I am a radical parent.

My wife and I are trying something radical in parenting. We’re spending some time¬†with our kids.

Okay, maybe it isn’t radical. In fact, it is probably the definition of parenting, but it is something that can be a challenge when your schedule is full of projects and work and household chores and hobbies and such. To make sure that we spend time with our kids, we’re scheduling it.

Wednesday nights after dinner are now reserved for 1-on-1 parent/daughter time until bedtime. My wife takes one daughter to the kitchen where she gets to don a special hat, apron, and oven mitt while I take the other daughter to the basement for some video games or Lego playtime. We all get to do something that we like–spend time with our kids and enjoy some personal interests–and our kids get some personal attention. And each week, we switch daughters.

I know, it probably sounds like a no-brainer, but being intentional about any activity, including fun ones, takes dedication. We’ve had one of these Wednesday night 1-on-1 times so far, and it was a ton of fun. I really want them to continue, I’m hoping for a long time to come.

Here’s a few pictures from that first one.

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Do you have any suggestions for what we should call these nights? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Also, do you have ideas for kid-friendly/healthy recipes that we could use in the kitchen with our kids? Please share those too!

I am rethinking Cinderella.

This isn't Disney's Cinderella. This is the public domain Cinderella. Use your imagination.

This isn’t Disney’s Cinderella. This is the public domain Cinderella. Use your imagination.

I am slowly overcoming my aversion to Disney princesses. If I did not have super-girly daughters, this wouldn’t be a priority to me. But in spite of our best efforts, my wife and I got a couple of girls who love all things pink and sparkly.

That’s why I picked up the audio storybook for Disney’s Cinderella at the library over the weekend. And, wanting to be the best father I can, I listened to it with them.

I think I actually groaned when the story got to the part about Cinderella arriving at the prince’s ball. This is the bit of the story that I remembered and upon which my original negative feelings for the story as a whole are based.

The girl walks in and she’s beautiful, causing the prince to fall madly in love with her. They dance together but exchange no information about themselves (shouldn’t she have told him her name?), and he decides that he wants to marry her and no one else.

We were listening to the story in the car as we drove to the grocery store. At the arrival at the ball part, my wife said something incredibly insightful.

“Yeah,” she said sarcastically. “It’s a good thing that looks never fade.”

Now, maybe I should have realized this before, but the story isn’t about a stupid guy that bases major life decisions on appearances alone. Nor is it about how wishing really hard for something will cause that thing to come true (Bippity Boppity Boo!). It isn’t even about how important it is to wear impractical footwear (A glass slipper? Really?).This is a story about being the right kind of person when the appearances DO fade. After all, the main twist in the plot is that when the clock strikes midnight, the magic is over.

When we meet Cinderella, she is sweet, kind, hardworking, and she has a way with animals. When the fairy godmother comes along, all of these things are still true, they are just buried within a pumpkin carriage with mice for horses. Sure, the fancy dress got her into the door of the ball, but who she was got her the rest of the way there.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that this is a good story for children to base their lives upon, but I think I get it now. Wishing something was different doesn’t change anything, but being a hardworking sweetheart will make it easier for things to go your way when the chance arrives.

Was I the only one who took thirty years to pick up on this theme in Cinderella’s story?

10 Things for My Birthday List As Suggested By My 2 & 3 Year Old Daughters

daughters_a_and_b

  1. A swimsuit with a shirt that I could wear at the pool (As the only male of the house, I’m the only one that gets to go topless).
  2. A toy that has a funny ring and has a sippy cup with it and we could tug with it (like a dog toy).
  3. Bees.
  4. Heart-shaped Re-useable plastic ice cubes.
  5. A cool toy that says “Woo! I’m a robot!” and is also a backpack.
  6. A beach ball that doesn’t leak air with an American flag on it.
  7. Water.
  8. A table with funny red legs that walks around.
  9. A mailbox with funny red legs with a cup (funny) in it.
  10. Candy to eat on Christmas.

I’m pretty sure that they were just looking around and saying things that they saw, but whatever. I’ve already been gifted by being a dad, so it doesn’t really matter if they get me anything at all. In fact, I hope they do not get me bees.

(But I do kind of hope they get me the cool robot backpack thing. That sounds awesome.)