Deep Thoughts on Fatherhood: Big-Boned Women, Bellybutton Paste, and Girl-Crushes at Old Navy

Deep Thoughts on Fatherhood: Big-Boned Women, Bellybutton Paste, and Girl-Crushes at Old Navy December 5, 2011

Note: For the first installment of Deep Thoughts on Fatherhood, go here.

1.  A LITTLE LESS HONESTY, PLEASE: I took my three-year-old girl out to a furniture store with me a couple months ago, and at one point we came around the end of an aisle and found ourselves face-to-face with a portly middle-aged woman.  My daughter extended her arm, and pointed her finger, and said in her outside-voice: “She’s fat!”  We were about three feet apart.  Facing each other.  Ugh.

My daughter had commented before on bald men, tall men or strong men.  But she had never before commented on a “big-boned” woman.  I was mortified.

What exactly are you supposed to do at that moment?  My mouth poured forth with apologies, and the woman looked slightly shaken.  “That’s okay,” she said eventually, “she’s just telling the truth.  I really should exercise more, shouldn’t I?”  Which I thought was a fantastic response on her part.  Once she was out of earshot, I told my little girl that what she had said was really not nice.  I coached her on what to say, and we went and found the woman.  “My daughter has something to tell you,” I said, and my daughter followed: “I’m sorry I wasn’t nice.  You’re beautiful.”

2.  BELLYBUTTON PASTE: This one’s not for the squeamish.  As I’ve mentioned before, in the nine seconds that pass between the appearance of her “poop face” and when we place her on the changing table and unbutton her onesie, our second daughter defecates with such extraordinary force that she manages to coat her entire torso in a fine layer of brown.  Well, one thing all parents know is that your newborn comes home from the hospital with a bellybutton that looks something like a purple, twisted, rotting ziti noodle.  Eventually the ziti noodle falls off — by which point it merely looks like a raisin.  Our elder daughter actually held the shriveled bit of umbilical cord in front of her open mouth in order to evoke a horrified reaction at the prospect she might eat it.  Her gambit worked; she got the reaction she desired.

After the ziti-raisin is gone, however, you are supposed to let the bellybutton heal.  You protect it from irritation by the diaper.  And eventually you are allowed to wipe it gently with warm water.  But it retains a discolored appearance for quite some time.  We cleaned our second daughter’s bellybutton when we bathed her, and eventually I noticed that it was growing more discolored again.

Those of you with sicker minds are already going to see where this is going.  I took a wet wipe and applied it to her belly button, and realized to my dismay that I was not wiping up bellybutton goo.  I was wiping up several layers of what had escaped from her diaper over the past week.  It had taken refuge in the concavity of her bellybutton and camouflaged itself as bellybutton goo in order to survive.  A fantastic evolutionary mechanism, to be sure, but not one I’m eager to see again.

So let this be another word to the wise: keep wiping that bellybutton.  Keep wiping the bellybutton.

3.  THE EVIL EYE.  My elder daughter has been early on just about everything.  She started crawling at 5 months, 3 weeks; she started walking at 7 months, 10 days; she was speaking in Shakespearean English when the other kids her age could barely manage Limp Bizkit.  She’s also taken to lying at an early age.  I don’t know whether I should be proud of this.

It started with innocent declarations that mama really did say that she could have a bowl of ice cream right before bedtime, and daddy really did say that mama should give her all of her Halloween candy at once.  Now, one of her favorite past-times is poking me in the eye.  She asks me to “Show her the red part,” which means pulling my eyelids up or down, while looking the other way, so that all she sees are the red parts of the eye and inner eyelid.  Then, when I can’t see anything, she pokes me in the eye.

When she first did this, she found my response hilarious.  Now she asks to “see the red part,” and I ask her repeatedly whether she’s going to poke me in the eye.  Smiling mischievously — she doesn’t exactly have a great poker-face — she insists she will not.  Then of course she pokes me in the eye.  She asks me to do it again, and again she insists she won’t try to poke me in the eye.  How she thinks that she has any remaining credibility, I really don’t know.  But I’ve discovered that it’s the most exquisite torture when I use one hand to grab hold of her wrists, and use the other hand to expose the reds of my eye.  To see the eyes exposed, and not be able to poke them, drives her crazy.

