In the time honored tradition of changing names to protect the innocent, I have given a lot of thought as to how I’ll discuss parenting and stay-at-home-dad-ography/ology. Aliases for little ones shall be employed. This is true of my own and of any others I discuss. Let’s start with mine. We’ll call them Sansa and Arya throughout this blog.
For those of you who haven’t read Game of Thrones, Sansa is one of the main characters and she spends much of the early portions of the story without agency. Bounced around as a pawn in the Great Game, Sansa sees her world view change from starry eyed innocence to that of a shrewd and calculating player herself in the Game.
Sansa starts off loving princes and princesses and the idea of marrying a king and ruling over her people happily ever after. Before the conclusion of the first book, however, her paradigm is already exposed for the fraud it is. That’s a bitter pill for her to swallow, but swallow it she does. What makes my Sansa like book Sansa?
My Sansa loves her unicorns and princesses, and we’ve had quite a few kickass tea parties. She makes me talk for her teddies which, as a voice actor, is a lot of fun. She gets a kick out of them having conversations together. This is a superficial similarity, though. As Sansa in the story finds her agency, so, too, does mine. As she’s grown I’ve seen her learn to get what she wants in a variety of ways. She tries different tactics to get her way, everything from kindness to reason, cajoling to coercion. It’s unbelievable how smooth a talker she can be, but she also manages to do it without malice, which makes her even more dangerous. I wouldn’t be surprised if she became a world class attorney.
She’s empathetic and loving. She’ll stop teachers at her school to hug them, even if they’re in a rush to get somewhere. Sansa also makes an effort to include others and tries to make sure everyone is happy and having a good time. Book Sansa has much of this taken from her by others with selfish motives which is one of my challenges as a parent to help prevent. More in another post about how we as parents can protect our children while also allowing life to teach them the lessons only life experience can.
She’ll make people gifts (coloring pictures, construction paper puppets) because, as she will remind me, “I like to make people happy.”
My favorite moments are when she declares how she feels about things and proceeds to stun me with the soundness of her wisdom and depth of her empathy.
“I played with [child x] today, she seemed lonely so we played on the monkey bars together.We shouldn’t let other people play alone if they don’t want to. I like making people feel included.”
What else makes her like Sansa? She fuckin’ gets it. She’s young and her lessons will come, but she gets it. Her lights are on and she watches the world around her. In the Game of Thrones series, Sansa is victimized and left without agency for much of the early portion of the epic, but once she finds her footing she becomes the deadliest player of the game since Cersei. She takes the hard lessons of her life and turns them to her advantage. I’m not worried about my Sansa leaning in to life lessons and making them work for her.
Arya does not shy away from anyone who messes with her. I have seen Arya terrorize children twice her age and size, and she’ll do it alone and prevail. My favorite example of this is when she cleared out a jungle gym so she could play on it. She was two and a half at the time, and by God she had the whole thing to herself.
“Mommy, Arya won’t let us play on the jungle gym,” said five year old Sansa about herself and three of her friends. True story.
Arya is clumsy and will trip over grains of sand, but once she learns the water dance that’ll change. Although I hope she’s always a little clumsy because she laughs at herself whenever she falls. I’ve seen her eat it falling off a slide and get up laughing, tufts of grass between her fingers and straw in her hair.
Arya’s lights are on, too, and she’s like me: she pushes buttons to see how far she can go before a person snaps, then nimbly dances away as she incurs their ire. She’ll do it smiling, too. She knows. I swear the little shit knows and does it on purpose.
Arya’s capacity for love is as big as Sansa’s, but Arya isn’t as touchy feely. She gives incredible hugs and says the sweetest things, but have zero bedside manners.
Me (eyes shut from a migraine): Arya honey, daddy really can’t read to you right now, I’m sorry. My head has a booboo.
The *thip thip thip* of footie pajamas.
*thip thip thip*
Arya: Here daddy put this on your head.
*Arya places a cold compress on my forehead.*
Arya: All better?
*heavy knocks on my temple*
Arya: Hurry up, head!
I suspect she’d make a fine, if grouchy, doctor.
What else makes her like Arya? She is absolutely relentless. Both wolves are forces to be reckoned with, but it’s Arya who is a force of nature.
The Pack Survives
It would be very easy for the casual reader to detect some bias on my part between Sansa and Arya. The casual reader would be wrong. Remember: Sansa may like her princesses and her tea parties, but it’s also Sansa who doubles back to watch a starving mastiff maul a man to death, so spread that on your toast. ONE LUMP OR TWO MOTHER FUCKER
These two wolves could not be more different and yet so clearly from the same pack. They love one another and defend one another. Arya has had Sansa’s back quite a few times, especially when I’m bombarding the latter with tickles. The former gets in my face and says, “Stop it she doesn’t like that!” and tries to pull me off. Arya puts herself in harm’s way for the ones she loves. Already. At three.
I’ve also seen Sansa tell Arya to do things and Arya’s eyes will gleam evilly as she dutifully does as ordered. I can already tell, when they’re older, Sansa will be the one who picks the targets and Arya will be the one to shiv them in an alley.
Together, they’re going to be unstoppable.
In the words of Lord Eddard Stark: “… the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”
You know not your own peril.
Lower your shoulder and wade in.