Queen, Prince, and the King

On the drive home from school, the iPhone playlist comes to Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls.

Julianna (she’s 12):  Who are they?  They sound like Bohemian Rhapsody.

Me: Well, Honey.  The band is Queen and they did Bohemi..

J: But what are they talking about?

Crap.  Body-image, gender politics, Girl-Positive Power while I try to merge from the carpool lane to the “fast” lane.  Why won’t anyone let me in?

Me: Sweetie, you see…

J: Oh, it is so ironic!

Me: What?

J:  I was talking with my friends about Prince because he loved Purple.  I love Purple.  Well, I love all colors really.

Me: What about Queen?  What about Queen Latifah?

J:  Who?  Oh, Daddy!  Since there’s a Queen and a Prince.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a King.

Me:  Well, Sweetie.  I thought you’d never ask. There was a King.  His name was Elvis.  And, since we’re at a stoplight, I have control of the phone.

“You ain’t nuthin’ but a hound dog…”

J: Why do you do this to me?

Me:  Music you need to know.




The Last Word by the First Light

A clearly annoyed Isabella (she’s 10) on the drive in to school this morning:

Iz:  Look what time it is!  I’m gonna be late.  They’re gonna yell at me.

Me (also visibly annoyed):  And, do you know why you are going to be late?

Iz: It’s because you need to wake me up earlier than you do.

Me [with a little upward inflection]: Nooo. I woke you up plenty early enough.

Iz: Yeah.  Because you know I like to stay in bed after you wake me up.  And, sometimes I fall back asleep.  So, you should wake me up earlier.

Me: Let me get this straight.  I’m supposed to wake up even earlier so that you can fall back asleep.

Iz: Yeah, that seems fair.

Me [a rage is building]:  How is that fair?! Maybe you should get your butt out of bed, get dressed, not yell at me for 10 minutes because you can’t find your jacket that you left somewhere, make your own breakfast, make your own lunch, find your own missing library book, pack your own book bag and walk yourself the 14 miles to school!  Wouldn’t that be more fair?!

We finally arrive at the drop-off line, the girls gather their stuff.  Isabella has been quiet.  I think I got through to her.  Yelled some sense into her.

They get out of the car, Isabella looks at me through the window and says:

“No, that wouldn’t be more fair.  Bye.”

It Is a Far, Far Better Thing

On Tuesdays, I have a 45-minute gap between picking up Daughter One and Daughter Two from school.  This is a period during which I and ‘Daughter the First’ (the pre-teen) family-bond (a.k.a: kill time) by grabbing a pretzel at the mall, getting a dozen eggs, or (sometimes) settling up debts with my bookie.

Family time.

Today, we wasted/cherished that time at the Eagle Rock Library.

After perusing the aisles, Julianna (she’s 12) pulls Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities off of the shelf.

I do a double-take.

Of the two books I actually read in high school, this one was my favorite. (I still hate Thomas Hardy, scarred by the moors and the heaths and the sorrow.)

Julianna: I actually want to read this book.  Over Spring Break.  A Tale of Two Cities.

So, today is clearly the Best of Times. Quite, literally. (God, that’s funny…. Anyone? Literature fans? Best? Times? Crickets? No one?)

She’ll read it over Spring Break!

Bookie: You, wanna bet?

Heather Chandler (Bing!)

I’m heading home from the grocery store with Julianna (she’s 12) when we cross Chandler Blvd.

J: Every time we cross that street, I think of Heathers, The Musical.  I saw some of the songs on You Tube.

Me:  Really?  I think of Chandler from Friends.  You see, there was a TV show…

J: Dad stop. I hate when you take over the conversation.

Me:  Bygones.  (from Ally McBeal)…

J: Hrmmm!  Stop!  There’s a musical called Heathers.  The most popular girl was named Heather Chandler.  There were other girls named Heather, too.  They were all popular.  And, they were all kinda mean.

Me: Oh, yeah. Wasn’t there some movie?

J:  Yeah, there was a really old movie from the 1900s or something.

Me: I vaguely remember the 1900s.  I think it’s from the 1980s.

J: I saw part of that movie on You Tube.  It did not look good.

Me: Well, a 10th generation VHS dub that gets digitized countless times is going to look bad.  (Daddysplaining: It’s what I do.)

J:  Dad!  No!  Stop!…  It’s because cameras were new back then.

Me: In the ’80s?  The 1880s or the 1980s?  I think they knew about cameras in the 1980s.

J: I’m talking about color movie cameras. They didn’t understand how it worked, just yet.  So, the movies looked bad.  Don’t you remember that far back?

Me: Maybe not.  It was a long, long time ago.


J: I don’t think I’m a Heather.

Me: No, Honey.  You’re not.

J: Daaad!  Stop!  Now I want to be one!

Me: No you don’t.  Because, you’re not one.  And, you know it.

