go, Monopoly is a bit on the complicated side for college graduates like us, so we were not sure how to explain the rules of play to a preschool-aged child. At the first engagement she disregarded instruction and instead decided that the game was played by talking about all of the shiny "tokens" and then looking at all of the pictures on the "Chance" and "Community Chest" cards, and asking the opponent what the pictures depicted. However, at next play, Kira decided she would introduce elements of play. Avey seems to have liked that, for when we played today she taught me how it works:
Here are a few of the rules as Avey plays it:
  • Avey gets all of the green property, because green is her favorite color.
  • Avey gets all of the houses, because they are green.
  • Avey may place houses on her property at any time.
  • Any time Avey rolls the dice she gets to pick money from the stack (you'll notice her spoils in the picture above).
  • Avey can put her opponent in jail at any time during the game (but she usually pretends to open the door immediately to expunge all charges and free the opponent).
  • Avey's token is always the bag of money; her opponent is always the thimble.
  • When Avey rolls the dice and there are too many dots, she may turn the dice to find a lower number of dots, at her discretion.
  • The relative value of the money is determined not by the numbers printed thereon, but by the color of the paper upon which they are printed; prettier colors are worth more than less pretty colors.
These are just a few of the rules to which I had to adapt to survive in the game. In fairness, however, she did allow me full access to the hotels, if only for the reason that they are not green.

*Click here for the real Games People Play.*

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why

Avey's been extremely curious for the past few weeks. This is evidenced by her favorite word lately: "why." It doesn't seem to matter what we're doing or where, she wants to know the purpose behind everything. For example, while reading a book with Kira the other day, Avey asked why there was a particular character drawn on the page, why he was dressed the way he was, why he had that particular facial expression, why he wasn't on the next page, and so on. If we try to plant her in front of a short show to keep her occupied for a few minutes, she will continue to barrage us with questions about the show, the characters' intentions, their choice of hairstyles, their accents, their choice of phrasing, etc. We try to answer, as we understand that she is attempting to put together the pieces of this puzzle that is life, but after several hours it can get exhausting.
We're sure that this is just a phase that all children go through around this age. I've found it disconcerting, however, to find that I often don't know the answers to her questions. She asked me last night why we call a particular fruit "apple." I had no idea, but she seemed satisfied with the answer that it is because they come from an "apple tree." While most of her questions have logical answers, such as why we take baths or why we sleep at night, some of her other questions have me wondering about things we take for granted. Why do I wear a tie to work? I guess somebody thought it looked nice a long time ago. Why do green lights mean "go?" I guess somebody decided so and we all agreed. Why do we have a white car? Because that's what color it is.

Even though her constant questioning of social norms can get annoying at times, I'm pretty sure that's the method most stand-up comedians use these days. She just needs a clever way to line them up. Maybe instead of just asking "why," we can work on getting her to say, "What's the deal with..." That would at least be pretty funny.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Such Sweet Sorrow

Today I came home from work to find our fish, Jeffery, lying lifeless on the pebbles of his bowl. I always thought dead fish float, but what're you going to do? We had him about a year and a half; he survived a move, several days staying with my siblings, two sometimes pushy frog neighbors, and a rough bacterial infection that nearly took an eye. Here are some other highlights of Jeffery's life:
  • Circa January 22, 2008: successfully hatches from egg and attends his first family reunion in the same day - to this day he does not remember all of his siblings' names
  • February 1, 2008: makes no attempt whatsoever to potty train
  • February 14, 2008: frightens off another male - the betta fish version of sending a female a valentine
  • March 23, 2008: scrapes knee during horseplay and learns valuable lesson
  • June 30, 2008: sentence of solitary confinement is transferred to pet store
  • August 13, 2008: hired as decoration for human wedding - paid in workspace and pellets
  • August 15, 2008: announces retirement from decoration business
  • August 20, 2008: moves in with Ricks family
  • August 28, 2008: acquires roommate - African Dwarf Frog named "Ursula"
  • September 9, 2008: quickly learning the tricks of a roommate, Jeffery steals Ursula's food
  • October 31, 2008: dresses as "fish" for Halloween
  • December 12, 2008: sets personal record for biggest bubble nest
  • March 2, 2009: swims around bowl counter-clockwise, just for a change
  • August 20, 2009: celebrates 1 year with the Ricks' by binging on bloodworms
  • January 20, 2010: marks 1000th successful voyage to other side of decorative flower
  • September 25, 2010: survives Ricks' move - slight change of scenery outside of bowl
  • October 21, 2010: comes down with bacterial infection
  • November1, 2010: recovers from infection, realizes frailty of life
  • November 4, 2010: disturbed to learn that so-called Ursula was really a dude - gains a female African Dwarf Frog roommate
  • February 28, 2011: completes memoirs
  • March 14, 2011: peacefully passes to the next world, is honored in traditional flushing ceremony
You know, maybe my life isn't so depressing after all.

Avey actually cried when she learned of Jeffery's death. It lasted about 3 minutes, and then I asked if she thought she would like another betta fish. She was ecstatic at that thought, and has already decided she wants a red one this time. Kind of makes me wonder how she'll mourn my death in 60-80 years; "Aww... that's so sad... Bowling anyone?"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Apples & Trees

Long before Avey was born I had decided that I wanted my daughter to be a musician. I had concluded that she would eventually play the harp and/or the cello. I never intended to be much of a helicopter parent, or one who pressures his kids to excel in areas where the kids have no particular interest, but on the other hand, I want my daughter to play the frickin' harp and/or cello. You can see the bind I'm in. So I was very pleased when a couple of days ago, Avey inquired as to whether or not we had any tubas in the house (inspired by the intro to VeggieTales, even though it's actually a Sousaphone). To her dismay, I had to break it to her that we were fresh out of tubas, but she became very excited to learn that I have a horn in F (a.k.a. "French horn") ready at a moment's notice:
Her first attempt to bring forth music sounded like a bellows working to stoke a fire - she is, after all, used to recorders and harmonicas making sound after simply blowing air (no offense to the woodwinders in the audience). I was pleased to find that, after a very brief lesson in the mechanics of brass instruments, she was able to produce a nice, solid tone. She was more thrilled than any of us, and has been practicing several times a day, even coaxing her mother and I to sing the theme song to VeggieTales as she drones out her single note over and over.
Even though the horn is in a different category than the harp or cello, I'm quite flattered that she likes the horn so much. Perhaps her passion is something I passed on to her - it is in her blood, after all. If she keeps up her interest and practice, she may follow in her daddy's footsteps. Let's just hope we don't find any tubas lying around to distract her from her destiny...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Physics

The other day, during dinner, Avey became interested in our jar of garlic powder. She started asking all sorts of questions about it; why it's brown, what the letters mean, what it tastes like, and so on. Eventually she asked why the powder moves inside when we move the jar. I explained the concept of gravity to her, describing how the invisible force pulls everything down all the time. I demonstrated it to her by tipping the jar over, and we witnessed how all the powder was pulled downward. She became excited at discovering a new toy, and asked, "Dad, can I do gravity?"
She had a fine time doing gravity for a while after that. It's kind of funny how pointing at something right under our noses can spark our interest in it.

It's been a bit of a rough week. Avey and Kira came down with what I had last week. That has mostly meant that Avey has been very cranky, with a very short fuse. My promotion finally kicked in this week also, meaning that I've been changing my job duties. That's been a bit complicated, but a good thing overall. Hopefully things will go a bit smoother this week.