Chatting With Lexi: On Taylor Swift

sNDnYYZe_400x400I love riding in the car with Lexi because she’ll often say something unexpected, especially when I don’t think she’s paying attention. I should be used to it by now, but my firstborn still has a habit of surprising me. Last week I bought the new Taylor Swift album, and like a true #swifty I’ve had it on repeat at home and in my car. I knew all the song lyrics by Day 2, so I was singing along on this particular ride. Lexi was in the back, head buried in her book, but apparently she can multi-task because she looked up and said:

“Dad, is Taylor Swift married?”

“No, honey, she isn’t.”

“Oh, good. Because I was thinking all these lyrics would be strange if she was married.”

“What do you mean, Lex?”

“Well, I mean she’s talking about being up in the club talking to boys and stuff, and I was thinking if she was married that wouldn’t be a good thing.”

“You’re right, Lex. But she’s in her 20’s, and many young people these days do what’s called dating around.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means she goes out with a boy on dates, and that’s how they figure out if they want to take their relationship further.”

“So she goes around with him? Is that why it’s called dating around?”

“Um, no. It’s because she’s dated a lot of guys that way, to see if it works out, but it hasn’t, not to this point anyway.”

“That’s why so many of her songs sound like she’s sad?”

“You got that right. Or upset. Think about ‘Shake It Off.'”

“Oh yeah. [Singing] ‘I go on too many dates. But I can’t make ’em stay.'”

“She’s talking about ‘haters’ saying she dates a lot but no one seems to want to settle down with her, to get married or something like that.”

“Dad, do you think she wants to get married?”

“Probably. Someday. But right now I think she’d just like to have a long term relationship and see where it goes from there.”

“It must be hard to be famous. People talk about everything you do, and everywhere you go, and everyone you do stuff with.”

“Absolutely. I wouldn’t want to be famous. Well, not that way anyway. I would want to be ‘book famous.'”

“What does book famous mean?”

“It means I would love for everyone to want and buy my books, so my books would be famous, but I could still go and do things without people trying to take my picture.”

“I don’t like people taking my picture either.”

“I guess I just value my privacy, and when you’re someone like Taylor Swift you really don’t have any privacy.”

“Is that maybe why some of these boys don’t want to date her anymore? Because they want their privacy back?”

“Wow, Lex, that sounds like it might be a reason. I think one of them was a musician and he was jealous of her popularity so he broke up with her. Jealousy is never good.”

“Yeah, I read about it in my books all the time. It never leads to anything good.”

“You got that right. You should be happy for other people and the praise and attention they get, not upset because you don’t have that praise and attention.”

“It must be hard to be Taylor Swift.”

“I imagine it would be. But at least she gets to do what she loves.”

“Date around?”

“No. Well, yes, but that’s not what I meant. I meant she gets to write her music, to sing her songs, and to perform in front of audiences all around the world.”

“That’s cool too. Rainbow Dash can do a Sonic Rainboom.”




Chatting With Lexi: On Fears

we-all-fear-the-unknownFor a child who is remarkably self-assured it’s curious that Lexi also has a plethora of fears, ranging far and wide (and even into some territory where I just scratch my head and wonder “Huh?”) for better or for worse. Of course, though, she has no fear of strangers, and will indeed tell them her life story if given a chance in the line at Wal-Mart. She also isn’t afraid of failure, even though in many ways she’s a perfectionist. But the things she fears she REALLY fears. It’s like she freezes solid when the subjects even come up.

And it’s at those moments that she reminds me of… me.

Me: Lexi, I need you to go upstairs to put away the toys you got out.

Lexi: But Dad, I CAN’T GO UP THERE.

Me: Why not? It’s just for a minute to put those toys away.

Lexi: But I’m SCARED.

Me: There’s nothing to be scared of. Your mother and I are right down here.

Lexi: But I’m still SCARED. I don’t want to go up there.

Me: Well, you got out the toys, so you need to put them away. You’re going to have to go up there anyway.

Lexi: I can’t do it. I JUST CAN’T.

Me: What are you afraid of, though? Why are you so scared to go up there by yourself?

Lexi: Because she’s up there.

Me: Who?

Lexi: The gh-gh-ghost.

Me: Oh my. Lexi, ghosts aren’t real.

Lexi: You don’t know that!

Me: Uh, yeah, I know that. Ghosts aren’t real. And even if they were they can’t hurt you.

Lexi: That’s not what they say on Teen Titans. Continue reading “Chatting With Lexi: On Fears”

The Daddy and Maddie Show

I spent the better part of the day with a sweet little girl who kept asking me where her sister was, and I kept responding, “She’s with Grandmom.” She told me that was okay, and yet ten minutes later she would ask again. Then I started to wonder if she wasn’t just telling me “sissy” because she was joking with me. So the next time she asked about her sister I asked her the same question in return. She said, “Grandmom,” and smiled the widest smile I had ever seen. She had been joking with me, so I smiled back and tickled her.

