14 November 2013

An Open Letter to Peter Rabbit

Dear Peter,

So, my 1-year-old son is obsessed with you. Obsessed. And it’s starting to worry me. Plain and simple, I do not think that you are a good role model. I know watching you calms him down enough so that we can keep him from wiggling around for 30 seconds to clip all his toenails and fingernails. I suppose that’s worth something. But I definitely worry about the “lessons” that you’re imparting to him.

I’m worried he’s starting to think he is a rabbit himself. God help us when he chooses to act on this impulse by smack-talking a fox or a badger out in the woods. That’s not going to end well for anybody.

What kind of lifestyle choices are these? How many close-calls and near-misses do you think you can really have before a pitchfork-wielding human, a crafty fox, or a giant badger gets the better of you? How long do you think you can keep this going? All you do is thieve and antagonize larger, meaner creatures. Every day, all day. What kind of plan is this? Where’s the future in this?

Where are you headed?

Which begs the question, why aren’t you in school? Your “community” seems to have all the other trappings of civilization. But not once have I seen you in a school. What gives?

Also, why do you wear a coat but no pants? This I really don’t understand. Is this why my kid loves to run around naked? How are you not freezing all the time?

According to your origin story, your father was caught by Mr. McGregor and baked into a pie. Have you gleaned absolutely nothing from this history? Have you heard the phrase “history repeats itself”?

My main concern is that my son won’t be able to separate your adventures from reality. What you’re doing is providing entertainment. Which is fine, I suppose. But you also appear alongside Dora and Diego and those kids from Team Umizoomi which gives the mistaken impression that you’re providing some educational benefit. But I really don’t see much call in my son’s future for mocking woodland creatures and stealing vegetables from someone else’s garden.

By the way, you spend so much time in that garden, have you not picked up even a rudimentary understanding of how to grow your own crops? Is this a side effect of not being in school? Are you learning impaired? Or just averse?

And don’t even get me started on poor Benjamin. That kid will follow you anywhere in completely blind adoration. But here’s the thing: he’s not nearly as clever you are. One of these days you are going to get him killed. Do you want that blood on your hands? Do you?

You even bring danger right to your door sometimes. Do you ever think about the consequences of your actions? You have a family to think about. Your mother, your sisters, do you ever think about them when you’re out in the world causing mischief? Are they just collateral?

In conclusion, thank you for keeping my son’s attention occupied for 23-minute stretches so his mother and I can think about something else for a moment, check Facebook, doze off, drink wine. But seriously, would it hurt to do something else than steal? To think about someone besides yourself? Maybe you could go to school someday. Or plant your own garden. Hell, I’d settle for just one episode where you decide to wear a pair of pants. That would be a nice change of pace.

A Concerned Parent

(I’ll be watching you. Literally. Because this kid will have a complete meltdown if we don’t.)

07 November 2013

Family Cosplay

Ever since we’ve had two kids, the wife and I have wanted to do a group Halloween costume. My vote has always been for the Beatles, skinny ties and mop-top wigs. (Little Brother would obviously be Ringo.) But she was never keen on the idea.

And the last two years, we went to an event at the Detroit Zoo, the annual Zoo Boo, with my wife’s cousin. She and her husband and their two little girls have always dressed in matching costumes. We hadn’t heard rumors to the contrary this year and so we decided we had to step it up. To be better parents, we had to do a foursome of costumes.

But what would it be? The Avengers? Seeing Little Brother in a long blonde wig was tempting. The Incredibles? We’re lacking a Violet. And it would be weird to go as Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash, and Little Jack-Jack. He doesn’t even do anything until the last two minutes of the movie.

For a minute, the Doozer wanted to be Boba Fett. So we thought about other characters we could realistically be. But Yoda, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and Boba Fett just seemed like too random of an assortment. At one point, I suggested that we could all paint our faces yellow and be Lego minifigures. I still stand by this is a brilliant idea, even if he didn’t go for it.

Then we hit upon the idea: We had a dragon costume from when the Doozer was 2. He and Little Brother love playing with a castle set. What if the Doozer was a knight, Little Brother was the dragon, and we went as a king and a queen? Great. Perfect. Set. Only the Doozer had a slightly different idea.

In his version of “playing” with his castle, a toy parrot guards the fortress. He wanted to be a parrot guard, which somehow involved dressing as a parrot that is dressed as a knight. Maybe.

This was not going to happen. Not that we want to quash his imaginative spirit, not at all. It’s just, one costume is expensive enough, let alone two. Then the physics of trying to mash them together into one costume? And seriously, who has the time to sew? I feel like our generation got a lot of handmade, homemade costumes. But seriously, when did they have the time?

Finally, he was convinced to be a knight. And loved his knight costume. And forgot all about that parrot business. Although I do think he occasionally squawked while sporting that fake chain mail get-up. But I can’t be certain.

In the end, though, it didn’t matter. Because we showed up at the zoo and found that our compatriots were not donning a four-person costume this year. It was just us. Yeah, we were sold out by fellow parents. Come on, man, we’re supposed to be on the same team. 

And so now we’re walking around the zoo looking like idiots. (Even if our own kid still enjoyed this whole coordinating costumes enterprise.) My “crown” looked more like that funny hat the pope wears, but the cape and scepter seemed somewhat royal. I suppose. (Okay, I’ll admit it, carrying a scepter is pretty good.) One of the zoo employees told me I looked like a character from an old TV commercial about butter or margarine. I vaguely remembered it from my childhood.

Thanks, old-timer.

Of course, there was still actual Halloween. Which is weird. I didn’t get multiple Halloweens as a kid. What spoiled brats. That night, it rained. So not only did we have goofy costumes on, but we got drenched. Now we have soggy, goofy costumes. And cherished memories. I guess.

Although, I have one piece of advice for parents thinking of taking a 1-year-old out trick-or-treating:


(Of course, your experience could be better than ours. I suppose anything is possible.)