Friday, December 23, 2005

#101 - Iwannadoit, Daddy!

It's interesting to see how each of my kids implements "iwannadoit" in their lives. My two older children are both on their own now, having entered the "ihaftadoit" phase of life. You want the money? You hafta go to work. Want your little girl to do well in school? You hafta get involved. The Woodyettes, on the other hand, are still in the early stages. "Daddy... I wanna wrap the present all by myself!"

They never speak this below a mild shout. With kids everything is important and everything is accentuated with exclamation points. "I wanna help you load the dishwasher!" "I wanna read a book!" "I hafta go potty!" "No one will play with me!"

It really is the only way they know how to communicate.

Yesterday, when Mrs. Woody was out of the house for a few hours and I had my golden chance to do my Christmas wrapping, Doodle Woodyette instantly appeared at my feet asking to assist. "I wanna help you wrap, Daddy!"

Oooookay. I'm under the weather this week, and the idea of teaching a small child how to wrap (differently, no doubt, from the way Mommy taught her just the other night) is not my idea of fun. The art of allowing a child to do complex tasks all by themselves is a tricky one. They're not quite old enough yet for Daddy to simply hand over paper, tape, and scissors and expect them to do even a passable job on a relatively simple box present. No, they need "guidance." And when "guidance" becomes "hovering," the kids will let you know.

"Daddy! I wanna do that by. my. self!"

Oops! Sorry!

So Daddy treads through the murky waters of helping them understand just how much paper is really required for the job, knowing exactly where to cut, dealing with the tape dispenser (this is a huge deal for six year old fingers), and, most importantly, how to fold the ends of the package into tight, neat corners. Daddy spends much of his time surreptitiously folding creases in strategic places while Doodle tries to get her fingers to follow her uncertain commands. Eventually we get there. It's a Christmas present! I wrapped it all by myself! Mommy will have no idea that I wrapped it! (Unless, of course, Mommy actually looks at it. We don't mention this to the Woodyettes.)

Jelly Woodyette wants to wrap, too, but she isn't as emotionally invested in it as the Doodle is. She's a couple of years older now, and while she still likes hands-on work, her highly active imagination requires that she spend as little time as possible on any given task. So she helps, too, but as soon as her package is under the tree she flits off to her next adventure. Doodle, on the other hand, wishes to continue. "Can I help with the next one, Daddy? Pleeeeeeze??"

Thus it is that, this year, Daddy's wrapping jobs will look suspiciously like Doodle's work, and that will be at least half-true. Then, finally, Daddy hits the "secret" stuff. Sorry, Doodle, you can't witness this part. The blow to her "iwannadoit" was devastating. Tears welled up instantly in her little eyes and for a split second Daddy felt like a heel. I almost reneged, until I remembered that to reveal why these small packages were labelled "From: SomeoneWhoIsNotDaddy" (if you get my drift) would require revealing other secrets that they're not quite ready for. Not yet.

I must tell you that Doodle recovered quickly. She got involved in Jelly's imaginary adventures. Then, as it turned out, Mrs. Woody called from the Humongo-Mart parking lot with a dead alternator. So we all had an adventure getting the car to the shop and Mrs. Woody and her top-secret purchases home. The girls even went camping last night. All stories for another day.

Whenever I wannadoit.

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