Miles (Mis-)Quotes Yoda

A bit unclear on the concept… or is he?

Anger leads to hate
Hate leads to dumb
Dumb leads to stupid
Stupid leads to dead
Dead leads to nothing
Nothing leads to nothing
Nothing leads to nothing
Nothing leads to nothing
Nothing leads to nothing…

And then…

Love leads to sorrow
Sorrow leads to pain
Pain leads to friends forever

Clipper Cove Musical Cache

Yerba Buena 5 Had the most awesome caching experience with Miles today on Yerba Buena island, halfway across the bay between Oakland and SF. Still cracks me up when we happen on an ammo can cache. They’re generally the best ones, and loved the theme of this one (a depot for trading “mix-tape” CDs), but the sight of a five-yr-old cracking open a box labled “200 CARTRIDGES … M-13” still makes me laugh.

Star Wars and Kids

R2D2 OK, how to approach this… A few weeks ago Miles brought home an R2D2 toy and a “Learning to Read” Star Wars book. Started talking Star Wars characters and planets (you know, “light savers” and “Dark Tater”… the whole bit). Started making his own light sabers out of cardboard tubes, talking about the next characters he wanted to get. Turns out there’s a sizable cadre of kindergartners who are way into the Star Wars thing, and had even been watching the movies. The school is suddenly swimming with Star wars. Boy-hood had started for real.

Soon after, we went to a Star Wars-themed birthday party. Foam-core cut-out Tie Fighters to bomb with water balloons from the back deck, Stormtroopers tacked to the fence and a rack of Nerf guns to shoot them with, figurines all over the house, the whole nine yards. Great fun, but now Miles wanted to watch the real SW movies.

I never in a million years would have that the actual SW movies were age-appropriate for a five-year-old — we’re still on Backyardigans and Curious George fer cripes sake. Seemed like a quantum leap to go from kid shows to one of the great epics of the 20th century overnight. As of last week, his idea of grown-up TV was carefully selected and filtered episodes of Mythbusters and Man vs. Wild (my own personal TV obsessions), which he watched with me.

Started to doubt myself after learning that a lot of kindersquirts were already watching Star Wars. I was concerned about two things: Amount of violence and plot complexity. Could they even begin to grok it? And what effect would that much violence have on them? Talking to a lot of other dads about this recently, and starting to feel alone. Was I artificially holding him back? Was he more ready than I was giving him credit for? And if movie violence is in the context of an epic struggle between good and evil, and you know good is going to win, and that most of the killing is abstracted to ‘droids, is it really so bad? Especially if you watch with them and explain everything?

And doesn’t every parent who grew up with eps IV-VI dream of eventually watching the whole series in order, with their kids? I did. Just didn’t think we’d be doing this until age 10 or so.

Darthmaul Finally relented and borrowed episodes I-III from another dad. Granted, we were hitting the pause button every few minutes to explain things, but I was blown away, both by his ability to understand the story arc and by the fact that he wasn’t scared. Not one bit. I kept asking, and he kept reassuring me. I started to feel like I really had been holding him back, perhaps babying him unnecessarily in terms of what he could handle. His questions and impressions were so innocent, yet so wise. The death of Qui Gon Jinn seemed to affect him profoundly, but only, as it turned out, because he thought Qui Gon was Anakin’s daddy. Then Obi Wan’s vengeance on Darth Maul gave rise to a discussion about concepts of justice and revenge. The scene of Yoda teaching the ways of The Force to five-year-olds from across the galaxy had him ecstatic. He was getting it all, lapping it up. We were having an awesome time.

Got halfway through episode II tonight, then off to bed. 20 minutes later he starts crying out in terror from his bedroom. Went in to see what was up, and he was barely able to blubber out “DARTH MAUL IS STARING AT ME IN THE HALLWAY!!!”

Lord, what have I done? I’ve traumatized my child, subjected him to things no kindergartner should see. Feeling terrible about this. Held him for a long time, till he drifted off in peace.

Turns out that what he saw was the silhouette of a cute, puffy red dinosaur attached to his backpack, hanging from the door, amplified in the dim light to the standing incarnation of evil itself. Interesting that entire space stations full of souls being blown to fragments seem to have no effect, while the face of the dark side linger in his mind.