J:  Hrrmmmmmmmmm!


Not In My Key

One of the traditions of our household is that children can’t ride in the front seat until they turn 10.  Julianna went double digits a couple years ago, and now it is Isabella’s turn.

She got in the Prius, and checked all the mirrors and changed the radio and flipped the air vents.  The sun visor has a mirror!!  And a light?!  What fun!

A couple days later, we had to use the Sienna mini-van after gymnastics.  And, Isabella was perplexed.

Iz:  Daddy, what is that hanging from your wheel thingy?

Me: Steering wheel?

Iz: Yeah, steering whatever.  The thing hanging.

Me: You mean the key chain?

Iz: Is that new?

Me: A key?  No, honey.

Iz: But, where’s the button you push to start?

Me: No button.  There’s a key.  You turn it.  They’ve been doing it for over a hundred years.

Iz: But, if there’s no button, then how do you tell the car to go?

It’s going to be a long ride home.


Right Down Santa Claus Lane

Isabella is 9-years-old with an older sister and wise-beyond-their-years friends.

She knows that the only fat guy putting gifts under the tree this year will be Daddy.  She has actually said that: “fat guy,” “gifts,” “tree,” “Daddy.”  Words in that order.

But still, she can barely contain her excitement for Santa.  For weeks:  We’re 20 days from Christmas!  12 Days from Christmas!  4 Days Away!

She has developed a Classic case of Santasomnia©:  She can’t sleep because of the anticipation of Santa’s gift delivery on Christmas Day.

Tonight, December 21st, at 11:45pm she hijacks a groggy daddy in the kitchen.

Iz: Daddy!  I’m so excited.  It’s almost Christmas!  Snuggle with me!  I can’t sleep.

Me:  Really?  I already did that.  Crap.  Ok.

Into bed we crawl.  She rests her head on my shoulder.  Her eyes are wide open.  If you could, imagine a Norman Rockwell portrait. With me as the father. (stop laughing.)

Iz: Santa’s coming in a couple of days.  But, really, I know it’s you and Mommy.

Me: I never said that.

Iz:  But, is Santa lactose-intolerant?

Now, there’s a curve I didn’t expect.  Because, clearly it was aimed at Daddy.  It was a question that was partly inquisitive, and vaguely diagnostic.  Almost like a medical commercial (“Have you asked your doctor about LactoXmas?  See what LactoXmas® can do for you.”)

Me:  Um, no.  Honey, I’ve never heard that.  But, we can leave a glass of your special tummy milk out if you’d like.

Iz (sternly):  Ok, good.  I’d like that.  Now, as to the cookies.

Me:  “As to the cookies.”  Shouldn’t I get a lawyer?  How much TV are you watching, Sweetie-Pie?

Iz: As to the cookies:  Shouldn’t we leave out more cookies than he can actually eat so that there will be leftovers?  For, like, in the morning.  Idunno.

Me:  Ok, I should have bought cookie dough at the grocery store.  Your criticism is heard and registered.  You were there.  You maybe should have said something then.  In Aisle 5.  When you mentioned that Santa likes Chocolate Chip…  Oh, wait.  Crap.

Iz:  And how does “Santa” deliver gifts to 100,000 houses every second.  I mean how does he wrap them?  The paper, the tape.  What powers those reindeer?

Me: Your quotation marks on “Santa” are duly noted.  It all happens because of, wait for it…:  Christmas Magic.

I say these things as Isabella is clearly growing weary,  but…

She giggles with me in the most wink-wink way.  And I can’t help but scoop her up and squeeze tight. Because of Christmas Magic.

And, on Cue (and this is absolutely true):

Me: You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.  You make me Happy….

Iz: Like you used to sing.  Zzzzzzz.

Meet George Jetson

On the drive in to gymnastics, 9-year-old Isabella is philosophizing.

Iz:  Daddy, are there ever going to be flying cars?

Me:  Someday, I hope.  There used to be a cartoon, that…

Iz: Because, they would be very useful.

Me:  I suppose they woul…

Iz: Because, then you could fly straight to where you want to go.

Me: Without all the stopli…

Iz: They already have cars that drive themselves now.

Me: Ye…

Iz: But I think they are probably pretty dangerous.

(She ruminates.  I get a word in.)

Me:  Oh, I don’t know.  They’re probably better at driving than that idiot. (I point.)

Iz: Yeah, but there’s an idiot in the front seat of this car.

Me: I’m a good driver.

Iz: I didn’t say anything about your driving.

I look in the rear view mirror and see that she has that “I’m evil funny” smile slowly grow across her face.

Me: Hey, that’s not ni….

Iz: We’re there, Daddy.  Bye.  Drive safe.

Me: “Safely.”  Not “saf…”  (Slam.)

