A Girl and her Dad

I started a tradition years ago of spending one day a year with The Boy where he got to call the shots. Whatever he wanted to do, we did. This usually involved going to the movies, Chuck E. Cheese’s, an arcade, a toy store, a gaming specialty shop, whatever. (These days, it involves going to the shooting range and knife store.)

I naturally carried it forward with The Flower (and will with The Barbarienne, when she’s old enough) and yesterday was her day. It’s a little different with a girl, I learned. First of all, for part of her day, she wants The Boy to come with her. She likes to go to the movies, but she wants to have grandpa along.

And when I’d take The Boy to a store, he’d pick out five or six action figures that were really cool, and then agonize over which he wanted. I’d never placed a limit on him, mind you. It was just his mindset to check prices and weigh his perceived value against them. I’d have to convince him it was okay to get two or three toys. (And sometimes, I couldn’t, if he felt something was priced too high.)

The Flower, meanwhile, would blithely hand me everything she liked from every store that caught her eye. She had found out, possibly through Disney-inspired necromancy, that there was a store called Build-A-Bear. Our first trip there cost us $20 for a bear, and $180 in accessories.

This year was a little different. The Flower loves to be treated, but she also worries that she’s being spoiled. I’ve tried to explain to her that you can’t really spoil someone by giving them things. (That’s a common misconception.) And in any event, you couldn’t really spoil The Flower without some serious effort: Generosity is in a prominent part of her nature.

We started out our day with breakfast at Denny’s. The Flower loves Denny’s. And I guess I shouldn’t complain, since it’s cheap. But it usually gives me a vaguely uneasy feeling: Not quite heartburn, but the sense that I’ve consumed something I really shouldn’t have. I’ve always figured they use some sort of Pam-like spray on butter substitute that disagreed with me. I’m off meat at the moment, though, and breakfast did not leave me with that feeling.

Then it was miniature golf. We tried doing that last year, but the place shut down because of a little sprinkle. But this year we got in a game, with our biggest problem being smacking the balls into the numerous water traps. The Flower was very good at fishing them out. (The Boy’s first–and only–game was hilarious: He had decided that it wasn’t so much the number of strokes that was important, but the speed at which you progressed through the holes. We literally had to run to keep up with him.)

Then off to the movies with The Boy and grandpa.

The Boy stayed with us for Chuck E. Cheese. The Rat is an interesting phenomenon. (Did you know it was the brain child of Nolan Bushnell, the man behind Pong and Atari?) Over the years, The Rat’s Place has gone from being filled with fun, but hard to clean and non-profit generating activities (no more ball pits, and few habitrails) to being largely pseudo-gambling games that encourage you to pump in tokens as fast as possible. Most of the games are designed to eliminate any skill, of course.

Meh. Skee-ball’s still one token and nine balls.

What’s sort of ironic is that while the pizza is definitely aimed to challenge the “no such thing as bad pizza crowd”, the salad bar is very fresh. I find that sort of amusing since the salad bar craze of the ‘80s has vanished so thoroughly that you can hardly find a good one, even in restaurants that used to be salad bar oriented.

Then it was off to the mall. Build-A-Bear is quite affordable, as long as you just get the bears. They advertise quite prominently that you can get a $10 bear. The accessories are, individually, inexpensive seeming: $3.50 for underwear (yeah, bear underwear) or a pair of glasses, $5 for a pair of pants. A complete outfit makes your $10 bear cost $40 or more, assuming you stick with the cheap stuff.

The Flower has come to realize that most of the accessories get quickly lost anyway, so she was more than happy when I told her she could get two, as long as she didn’t dress them. She got a bear (her fourth) and a unicorn, and we spent the same or less than anyone else in the store.

We went by the Disney store to get a few more things, including some gifts for her mother and baby sister. (The Barb shares a room with The Flower and is quite at a loss to understand that big sis has more stuff just because she’s been around longer, and the stuff is cooler because she’s older.)

Then a late dinner at Denny’s. The veggie burger was actually pretty good, surprisingly enough. The Flower ordered hot dogs, and then a big slice of cake. She didn’t eat much of either.

Finally home to share all our conquests with everyone.

All-in-all, a successful day. I wish I had more of them.

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