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Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks


Saturday, January 20, 2007  

Swiperphobia

The trouble with being a blogger with a kid is the almost unavoidable pitfall of becoming a daddyblogger. Let's face it, though: I don't want to write about my day job (not only becaue I don't want to get Dooced, but also because it would bore you to tears), most of my paltry interactions with modern pop culture are already documented in exhaustive detail elsewhere, the house is finished, and the cats don't do much but lie around. Pretty much the bulk of my bloggable experiences are interactions with the child.

But sometimes you have to stop and think and remember that one day, that child is going to be old enough to read some of this. He won't, but he'll be able to. And maybe someone will send him a link to a years-old entry that, when he's fourteen or fifteen, will utterly mortify him. And I'm not sure I want that responsibility.

That said, there's this kid I know. He's about two.

His first real nightmare was several months ago. He woke up late at night and cried, "Swiper took my cake." He didn't have any cake, and hadn't for a while, so the only explanation was that he'd had a bad dream.

Those of you with toddlers and TVs already know who Swiper is. For the rest of you, Swiper is a character on the animated series Dora the Explorer. While Dora and her sidekick, a semi-retarded monkey named Boots, go about their adventures, they're regularly plagued by a fox named Swiper. Can you guess what Swiper does? Good guess, unless you guessed that Swiper is a compulsive credit card shopper, in which case guess again.

But the truth is that Swiper is the worst thief in the world, and quite frequently fails to live up to his name. A couple of factors are responsible for this. One is that Swiper's approach in the vicinity is always heralded by "sneaky" theme music, which notifies Dora to announce, "Uh-oh! That sounds like Swiper the fox!" (Dora always yells everything). Plus Swiper pops into view a couple of times, giving us glimpses of his mischievous grin, gloves, and Dread-Pirate-Roberts mask, so Dora and Boots are sure to see him coming. Swiper's complete ignorance of the element of surprise gives Dora and Boots plenty of time to utter the phrase "Swiper, no swiping!" three times, which always succeeds in thwarting Swiper, leaving him to snap his fingers and groan, "Oh, maaaan" before scampering off. In other words, Danny Ocean he ain't.

But even the worst thief in the world occasionally manages to pull off a job. On rare occasions, Swiper is actually able to get close enough to make his move before Dora and Boots can get out more than a "Swiper, nooooo--". Wherupon he snatches an item from Dora and Boots -- her backpack, a fallen star, whatever. And then the worst part is, he doesn't even bother making off with it. He just throws it or hides it somewhere and smirks at them, "You'll never find your [backpack/little star/blowgun] now!" Then he cackles and runs away, no richer except for the satisfaction of having briefly inconvenienced someone else.

Because even in those rare instances where Swiper succeeds, Dora ad Boots quickly recover the item in question. Which is why a certain toddler's phobia is so puzzling to me.

Recently, in the bath, he was reaching around behind himself and discovered a part of his anatomy that he had not been previously familiar with. Or, if he was, he didn't have a word for it. He commented briefly on this new discovery, and in a short time had settled on some kind of fixation with relation to it and a certain cartoon fox. Now hardly a bath goes by without at least one utterance of the phrase:

"Swiper gonna take my hole."

As a parent, you naturally want to protect your child from everything. You even want to protect him from the fear of everything. That's not always possible, of course; on a practical level, you do want him to be afraid to do things that may result in an injury, such as climbing a precarious stack of power tools to retrieve a sharp knife from on top of the fridge so he can use it to fish his firecracker out of the toaster. But aside from that, you want to be able to promise him that nothing bad will ever happen to him. Unfortunately, you can't promise that he'll never be hurt, or that nothing will ever happen to someone he loves, or that a favorite toy won't ever get lost.

However, there are certain things that you can promise him will never happen. And one of those is that Swiper will never, ever ever take his hole. Being able to say that with confidence gives me a warm feeling inside.

Let's just count the levels at which the success of such a heist is unlikely in the extreme. To start with, Swiper is:

1) The worst thief in the world.
2) Fictional.
3) Animated.
4) Based in a tropical jungle, and not the upper Midwest.
5) Confined to a fairly narrow M.O., targeting only things he can easily grab.
6) Not typically armed with anything he could use to steal a hole, whether it be a sharp knife or some kind of plug.

And even if Swiper were somehow able to overcome these formidable obstacles in the course of attempting to perpetrate an act of anal larceny, getting past the kid's pants and diaper would afford his victim plenty of time to repeat "Swiper, no swiping!" the required three times. Any such attempt would certainly end in a disappointed "Oh, maaaan" instead of a smug, "You'll never find your poop-chute now!"

Yet this child continues to fear becoming a victim of rectal theft. My certainty that this will never happen is something I just can't seem to communicate to him. All I can do is help him be more prepared. No, I'm not talking about getting him an Ass-Club or something. Whenever he mentions his fear of getting butt-jacked, I just say "Swiper, no swiping!" with him a few times. Then he goes, "Oh, maaaan" and everything's all better.

I just hope his problems remain that easy to solve for a little longer. But I know that someday, he's going to be living in fear that somebody will find an embarrassing blog post written about him when he was two.

