Happy Birthday Hope

Last year, in a post for Hope’s second birthday, I mentioned she had a “halo of hair that would make Art Garfunkel jealous.”

Well, Hope is now three. Her hair is even crazier and she’s become an amazing little person. Last year, she could say a sentence or two and follow along in conversations. Now, she’s telling whole stories and picking up on every little thing The Civee or I say. And she’s a great big sister.

Here she is over the past 12 months. The Civee mentioned that I messed up, going side-to-side with the pictures instead of up and down. To which I reply, my blog, my rules.

Happy birthday, Hope!

Tell Me a Story

Hope is really into stories right now. I don’t mean storybooks (although she loves being read to) or fairy tales. Hope loves when The Civee or I tell her stories about things that happened to us.

Every time we drive past Riverside Hospital, she wants to hear about the time I broke my ankle (and thanks for bringing it up Hope, no it is not embarrassing all these years later). She loves the story of when The Civee sat on a pile of fire ants (I kind of like that one too). And she can almost go line-by-line about the time King Classic got hit by a home run at Yankee Stadium.

It’s great that she’s so interested in our lives. But there are times when she wants to hear the same story over and over. And I’m not only talking about night after night. I mean she wants to hear the same story again right after we’ve told it. And it’s not a stalling tactic to delay bed. She’ll ask to hear stories at dinner time, or on the way to the store.

But The Civee pointed out to me a while ago that this isn’t a bad thing. There was an article in the New York Times explaining that telling kids stories about people in their family gives them perspective about their family.

Decades of research have shown that most happy families communicate effectively. But talking doesn’t mean simply “talking through problems,” as important as that is. Talking also means telling a positive story about yourselves. When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.

So telling and re-telling these (and other) stories is a good thing. And with some luck, generations of Chansky children will be able to tell the tale of when King Classic got hit by a home run at Yankee Stadium.

The Most Dangerous Children’s Book Ever

Darth Vader and SonEarlier tonight, Hope asked me to read her a book, a request I always grant. She had the book in the picture to the right, saying “Daddy, that’s Darth Vader.” I wanted to continue the conversation so I pointed to the other figure on the cover, asking her if she knew who it was.

When she answered in the negative, I said “that’s Darth Vader’s little b….”

And then I realized there is no way I can read “Darth Vader and Son” to my children. I would be a horrible father and person if I let my children even look at this book before watching any of the Star Wars saga.

So I finished my sentence.

“…buddy. Hey, let’s read something else.”

I immediately hid the book, vowing to myself to get it out of the house as soon as possible.

I’m glad that Hope and Luke have some exposure to Star Wars (something I think The Civee probably disagrees with me on). And I’m looking forward to watching the movies with them when they can understand and sit through something longer than an episode of Sesame Street. A few years ago I read an article online (which I can’t find) where the author suggested watching in a different order (4, 1, 2, 5, 3, 6 (even possibly cutting out Episode I)). So this is something I have put some thought into.

Star Wars and its characters are ubiquitous. I’m glad my children will have it around (again, The Civee may disagree here). There are a lot of great Star Wars-related toys and educational materials. And the book does have its moments. But what was the Lucasfilm licensing department thinking with this book?

I’d rather Luke and Hope play with Jar Jar and Ewok rock ’em sock ’em robots than be spoiled in this way.

So this book will disappear for a long, long time. And hopefully, by the time Hope and Luke get around to watching Star Wars, there will be some surprises left.

 

When Imaginary Friends Turn Into Imaginary Enemies

Over the past year, Hope has had a number of imaginary friends. But her imaginary friends are all real people. Not members of our immediate family, but friends or people from school who happen to tag along with us everywhere we go.

Hope has been fixating on one of her friends lately, a teacher from school she sees once a week. She will constantly tell us what the teacher is doing. The other day, however Hope shared something new. She came to dinner and said “I don’t like [imaginary friend] anymore. She hurt my feelings.”

At that point, I didn’t know what to think. Had the teacher done something to hurt Hope’s feelings? Was Hope just making this up? Am I ready to start dealing with my daughter’s hurt feelings?

If I had to guess, I would say the teacher did something as a teacher that Hope took the wrong way. To a point, to her, her feelings were hurt. We’ve been talking about feelings with her for a while. But I didn’t know she was aware feelings could be hurt.

