So I’m giving Little Miss a bath the other night, part of our 90 minute ‘go to bed’ ritual which starts around 6:30pm and ends around 8. LM’s favorite game in the tub tends to be ‘make it talk’… where ‘it’ is any one of a number of creatures (ducks, fish, princesses – it doesn’t really matter). As we are deep into the princess phase she has been playing the role of Ariel in the bath lately… a natural place to find the mermaid princess, and a good use of her Disney bath toys. Lately LM has requested that I play the role of King Triton. We don’t own a King Triton doll, but LM is not above improvisation. She hands me a blond Cinderella toy and explains to me, “that’s King Triton, make him talk daddy.”
The first time we played this game about a month ago, I embraced the role and promptly bellowed out a kingly warning about the dangers of playing with humans. Unfortunately my deep kingly bellow scared the bejeebus out of LM and she burst into tears in the tub. Note to self – when playing the role of King Triton (via princess doll proxy), it’s best to adjust one’s volume so as not to bring the child audience immediately to tears. Anyways, we survived that initial hurdle in the King Triton performance and he’s now requested for regular showings in our bathtub. Tickets can be had at the box office in advance. No walkups please.
Our most recent showing had a new performance twist. Everything was going swell, “that’s King Triton, make him talk daddy.” … I’m prepared for this role now, (I’m fond of the method school) and can phase into character at will. While holding Cinderalla I declare in my best ruler of the oceans voice, “No daughter of mine will be consorting with Huuuumans!”. Normally LM has a canned response about how Ariel loves Eric (human prince – go watch The Little Mermaid six thousand times, it’ll all come together for you) and blah blah blah. Not tonight. Tonight, in her higher than a normal 3 year old fake princess voice she steadfastly replies, “Daddy, I’m sixteen years old now, and if I want to go out, you can’t stop me. You need to let me do things on my own!” ….
I proceeded to stammer some reply about how she had to stay in the sea with her own mer-people-kind or something, and she hit me with “You can’t tell people what to do forever Daddy. You have to let people do things on their own… and you shouldn’t get mad so easily, be nice.” Am I seriously having this conversation with my 3 year old? Through dolls no less? I really thought I had a good 8-9 years before we had this encounter. Now I’m living it in the bath tub with my 3 year old. When did this happen? And how much trouble am I in?
I can see a 14 year old LM sighing with exasperation at me, “I thought we covered this when I was three Daddy? You have to let people do things on their own. I’m a big girl. I’ll be home by 2am, don’t wait up.”… Perhaps a lot of trouble.
This is a fun little game in the bath tub, but LM is smarter than me. So I’m definitely being setup. It’s moments like that in the bath that make me marvel how fast kids grow up. When she’s pitching for her freedom at the age of three, it’s easy to lose sight of how little she is. Two days ago she told me she wanted to be an Astronaut. “Great,” I replied, “Why?”… “Because Astronauts get to drive the ship. They have an important job. They have to look out for aliens… and bears.” I’m glad somebody is looking out for aliens and bears. In that moment she was all of three again, and not a potential surly teenager demanding her freedom. Maybe I’ll become an astronaut. Aliens and bears might be easier to handle than two teen-age daughters.