Teaching The Important Stuff

Weevy finished up pre-K last week, and with it she completed three years of insanely expensive private school.  I hate to admit it, but it was really worth the money — she’s made new friends, learned how to socialize with kids her own age, started reading and writing (a little)… she’s turned into a real little human being, thanks in large part to the amazing and nurturing teachers she’s had.  Hell, she knows more about the rainforest and the ocean than my wife and I do.  Not that we’re experts or anything, but that’s still pretty cool.

Of course, there’s plenty of important stuff that school hasn’t taught her, and that’s where I come in.  It’s inevitable, of course.  We spend enough time together, after all, so some of my passions and habits and idiosyncrasies are bound to rub off on the kid.  And personally, I think these things are as important as anything she’ll learn in school.

Like hailing a cab, for instance.  I never liked the whole “stand in the street with your hand up until a free taxi comes along” move.  I think it looks silly, and if you’re standing in the rain in rush hour, your arm is bound to get tired.  No, I peer out into the distance from my vantage point of a couple steps (OK, sometimes several steps) off the curb, looking for that little speck of light on top of a yellow car that means “available cab.”  I hold Weevy while I’m doing this, of course, and she’s not only gotten pretty good at spotting cabs, she’s an ace cab hailer, with an elegant, fluid hand-raising motion that most kids her age could only dream of having.  Of course, with Uber ascendant, she may not need this particular skill when she’s older, but it’s better to have it than not.

I’m particularly proud of her ordering skills in restaurants.  The wife and I usually have to prompt her, and occasionally we have to remind her to say “thank you,” but for not quite five years old, she’s damn good at ordering her own food.  It usually goes like this:

“Can I please have chicken nuggets?  And can I have a Shirley Temple please?  With no cherries.”

I mean, if you’re a waiter and you don’t find that fucking charming as hell, you’ve been on too many auditions with too few callbacks lately.  This is a skill she’s going to need for the rest of her life, and she’s already mastered it.  I am a proud papa.

Most importantly, I think, she’s finally getting into pop music.  Now, listening to your favorite Top 40 songs (and watching the videos on YouTube) is not a skill per se, of course.  But it’s an invaluable social skill that will serve her well at least through adolescence.  I mean, the music you like says a lot about who you are, and in those all-important tweener and teen years, how better to declare “this is who I am” than by allegiance to your favorite musical artist?

Weevy’s big thing the last few days has been to do a round robin dance party of sorts, where she, the wife and I all take turns picking songs to listen and dance to.  She’s pretty big on Katy Perry, whose music has always left me cold.  But the missus sums it up pretty succinctly — “Empowerment for sale.”  So who am I to deny the message of songs like “Roar” and “Firework,” whether or not I like the music?  Her favorites are generally songs she’s heard in music class at school, but every now and then the wife and I play her something she gloms on to.  A current favorite of mine that’s became a favorite of hers is “I Really Like You,” by teenybopper chanteuse Carly Rae Jepsen.  The chorus:  “I really really really really really really like you, and I want you, do you want me?  Do you want me too?”  Shakespeare it ain’t, but it’s catchy as hell.

I have a terrible tendency to mishear lyrics, and I’ve passed that on to Weevy as well.  “Uptown Funk,” a current hit by Bruno Mars, features a line, repeated several times, that sounded to me like “If you don’t believe me, just wipe.”  Weevy and I heard it every day at our local ice cream shop for a few weeks, and I totally had her convinced that’s what he was saying, too.  Even when her mother told us what he was really saying, Weevy refused to believe her.  I like my interpretation better, anyway.

It always kills me when she asks me if I know a song that she’s heard in her travels as a four-year-old.  She’ll describe it to me as best she can, until I either figure out what she’s talking about or I can find it on YouTube.  As a record store owner, I did this sort of thing for a living, having to figure out songs from the barest of clues given to me by customers far less coherent than Weevy.  I’m a bit out of touch with the current music scene, but I’m trying to stretch the old muscles again and get back into fighting trim for her.  Today she introduced me to a new song (new for me, anyway) called “Crayon Box.”  Good stuff for the post-toddler set, I must say.