4.  MY DAUGHTER’S GIRL-CRUSH ON A MANNEQUIN.  My daughter has also come early to the joys of the friend-crush:

Who can say from whence love springs? My daughter saw Old Navy Girl's cheery disposition and knew she'd found a kindred spirit. I'm not sure what race Old Navy Girl is, but it's definitely not Chinese/Scottish. So I'm proud of their multiethnic friendship, even though I'm disturbed by Old Navy Girl's preppy wardrobe.
One weekend later, we came directly from a party, and my daughter told Old Navy Girl how much she had missed her. She appreciates how Old Navy Girl never judges her, even for the smudged face-paint on her cheek. She feels safe in Old Navy Girl's embrace.


On Halloween, my daughter was businesslike. She wanted to affirm her relationship with Old Navy Girl, then get back to the candy-gathering. Note: she did not share her candy with Old Navy Girl. Love has its limits.
My daughter and Old Navy Girl prepare to take Old Navy Dog out for a walk. They're both pleased. Sometimes it's the little things that keep love alive.
My daughter and Old Navy Girl enjoy a quiet moment -- oblivious to the army of pajama'd zombies marching behind them.
My daughter laughs at danger! Noting the pajama-zombie army, she mounts Old Navy Dog and grabs hold of Old Navy Girl as they gallop past, enjoying the thrill of escaping undeath.

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  • Desiree Halcomb

    Hi Tim,

    This was awesome. My smile muscles are hurting.

    miss you guys.

  • Michael

    We have a 7-month-old son, and I remember with terror those days of wiping that belly button, hoping that it would fall off soon. I feel better about our experience, though, having read this. There’s nothing like having a baby.

    I stumbled on Philosophical Fragments several weeks ago, and since then you’ve become a regular read for me. I almost always agree with you, but even on the occasion when I don’t, I always appreciate how you approach both tough and lighthearted subjects. Thanks for the work you’re doing here; it’s an encouragement to a fellow believer and to someone who makes his living off the written word.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thank you, Michael, that’s very kind of you. My posts have been relatively infrequent of late, due to travel and the like, but I hope to ramp up again soon.


  • I love this. Your love shows very strong.

  • Your daughter is ADORABLE.

    (But based on #3, if she ever asks you to kick a football, and swears she won’t pull it away at the last minute, say no.)

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Excellent advice, Gina. Thank you!

  • Old Grandma

    Your daughter is adorable, but I’m pretty sure that she will be the kid that thinks it’s hilarious to poke other people’s bruises.

    Usually the brothers and sisters of the bruise-poker do not think it is very funny. And Mom and Dad are not amused referees. None of this bothers the bruise pokers. Don’t way I didn’t warn you.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks for the warning! I’ll work on that.

  • Years ago, when I was only about 5 years old, my mother was driving home with me in the back seat. At one point I looked out the window and saw a man working in his yard and said to my mother, “He’s fat!” At that moment, the man happened to get up and go inside at which point my mother said, “See? He heard you and you hurt his feelings.” Boy did that straighten me out. I was haunted by guilt for days. On the other hand, I tend to be very sensitive towards the feelings of others, so way to go mom, I suppose!

  • Holly

    Timothy, your daughter is so cute. The pictures of her with the Gap girl are the funniest ones I’ve seen in a long time.

    But a little “chastisement,” if you will – from an older mom. At least I assume I’m older. I’ve got nine children of my own, both boys and girls.

    Please don’t ever tell her about her comment from the Dora show. That’s just crass, and it’s not really a joke for a dad to tell his daughter. It’s a dad’s job to pretend he doesn’t know that or doesn’t think that way. There are some lines a dad shouldn’t cross, I think, and male humor using genital crudities? Bleh. Resist the urge, and let her grow up thinking her daddy is a noble thinking man. There will be plenty of crude men around her as she grows up – why would you want to be one of them?

    I know, I know….I don’t really have a right to say this to you. But I read your post a few days ago, and it’s really bothered me as a mom and as a female.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Holly, I don’t see any reason why I would mention this to my daughter in later life. And I see reasons not to do so, including the ones you mentioned.

      Thanks and God bless!