This week in Parenthesis, Jim Griffioen shares his family's adventures and misadventures on a recent trip to Italy, a toy laptop brings Charlie Capen face to face with his technology addiction -- and more.
Jim Griffioen’s classical training, eye for whimsy and lively voice (can you tell we're fans over here?) are on prominent display in this Sweet Juniper post, about his family’s trip to Italy. Readers of the travelogue will meet a taxi driver who “appeared to have been born during the early reign of Marcus Aurelius,” tag along on an unfortunate family detour across a nude beach and see that the hand-crafted centurion costume Griffioen made for his son was put to good use (it received the thoroughly appropriate reaction of “Ave Cesare!” from a passing tourist) -- not to mention appreciate the blogger’s colorful vocabulary (keep an eye out for “prunish pensioners staring disapprovingly at anyone not dressed appropriately for confession” and the “humpbacked caldera of Vesuvius”).
How you play the game
Fans of People I Want To Punch In The Throat blogger Jen got the chance to hear from another member of the PIWTPITT family this week, when the oft-mentioned “Hubs” delivered a cameo essay. The subject? How his son’s soccer-team exploits briefly threatened to turn him into “THAT parent” -- “loud, obnoxious, screaming at their kid at the soccer field.” Admitting that his competitive side got the better of him at a recent match, he shares the horror he felt upon learning how much his son hated the experience of being screamed at from the sidelines (we shudder to think what his wife had to say on the subject). “Don't get me wrong, I think winning IS important,” dad writes. “[B]ut at 7 years old, having fun is important too.”
"The boneheadedness must stop"
When writing “friendly” advice to unintentionally insensitive outsiders, bloggers tend to adopt one of several distinct registers -- outright angry (how could someone ever say this?!), saintly and sympathetic (I understand where this is coming from, even though it really hurts) and everything in between. In this guest post on Kristen Howerton’s Rage Against The Minivan -- originally published more than eight years ago -- Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks delivers criticism that’s pointed but polite while breaking down some of the most troubling comments she’s endured as an adoptive mom (e.g. “You look like you could be her real mother” and “Oh, you had your baby the easy way”). While Howerton reports that Walrond is “not nearly as angry” today as she was at the time of writing, her words will likely still resonate for adoptive moms and dads -- and serve to educate all who interact with them.
Heather Spohr’s pictures of her daughter, Annie, are thoroughly endearing on their own. But when Annie herself steps in to provide a running commentary (in this case, for a series of photos taken during a day out at the park), the result is nothing short of delicious. Between Annie’s meticulously detailed narrations (“Mama, my mouth is open! I was saying, ‘Hi mama! Hi!’ And I was running back to you but then I stopped to talk”), healthy appreciation of her own sense of humor (“Mama, look! Annie is a big girl! She’s gonna pee-pee on the potty! She’s funny! HAHAHAHA! Annie! I’m funny!”) and straightforward sweetness (“Ohhhhh…. I gots princess hairs”), the result is a carnival of cute.
The babies who blog
How To Be A Dad’s Charlie Capen is telling his son the TV is broken. And he’ll probably be cutting down on his own electronic use, too. Why? Because he felt “alternately sick and intrigued” while watching his toddler, Finn, become enthralled with a toy laptop recently. Even though the device is really “nothing more than an oversized calculator with a digital readout,” Capen explains, its effect on Finn is uncannily like that of a real computer on Charlie -- which is why the whole experience hit so close to home. Whenever the machine caught Finn's attention, the little boy “would drop EVERYTHING in his hands and sprint back to it," dad writes, adding with evident distaste: “It was my mirror image. I felt like I was looking at my life, now, as a blogger…. Thank goodness I saw in him what I probably do all the time and ignore.”