But those times are rare, the two of us sharing a private joke, because her sister is usually there interrupting with an anecdote, or a My Little Pony quiz (“What does Fluttershy look like?”). I’m so used to those interruptions that I think I honestly build in pauses when I speak now. But today there were no pauses necessary. Just me and the littlest McManus. It was an honest-to-goodness Daddy and Maddie show.

I used to pick Maddie up from pre-K most days for the past three years, and it is a time I will always treasure because it gave us a chance to have our own routine apart from Mommy, or from Sissy. We hadn’t really had those opportunities before she started school, and the time quickly became special to me, and yes, definitely a routine as well. That half an hour every day became known to me as the Daddy and Maddie show, starring a middle-aged man and his adorable three-year old, then four-year old, then five-year old.

And that time is over now, but I can use it as an excuse to find other times, other Daddy and Maddie opportunities, like today, with just the two of us. Her sister was making her way down to Philadelphia with Grandmom, and my wife was working a rare evening, so it gave me and Maddie a chance to put on another show. We went to the backyard so she could use the pool, and she even let me help get her into her life vest. We played the Ladybug Game, and she won, of course. She even helped me fold and put away the laundry.

All in all it was an amazing show, just the two of us spending time together. At the end of the night it was time for me to tuck her in. She got herself under the covers, and I asked her before I left, “Do you want me to turn on the nightlight or leave it off?” Her response was to leave it off, so I did, and I told her good night. About five minutes later I heard talking from the direction of her room, so I went to see what was going on. She was sitting up in bed and saying, “Light on.” So I turned it on, she said thank you, and tucked herself back in. “Night,” she told me, and I smiled.

What a great show. After all, It’s my favorite program.


Chatting With Lexi: On Being a Grown Up

quotes-about-friends-growing-upSometimes I swear I’m talking to a 20-year old when I have conversations with my daughter (who will turn eight in less than two weeks). She honestly says some things that are beyond her years. And then she’ll let out a whoop and swear the aliens are coming in the near future. I try my best to reconcile the fact that this is the same person. Regardless, today we had one of those really good talks, this time about growing up…

Lexi: When will I be a grown up?

Me: When you don’t have to ask me that question anymore.

Lexi: Huh?

Me: Never mind.

Lexi: No, tell me!

Me: What I’m trying to say is that you’ll know it. No need to try and speed it up.

Lexi: But I want to be grown up now!

Me: Don’t rush it. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Lexi: When I’m an adult I can have my own daughters and give them money.

Me: Are you asking me for money?

Lexi: [laughing] Well, there is this one doll I want…

Me: You don’t even play with dolls.

Lexi: I would play with THIS doll. Continue reading “Chatting With Lexi: On Being a Grown Up”

Chatting With Lexi: On Love

thMy daughter, Lexi, is the epitome of the inquisitive child. From the moment she learned how to speak (her first word was “book”) she has been asking questions seemingly nonstop, and her questions make me think. Sometimes I’m able to answer them easily, (“Daddy, what’s a touchdown?”), and other times I’m stumped, (“Daddy, who makes the eyes for stuffed animals?”), but I’m never bored with her. Believe me. Some times it drives me crazy, I’ll admit, because for every answer there’s another question, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s what makes her special, and what makes her my daughter.

This week we had a conversation about love:

Lexi: Daddy, what’s love?

Me: Well, love is when you care about somebody a whole lot.

Lexi: But I love the cats.

Me: Um, animals count too.

Lexi: But animals aren’t people.

Me: It’s okay. If you care about anything a whole lot you can love it, or them.

Lexi: I thought love had to be something that can be returned to you.

Me: What do you mean?

Lexi: Like, I love you, so you love me too.

Me: You know I don’t love you because you love me, right?

Lexi: So, if I didn’t love you, you would still love me? Continue reading “Chatting With Lexi: On Love”

A Father and Daughter Conversation: Of Magic and Spirit

th“That’s the thing with magic. You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.” -Charles de Lint

This afternoon my seven-year old asked me why we celebrate Hanukkah, and I explained to her the miracle of the oil and the lights. She was fascinated by the story and asked me what allows miracles to happen, what the force is that compels wild things to occur and make us believe in the magic that can exist in the world. I explained to her that magic as we think of it is just illusion, all of which can be explained, but that true magic is when something unexplainable happens, when the fabric of the universe is unveiled and all its beauty spills out into our hands, but we don’t see where it comes from. It’s the magic of the oil, and the magic of the magi, and the magic of a larger than life human being with a love of giving gifts to children.

“Who is God?” she queried after I told her the story of why we honor the traditions of the Jewish faith.

“God is the reason everything happens,” I explained.

“So is God magic, since he brought about the miracle?” she asked, scrunching her face up like she was thinking hard.

“Yes, in a way, God is the ultimate magic. He creates something out of nothing,” I answered.

“Like the miracle of the oil?” she asked. She asks a lot of questions, but that’s okay. It’s how she learns.

“Exactly like the miracle of the oil,” I said, nodding my head.

“Well then, what about Christmas? Tell me that story,” she said. And I realized that I had never before truly talked to either one of my children about the real reason for the season. Continue reading “A Father and Daughter Conversation: Of Magic and Spirit”

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