Thursday, May 13, 2010


I watched my youngest daughter play upright bass in jazz band today. Ben, the band teacher, and his students toured a few elementary schools to promote the music program at Monika's middle school and encourage the next year's freshmen to take up band.  They played about six or seven tunes.  My daughter and one of the saxophone players impressed me most.  I joined the “tour” after my optometrist appointment at noon and helped carry the drums and whatnot. Lugging this gear into the bus reminded me of those halcyon days as a keyboardist for a progressive metal band. Good times.

We named Monika Katherine after St. Augustine’s mother and Katherine Zell, a sixteenth-century Protestant woman who aided and abetted the Reformation. My fetish for the letter K is also a culprit here (my other daughters are Erika and Jessika). Her birthday is leap year day, February 29, and we joke about celebrating it only once every four years. Sometimes I think she inherited my temperament, but then again she’s more analytical and logical, or “left brain,” than me. Unlike my middle daughter Jessika, she’s not a ham; she’s content with being behind the scenes. Since infancy, it seems, Monika has been fascinated with games; she has a knack for numbers and establishing patterns. The other day she beat me at cribbage in her first game ever! If nothing else, her interest in books, attention to detail, and non-brown eyes make her a chip off the old block.

Last Sunday I watched her play soccer. She’s best as a defender and is a decent goalie. I played soccer (and baseball) back in the day too, but I was never great. She’s gifted, and she’s taken up tennis too. She’s the type of kid who's bright and excels at the particular hobbies or extracurricular activities she decides to pursue.  With her smarts and all, my only concern is that she walk in humility and not become too impatient with all the idiots and imbeciles out there.

In a way she's not an ordinary kid.  For instance, I like the fact that she would sit and watch old episodes of Columbo on Netflix with me.  Though I loved this show as a kid, I think we both ended up thinking that the show, usually clocking in at 75 minutes or so, runs too long and drags a bit by today's TV standards.  We prefer the show Monk, which also features a quirky detective who exhibits the same acumen and seemingly preternatural ability to solve crimes as does Poe's brilliant creation C. Auguste Dupin.

Those of you who have two children, or even two cats, no doubt think they're opposites.  One's extravert, the other's introvert, or whatever the case may be.  It gets more interesting when you have a third kid.  Will she exhibit the same temperament and personality as one of her older siblings, or will she represent an independent third category?  My take is that each of our daughters has her own unique temperament, but, then again, I'm the parent saying this.  I swore I would never write a blog in praise of my kids.  Who other than a parent wants to read about that, huh?  That's something mothers would do; as a rule, fathers tend to be more objective about their children's merits and demerits and more self-conscious about trumpeting their children's achievements to others.  If I'm going to hear about little Jimmy's prowess on the football field or Jennifer being the valedictorian, I'd much rather hear about it from a non-parent.  So I understand if my glowing description of Monika turns some of you off.  My wife, mother-in-law and perhaps a few female readers, I suspect, might appreciate a blog like this one for a change, though.