Eagle-eyed readers noticed resting on the best couch ever that there was an orange octopus. His name and how he ended up there is a great story.
When my daughter was in elementary school, we participated in a program called Indian Princesses that started in kindergarten with graduation in 5th grade. Each month there were two activities: a meeting at one of the family’s homes and another event where we embarked on an adventure like camping, rock climbing, or other outside activity.
At the monthly meeting, after snacks and drinks, we’d sit in a circle, and each daughter would introduce herself and her Dad. She’d then have a choice. With an item she brought from home, she’d either let the other daughters guess the item she brought, or she could just tell a story about the item.
New daughters were naturally nervous about speaking in front of twenty strangers. My daughter spent the first three meetings completely silent sitting on my lap – so did a lot of her friends. No problem, I would introduce us, and I would do the sharing. Next daughter, next dad.
At the fourth meeting, my daughter said her name. At the fifth meeting, her name and mine. At the sixth meeting, her name, mine, and she shared a brief story about a small stuffed bear she brought that evening. A year later, she leaped at the opportunity to stand up and speak in front of these people. When she graduated from Indian Princesses, the idea of standing up in front of a group of strangers and telling a story about anything was second nature.
Writing as a person who in my 40s still struggles with public speaking, I feel immense pride when my daughter effortlessly – expertly – stands up in public and confidently speaks. This leads us to Kyle.
Our best Indian Princesses adventure was the sleepover at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The tribe arrived at night and had a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and then we slept overnight right in front of the massive tanks full of, ya’know, sharks.
After we had awoken, my daughter and I walked through the store and she grabbed the octopus you see sitting on my couch. Dad, this is perfect for you. Ok. She also found herself a hammerhead shark that she named Miles.
Her stuffed animals are mostly gone now. My daughter moved onto horses and then onto Twenty One Pilots, but I kept the octopus because that octopus reminds me of not only the value of conquering fear but the earned lifelong confidence that accompanies this act.
Each year or so, I do a Rands Charity Shirt. Every single cent of profit goes to a children’s literacy fund called First Book that gets books in the hands of the disadvantaged. When I was brainstorming artwork for the shirt, I asked the Rands Leadership Slack for ideas and someone suggested the octopus, not knowing any of the backstory.
When we arrived at a good design for the logo, I showed it to my daughter and asked, “Does this octopus have a name?” She looked at me exasperated, “Dad, his name is Kyle.”