What to do next? He’s obsessed with a story, and we’re having a great time, but maybe I should have trusted my instincts and waited a few years. Should we turn off the Star Wars valve tomorrow? Maybe it’s a passing thing. But then what happens when he has to witness Luke doing battle with his own father? The politics of it all are complicated enough – how would I explain that one? We’ll leave this one up to him. If he’s willing to risk another bad dream in exchange for the waking fun, then so be it (but Amy sez: “One more nightmare, and we’re done.”)

Moving out of toddler-hood into genuine childhood, and all of its complexities. Everything becomes less clear-cut. You have to make up some of the rules as you go. But you also have to be solid, and consistent. You have to articulate things to yourself that have been dormant, bubbling in the back of your mind. “If I’m ever a parent, I’ll…” Time’s up. No more abstractions. Decision time.

Music: Pere Ubu :: Surfer Girl

Laptop. With Leopard.

Miles Laptop Came home from work tonight and Miles had something to show me. “I made a laptop!” I thought he was joking. Then I saw it. By gum, he did make a laptop. With number keys going right on up to 20. And no spacebar. But a laptop, nonetheless. And then it dawned on me… but I had to ask, to be sure. “Miles, does your laptop just have a picture of a leopard on screen, or is it running Leopard?” “It’s running Leopard!” Dang. Complete with a mouse. And a mousepad. A mousepad named Ziggy.

The other new addition to our house tonight — a hand-made picket sign with giant letters: “THE END OF THE WORLD!” This because the other day he whined that it was the end of the world when I told him he had to stop work on the beach hut he was building in a friend’s back yard. I told him he ought to make a sign saying that, so he could march it around downtown. So he did.

See also: The Laptop Club (8-year-olds draw their dream computers).

Music: The Fall :: Bingo Master

Outer Space

Miles-Barnacle 30 minutes before bedtime, Miles (pictured cross-eyed, balancing large barnacle on head) announces to me that, no, we aren’t going to start listening to Cinnamon Bear as planned. He’d just remembered that he’d made plans with four of his kindergarten pals to travel to outer space on Monday, and that he needed to get ready. Thus began a flurry of preparations, including:

– One scuba diving flipper (made from an empty Kleenex box) [check]

– One piece of maritime artwork featuring a glued-on wooden sign reading “The Brain,” accompanied by a hastily scrawled diagram of a human brain [check]

– One pair of binoculars made from two toilet paper tubes lashed together with blue masking tape [check]

– One small flashlight [check]

– One space helmet, made by widening the opening of the aforementioned flipper [check]

– One compass (real) [check]

Should be quite an adventure.

Update: This morning Miles added a pointy stick “for poking out alien’s eyes.” We suggested that it might be smarter to bring aliens back for scientific study, and he agreed. Ditched the pointy stick. Once he arrived at school with his bags of gear, his teacher got curious and wanted to know what time he was departing. “I’ll probably blast off at snack time and get back to earth at lunchtime.”

Music: Marcus Carl Franklin :: When the Ship Comes In

Like a Bonk on the Head

Milessako     Patrickjacksonmiles

Miles was the baddest cutest little Sheriff for Halloween, finally getting some mileage out of the cowboy outfit I brought back for him from Texas earlier this year (SXSW). Seen here with friends Sako, Patrick and Jackson at school. Went out with him tonight and he cleaned up (of course), even though he’s still so closed-minded about food that he refuses to try candy (what he doesn’t know is great for him!) His dentist is offering a buy-back program, giving kids $1/lb for the candy they collect, so he was mostly interested in racking up the weight (though I confess to having stolen one of his Abba Zabbas).

Unrelated: In the car on the way to grandparents house over the weekend, Miles suddenly says, apropos of nothing: “Sometimes life feels like a bonk on the head.” Followed shortly after with “I’m not listening to you because you have worms crawling up your nose.”

Five is golden.

