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The Engineer and Nora have a game, and it goes like this. Say she is wearing a blue dress:

E: Nora, I like your pretty green dress.

N: No Papa, it’s blue.

E: What, this dress? No, this dress is green.

N: No, it’s blue!

E: Blue? No way, you’re goofy, that’s green.

N: No, YOU’RE goofy, that’s blue!

They’ve been playing this way since she learned her first words for colors. In the beginning she was tentative about it, not quite sure she had her words right. Papa, after all, is much bigger, and he knows far more words, so how could he be the one to make a mistake? Now she is quite confident and calls him out on it every time.

As Fathers’ Day approaches, I’m thinking about all the different ways we are taught. Popular culture has it now that we must intentionally work on our kids’ development on a regular basis. While this springs from the noble goal of doing everything we can to be good parents, it ignores the fact that kids develop every day just by engaging with the world around them, and whether or not we have read the latest book on the subject, we do teach them and help them develop just by being with them and being who we are.

I much prefer the Engineer’s game to any well intentioned educational kids’ activity I’ve seen on Pinterest boards. The game has taught Nora to be confident about the way she perceives the world, and not to hesitate to speak up about it. After all, even Papa, who knows everything, is sometimes just goofy and needs to hear the truth.