But then that won't be just his problem. It'll be his dad's, too. Whoever his dad might be.

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posted by M. Giant 7:35 PM 19 comments

19 Comments:

I completely misread the title and was expecting to hear that M. Small was afraid of windshield wipers.

And after moving recently from St. Paul to Rochester, I would love more stories about how the Twin Cities rock. Seriously, it's dead down here. Let me live vicariously.

By Anonymous DebaDar, at January 20, 2007 at 8:14 PM  

Oh my God, that's hysterical.

Well, as far as irrational kid fears go, at least he's afraid of a (very inept, but still) bad guy. When I was 5 I used to have terrifying nightmares about Superman.

At least I never thought he was a butt-pirate, though. :)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 20, 2007 at 9:11 PM  

At least he doesn't have an irrational fear of cows in the yard. I think my nephew might have been as old as 6 before he would go out in the front (cow-less) yard.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 21, 2007 at 6:05 AM  

When my younger sister was about 4, she woke us all screaming: "Froggy bit my toe!!"

In this case, frogs had neither been seen nor mentioned at any time that we could remember. No amount of reassurance that a)frogs don't have teeth or b)frogs are relatively rare in Idaho hotel rooms did much to calm her down.

That incident haunted her for years (although it is fun to tease her with now). At least you have some idea of where this fear came from to begin with.

By Blogger Tracy, at January 21, 2007 at 8:50 AM  

Brilliant! It's quite impressive that M. Small was able to take 2 unrelated ideas and bring them together with a "swipper gonna steal my hole" I love it.

By Anonymous DIane, at January 21, 2007 at 10:30 AM  

That made me laugh until I cried. Dora has a lot to answer for.

By Blogger Bridget, at January 21, 2007 at 11:42 AM  

I have tears from laughing so hard.

Rectal theft is definitely an uninsured area (so to speak...)

By Blogger Dinah, at January 21, 2007 at 4:01 PM  

I used to be terrified of the Disney chipmunks...whatstheirnames...and would cry when they came on TV.

By Blogger emjaybee, at January 21, 2007 at 4:59 PM  

Hilarious. I about peed my pants!

We apparently have baas (sheep) in the bed and every night I have to promise our son that mommy will protect him from the baas if they come back and we have to check under the covers for them before he gets into bed. He wakes most morning informing we "and the baas didn't get me!" *giggle, giggle*

<>Steph
a.k.a. Bassette

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 21, 2007 at 5:13 PM  

Well, that was the hardest I have laughed in weeks. Thanks, M. Giant, for sharing the story of some kid you know. And thanks, nameless kid, for making my day.

Swiper gonna take my hole, indeed.

By Anonymous Michelle, at January 21, 2007 at 9:03 PM  

That reminds me - I have to get rid of those 3 or 4 Dora DVDs that my 5 and 6 year olds no longer have any interest in. As much as they loved Dora, they have moved on now, and we are grateful. SpongeBob is a bit more tolerable than Dora. And "Between the Lions" kicks some serious poop-chute....

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 22, 2007 at 2:36 PM  

This is one of my favorite posts ever!

By Blogger Nancy, at January 22, 2007 at 6:38 PM  

You have a great way with words - this post was excellent.

By Anonymous James, at January 22, 2007 at 8:45 PM  

When my daughter was about two and a half, she LOVED Dora (she's three and hot and cold for Dora now). So we got her a little set of Dora figures. She was petrified of the Swiper. We had to take it out of rotation. There must be something terrifying about that fox for toddlers that we just don't get. Anyway, great post. Good luck defending the hole from that sneaky fox.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 23, 2007 at 8:40 AM  

Thank you - I needed that laugh so much. It's been a really crappy couple of weeks. I just hope I don't have to explain myself the next time I'm giving my two-year-old her bath, and collapse in a pile of giggles.

By Anonymous Patty, at January 23, 2007 at 10:26 AM  

I'm still wiping tears out of my eyes -- this was HILARIOUS. :D

By Blogger Fuzzball, at January 24, 2007 at 1:33 PM  

"Swiper gonna take my hole." So funny! Man I hate Dora. The constant yelling, the repetition, the inane songs, etc., ad nauseum. Of course that means my 2.5 year old loves it! But he never gets to see it because we only record shows we can bear to watch (Maisy, Jack's Big Music Show, Oswald), and he has no concept of live t.v. Poor child is deprived.

By Anonymous Mandy, at January 24, 2007 at 2:34 PM  

I am getting ready to move, and am completely frazzled - as in every single thing in the WORLD, including my poor husband, is getting on my last nerve. I decided to take a break from packing and check what my favorite bloggers are up to. I read your story of M. Small, and laughed until tears were literally running down my face. I'm still blowing my nose. (The neighbors I'm about to leave behind probably now think our apartment is inhabited by hyenas.) Thanks for some much-needed levity. You have a lucky kid.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 31, 2007 at 1:55 PM  

good comments here. check out this site for a new ad about Dora the Explorer illegally crossing the border.

http://tangypepper.com

it's really funny. click on the Dora the Explorer icon.

By Blogger RC, at February 15, 2007 at 5:32 PM  

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