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My toddler Anna is standing on her booster seat scream-singing, “Helpless, helpless, heeelp-less…”

She demands that someone get her down from her seat, now. This is hilarious to the adults in the room, and those I tell the story to later because: 1. Tiny kid  2. Singing Neil Young  3. Like a boss.

She’s almost 3 at the time and, yeah, we have a 1970s booster seat because it’s yellow and looks cool and was super cheap at a yard sale. No, it doesn’t buckle up.  She knows the verses to that song “North Ontario” and all, but I’m sure she only cares about it because it gets her our rapt attention.

Fast-forward to this week: I’m trying to get Anna into awesome purple Dollarama bats-and-stars Halloween socks. She’s telling me they’re scary. I’m telling her they’re badass. And I wonder if I am being a responsible parent here. Her only prior experience of bats was at the ROM — and that bat cave was pretty creepy.

Things my child likes: Dolly Parton, Kraftwerk (“we are the robots/doot-do-doot-doot”) and ‘zombie fingers’ (a/k/a asparagus). She listens to Daniel Romano before bed. She also likes: Dora the Explorer, Tangled and these awful pink and white tennis shoes she thinks are awesome because her grandmother got them for her. Lately she has been requesting Barbie: Life In The Dreamhouse when we log into Netflix.

I took her to see Monsters University in the movie theatre and she lost it over the sad umbrellas in the opening Pixar short. Little kid; big feelings.

The (obvious, I’m sure) truth is—I know my kid is a reflection of me. Or rather, I expect that when people see my kid they judge how I’m  doing with her and who I am based on how she presents to the world.

Am I trying to pose my kid to say, “T-M has grown up, but she hasn’t lost her edge”? I know seeing Anna playing a ukulele on Instagram makes parenthood look more appealing to friends who aren’t parents and me look like a cooler parent than, say, a Vine of her in Disney Princess slippers pressing buttons on that Laugh & Learn puppy at 10 p.m., or pouring 6 a.m. tea out of that prissy talking teapot.

That teapot taught Anna “open and close.” So far the ukulele has been a photo prop and occasional drum.

My kid had skinny jeans before she had hair. She asks to go to galleries. I’ve crafted a mini-genius who corrects people when they call a skeleton a skull or vice versa. She and I learned how to use smart-phones at the same time. And for sure, she makes up for some of my social fails: I now always have something to talk about, to show off, essentially to make do tricks. She’s bold and on in ways I’ve never been, even into my adult life.

She’s young though and so far she’s mostly willing to go with what I tell her we like.



Dora’s not actually the worst — and sweatpants are warmer than jeans and easier for potty training. Right now I’m excited about the tofu mini button we bought at the last Junction Flea and put on her ski vest; I’m excited that she tried wild boar at the Jean-Talon market in Montreal.

But I’m also wondering if I should quit pestering her about the bat socks and maybe compromise on our video choices. It may not be Mandy Moore (the voice of modern Rapunzel in the travesty that is Tangled), but I do have a soft spot for The Little Mermaid and glittery pink cupcakes.

Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is a writer, editor, media-maker, mama and tired radical. She’s on the Twitter.

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