I asked Hope about why her feelings were hurt, or what her friend did, but she wouldn’t elaborate. Still, I was ready to console and help her. I’m sure in the future, her feelings will be hurt for concrete reasons by real people. And it won’t get easier to hear or to deal with but it will be okay.

It’s a few days later and things are back to normal for Hope and her imaginary friend, which I guess is good. Hope hasn’t talked about her feelings being hurt. But then again, her imaginary friend is back to doing everything with us.

What Hope Wants for Christmas

One of Hope’s favorite books is Don’t Get a Gink, a story starring The Cat in the Hat as he tries to convince some kids looking for a pet to not pick the titular creature. The book never says why one shouldn’t get a Gink. Additionally, judging by his actions from his first book, I don’t trust the Cat in the Hat. So each time we finish the book, I tell her that I want a Gink. Lately, I’ve been telling Hope I want a Gink for Christmas, something she always protests.

Recently, we were getting Luke and Hope’s picture taken with Santa. Hope went up, sat in his lap and shouted out “My daddy wants a Gink for Christmas,” to which Santa politely asked her to repeat. But she continued her argument, saying “No! No Gink!”

I don’t know if she ever got to tell him what she wanted for herself. But in between laughing at the situation it felt nice that when she had the chance to speak with the big guy, she thought about me.

Have a great Christmas.

Hope and Luke with Santa

Hope’s Law

It’s taken more than a year, but a bill inspired by Hope is now part of Ohio Law.

This evening, Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 135, designating September as Craniofacial Acceptance Month. The Civee, Hope, Luke, The Civee’s parents and myself attended the signing with the bill’s sponsor, Senator Eric Kearney and some of the staff from the Cleft Lip and Palate Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It was an incredible event to be a part of.

After waiting with sponsors and people involved with other bills getting signed, we got our own session with the governor. Luke had fallen asleep in my arms while we were waiting. We were ushered into the governor’s office, introduced and he started to talking to us. We thanked him and right off the bat, The Civee mentioned several of the state agencies and programs that helped us with Hope’s surgeries and therapy. The Governor invited Hope to come sit in his lap, which she did. He was explaining the signing process to her, but I think she really wanted to steal one of his pens.

He looked at me and said “tell me about her.” Even thought I was on the spot, I threw out everything I could think of-I mentioned she was born with a cleft lip and palate, has had two surgeries (but left out that she’ll need more) and has received therapy both at Nationwide and from a county school. He said it looked like she was doing great, which I agreed with.

The Governor then asked me about Luke (who had made it up to my shoulder, still asleep) and said “he’s perfect, isn’t he.” I instinctively replied “yes, they both are,” not trying to correct him, but more proud of both of my children.

Governor Kasich was really nice with us and took a bunch of pictures while signing the bill. He asked Hope to sit in his lap again at the end and pointed out the desk was used once by Abraham Lincoln. Hope seemed to like listening as he told her a bit about the 16th President. I really wanted to say “Hope, we met him at the fair,” but this time I kept my mouth shut.

And just like that it was over. We got one of the 50 pens used during the signing, which I’m going to put away somewhere for Hope. I’m happy we did this for many reasons, but the biggest is to raise awareness and get appreciation for those affected by craniofacial issues and those who help them. I’m also happy we did this for Hope. She’s too young to appreciate it now, but maybe she can use the experience for a civics class or something in the future.

Hope’s Bill: Progress

A bill inspired by Hope is headed to the governor’s desk (or whatever surface the governor uses to sign acts into law).

Earlier today, the Ohio House passed Senate Bill 135, which designates September as Craniofacial Awareness Month. The Senate passed the bill back in May, during a session in which Hope got a nice round of applause from the lawmakers. This has been an interesting process to watch since The Civee first gave testimony on the bill more than a year ago.

I could go on about how great this is, but I think the Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Cleft Lip and Palate Center’s Facebook post put it best:

(And yes, the Christina referred to in that post is The Civee).

So thanks to The Civee, Senator Kearney (and his staff) and the team at Nationwide.

But that’s not the only cleft-related item. Today, I found out about Smile Trek, a journey undertaken by Marine Winston Fiore, who walked 5,000 miles across Southeast Asia to raise money for cleft surgeries. Fiore took the walk with fewer supplies than I have in my car trunk and used his Android and Google Maps to plan the trip. I don’t see anyone with an iPhone walking 5,000 miles across Asia. It’s an incredible story, check out the video:

And finally, here’s a picture of Hope and Luke: