I’ve recently come to realize that my 8-year-old daughter think I’m an idiot.
I don’t know how it happened. It feels like a recent development in the past eight months or so. When she was a toddler, I spend a substantial amount of time establishing myself as World’s Smartest Daddy. When she had questions about stuff, I was on. I had my answers ready, and she bought it every time. Daddy, why is the sky blue? (Because of gases.) Where does snow come from? (Clouds.) How do bugs kiss? (They have very tiny lips.) What happens if you plug your nose and mouth when you sneeze (Eyeball blow-out.) Daddy knew everything, and his wisdom was accepted without question.
But things have changed. The kid just doesn’t trust my knowledge base anymore. About. Any. Thing.
Like when we recently drove to the grocery store:
Her: Daddy, do you know where you’re going?
Me: Yes, of course I do.
Her: I don’t think you do.
Me: Riley, I’ve driven us to the store a thousand times.
Her: But this isn’t our old store. This is a new store. You haven’t been here before.
Me: Actually I have been to this store before.
Me: What, you want like a specific date or something? It was a while ago. I know where I’m going. The store is eight blocks from our house. I promise to get us there without accidentally driving us to Egypt, or over a cliff or anything.
(She is silent for approximately one block.)
Her: I think we’re lost. You should call Mommy.
More proof? How about when she finishes her math homework, needs someone to check it over, and I kindly offer my services:
Her: I think I’ll wait for Mommy to get home and check it.
Me: Kiddo, I can check your math. I’ve actually been doing math myself for years.
Her: I know. But um… this is multiplication.
Me: Princess Face, I can check it. Multiplication is actually the kind of math I’m best at. I’ve won awards for my multiplication skills.
Her: Well……… I’ll just wait for Mommy to get home.
Me: Give me the damn math book.
I don’t know what this is about. I mean, her Mom has the big-time smarts, it’s true. She has many intellectual gifts. I’d trust the woman to check my own math — and frequently do. But hey — Dad’s no slouch over here!
Is it a trust issue? Does she not have faith that her dear ol’ dad can give her accurate information or, on a deeper level, take care of her and actually keep her alive? Despite my perfect track record so far? Or is this the result of socialized gender programming? After all, dads on TV tend to be bumbling morons, even today. (I’m lookin’ at you, Modern Family.) Even though my daughter doesn’t watch primetime television, is she somehow getting that media message telepathically? That Dad is pretty much a walking, talking doofus with the intelligence of a doorstop?
No. It’s too early. She’s eight, dammit. I refuse to become Clark Griswold until she’s at least a teenager.
I’m going to have to do something about this. I don’t know what, but something intelligent and groundbreaking. Prove a new theorem. Cure a disease. Invent an alternative fuel source. Anything to prove to my daughter that I do so know things. Don’t tell me it’s too late. Don’t tell me that all the work I did establishing myself as World’s Smartest Daddy when she was a toddler was all in vain. Otherwise there will be more nights like this one, when my wife had to work late and I was making the kid dinner:
Her: What are you making?
Me: Hot dogs.
Her: Do you know how to make them?
Me: You mean, do I know how to stick a hot dog in the microwave for twenty seconds and then put it in a bun, the way your mother does? Yes. Yes I do.
Her: It doesn’t smell right.
Me: It. Smells. Fine.
Her: Maybe you should look up how to do it on the Internet.
Me: Maybe later. Go wash up.
Her: (looking vaguely around the kitchen) What else are we having?
Me: Carrot sticks and applesauce and YES I KNOW HOW TO MAKE THOSE TOO BECAUSE THE CARROT STICKS ARE PRE-CUT AND THE APPLESAUCE IS ALREADY IN A LITTLE CUP AND ALL I HAVE TO DO IS PULL OFF THE TIN FOIL TOP AND PUT IT NEXT TO YOUR PLATE BECAUSE I AM NOT CLUELESS AND DOYOUHAVEANYMOREQUESTIONSSWEETHEART?
Her: Geez, Daddy. Why are you so cranky? I was just asking.
Me: (trying to get my breathing back under control and my forehead vein to stop throbbing)
Her: That’s not the kind of applesauce Mommy gives me.
You can read more about my adventures in idiocy at The Didactic Pirate.