I was watching a nature show the other day that showed a mother bear and her cub playing. Their play consisted of a mock fight. This was not only fun for the cub, but also taught the cub valuable bear life skills. The cub gained physical strength and knowledge of how to fight.
I tried to map that interaction to my relationship with my daughter, Daisy. Occasionally we do wrestle, and although it's fun for her, it doesn't really teach her valuable day-to-day skills. Daisy rarely has the need to wrestle herself some dinner or wrestle up an 'A' on her multiplication test. Our mock fighting wasn't really the same thing as the bears'.
Eventually I realized that the closest match to the bears' fighting was the way I argue with her. I mean don't most humans settle their disagreements with discourse (current administration excluded) ?
I have mock arguments with Daisy all the time. I'll insist that we currently live on Mars, or that 2 plus 2 is 5, or that I'm the child and she's the parent. I'm pretty good at propping up these ridiculous arguments by keeping her on the defensive and constantly "logically" concluding things that aren't quite logical. A typical argument will go like this:
Me: I'm the baby and you're the daddy.
Me: Of course I'm the baby. What makes you think you're the baby?
Daisy: I'm smaller than you.
Me: So what? Your friend Kate is younger than you and she's taller than you, right?
Me: So, we agree that height has nothing to do with age. Now, aren't you pretty mature?
Me: And you have to agree that I'm very immature, right? Always joking around?
Me: We're in total agreement, Daddy!
Daisy: NO! YOU'RE THE DADDY!
Me: Then explain why my diaper is poopy?
Ok, that's not the best example, but you get the idea. I really enjoy seeing if she can cut through the nonsense and identify the cracks in my arguments. She used to be terrible at this, but in the last year she's gotten pretty good at pinning me down in the right places. It makes me proud.
(I used to do the same thing with my girlfriends. Those arguments usually ended with the girl hitting me. The first woman who didn't hit me? That one I married.)
Anyway, if Daisy grows up to be a hard-working, kind, and smart person with good social graces, then we can credit Hank. If, however, she can turn complete gibberish into a superficially plausible argument, then that's all my doing. We all parent to our strengths.