Music: Amy Winehouse :: Back to Black


Walking out of the Lawrence Hall of Science with Miles today, after enjoying the brand new Wild Music exhibit, all about sound and the environment (M liked the hydrophone tank the best), we stopped at the fountain to throw in our pennies and make some wishes. Miles volunteered that he wished that he would “grow up to be a great thinker.” This took me totally by surprise, since I had no idea this noble goal was even on his list (his previous career ambitions have included garbage man, artist, and daddy).

Five minutes later, driving home in the car, he suddenly says, in a kind of sad little voice: “But wishes never come true, right Daddy?” Great, my kid’s a closet nihilist. Of course we had a conversation about working hard for what you want, etc. But in the course of our little talk, it became apparent he was talking about something else entirely. By “wishes never come true,” he was referring to the physical act of throwing coins in a fountain, not wishes in the abstract. He just meant that our coins had nothing to do with whether our wishes would come true. Turns out he was just mythbusting in a five-year-old way, not being a sadsack after all.

Faith restored, and a good chuckle.

Music: Ivan Boogaloo Joe Jones :: Sweetback

Wooden House

Wooden-House-M Over the past couple of months, Miles and I have been toiling in the garage in the evenings after dinner, working on simple construction projects. He’s getting his first opportunities to work the vice, pull the trigger on the electric drill (which I hold), run an orbital sander, help with the hole saw, screw screws, hammer nails, etc. His favorite tool, unsurprisingly, is the vice. At one point I was tweaking on the teensy hinge screws and looked over to find him cranking down on a tube of Gorilla Glue – had the thing torqued to the breaking point. Another half turn and it would have blown sky high. Which at first sounds like a total mess, but on further thought would have been an absolute disaster – glue in his hair, possibly his eyes, him rubbing his hands all over the place to get it off, making everything worse. He put so much work into this little house. Honestly, it doesn’t get used that much, but the process was wonderful for both of us.

Music: Fela Kuti :: 2000 Blacks Got To Be Free


Miles Kindergarten How does this happen? One minute they’re born, and the next they’re starting kindergarten. At the risk of sounding like a cliche’, the passage of time is blowing us away. Hard to believe Miles has already done two years of pre-school, plus the summers in-between. The K-5 we chose for him is a parent co-op, structured similarly to the preschool he was in, which means we’ll be putting in one day per week as parent participants (or, rather, Amy will be, since I’ll be at work), plus monthly meetings and plenty of weekend maintenance “parties.” In exchange, we get a level of involvement with his education second only to home schooling, get to help shape the curriculum and philosophy of the school (an arrangement that’s worked out marvelously at the pre-school), and get to go along on the tons of cool field trips the school does. Many adventures to come.

Aside: An apparent unspoken requirement of the school is to own a pair of Keen sandals – my straw count the other day turned up about 80% of the children’s feet clad in Keens, another 10% Crocs, leaving only 10% for some antiquated invention called “shoes.” Fortunately Miles was properly pre-equipped with his – the most perfect work-horse footwear for kids ever invented.

Music: Teh Zakary Thaks :: Bad Girl

The Other WP-Cache

Miles WP shirt WP-Cache easily ranks among the top five of my most-used (and most critical!) WordPress plugins (static site performance with dynamic site behavior, and all that jazz). But last week, heard about another kind of WP-Cache — developer Ryan Boren planted a couple of ammo cans full of WordPress t-shirts in the middle of Almaden Quicksilver Park — and didn’t list them on In other words, a little insider training :)

Don’t generally like to drive much for a geocache (it kind of taints the enviro aspect), but made an exception today – this just sounded like too much fun. A huge and beautiful park, and plenty of traditional caches in the area too. Made the trip with Miles this morning and ended up spending almost the entire day hiking.

Tracked down the shirts mid-day and there’s still a ton of ’em. No extra-smalls, so had to drape him in a small. The find was extra special because this was, coincidentally, our 100th find! Happy birthday to us, or something.

Stopped to eat Bunny Grahams and drink the last of the water (when will I learn?). Splashed each other in a creek. Found an entire deer skeleton (and brought the skull home in the bag my WP shirt came in). Dropped off some of the travel bugs we picked up in Minnesota. Ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches in the middle of the woods. Hiked our butts off (Miles did five full miles today!) Amazing views, very few people, great father-son day. Life is good.

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