Clown Town

There’s a reason I keep floating this anemically followed blogspeck on the Internet.  It’s not for you.  And, it’s not for me.  It’s for my daughters.  If you find something worthwhile in this pile of posts, great.  But someone is writing about the years before my girls could see themselves   Unfortunately for them, that someone is me.  Daddy.

Here’s a post.  You’ll be entertained.

Middle of the night, I hear pitter-pat of little feet.

Isabella (she’s 9):  Mommy, mommy.  I had a nightmare.

Me: Daddy here.  Climb up, Honey.  What’s wrong, Sweetie?

Iz:  There was a clown.

Me: You can stop right there.  Nightmare enough.

Iz:  But he had a knife.  And he cut me!

She nestles closer and closer to me, Daddy.

Me: Don’t worry, Pumpkin.  There aren’t any clowns here, and I’ll protect you if one shows up.

Now, I am known as the snuggler of the family.  Got a hand that needs rubbing?  Gimme.  Feet?  I’ve got a rub two, get one free deal.  Finger tips, you have no idea…  And, those shoulders, Miss Gymnastics. Toes.  Famous for my toes.  (Totally wholesome, btw).

So, between my 20 minute bursts of sleep, there’s rubbing or scratching or massaging. For hours.

By daybreak, I have protected her from that evil clown.  And given her a $200 Vegas massage.  Plus tip.  And yet.  She’s asleep.  Won’t wake uo.  (Man, I’m good).  I guess, no tip.

Me:  Honey.  Sweetie.  Got to get up and get ready for school.


Mommy:  Let’s get going.

Iz pulls up the covers.  “Nooo.”

Me (a bit more stern):  Isabella, time for breakfast. What do you want?


Now, I have taken some liberties with the narrative here, but this is typical of every morning.


Me: Where?


As I said, typical.

Me:  Totally different.  When you figure it out, let me know.  We need to leave in 30 minutes.



Part II.  (Yeah, there’s a Part II, Baby)

Somehow, we manage to get in the car for school. (And, the “somehow” involves a combination of threats, rewards, and get your-ass-in-the-cars.  Did I mention threats?)

We’re late.  Big Fat Friggin’ Surprise.

How’s everybody’s blood pressure doing?  Mine is rising just proof-reading this.  (It has a happy ending, don’t worry.)

Meanwhile, on the way to school:

Julianna (she’s 12): I want to pick the song!

Iz: No, I want to pick it!

In my day, the DJ picked the song.  That was how you learned about awesome music, like The Who, or shitty music like A-Ha.  You learned it and lived it. 3 minutes at a time.  Plus commercials.

Iz:  Fine!  I didn’t sleep well.  And I have a headache.  And my stomach hurts, too.

We eventually make it to school, a 30 minute drive (There’s no such thing as a school bus for a charter school.)

About an hour after drop-off, my phone rings.

Iz:  Daddy, my head hurts.  And my tummy hurts.

Me: Ok.  Do you want me to get you?  Or can you stay?

Iz (in the most pathetic voice):  Get me.

Daddies have three modes:  Because I said so.  I’ll never do that again.  and, Get Out of My Way.

Pick 3 wins.

I race to get her (did you notice my cape flapping out of the car door?)

I Sign her out, put my arm on her shoulder, and lead her to the car.

Me: Honey, what’s wrong?

Iz: I just feel sick.

We get home, she snuggles with Mommy, and I begin writing this post.

The bedroom door opens.

Mommy:  She wants you.

Me:  Me?

Mommy:  I dunno.

I snuggle up.  She falls asleep.  And whispers:

“No clowns.”

We snuggle.  She sleeps.  Eventually…

Iz: I want Mommy.  Clown.  Zzzzz….

Veterans Day

It’s Veterans Day.  Salute to the Women and Men of our Armed Forces, protecting this land of opportunity.
Speaking of opportunity, my (occasionally) delightful daughter Isabella (she’s 9) has a special Holiday schedule gymnastics workout this morning. At 9:30.   On her day off from school.
She’s being a Grumpenstein. Her hip hurts, her knees hurt, her shoulders hurt. Deal with it. I say, welcome to life. There’s no real injury.  And, admittedly, bullying is wrong. But, Jesus, grow up. Life, honey, Life… (Is that my out loud voice?) Shit.
You have no idea what it takes to defend our country.  People die.  Lots of people die.  So, we honor the people who protect your right to go to gymnastics on a beautiful Friday morning in November.
Isabella:  Can I have Lucky Charms?
Me:  You’ve had them every single day since you were born.  And today, we honor them.

Drive Time Music Lesson

On the drive in to school (about 30 minutes) Julianna (12) and Isabella (9) commandeer my Playlist.  And they insist on what the kids listen to these days.

Julianna: Dad, I hate Rock and Roll.


J: I just want to listen to music that kids like.

Me: You know, once upon a time, kids went to jail for listening to Rock and Roll…

I exaggerate. Slightly.

J: But you’re old.

Smacked down by a 7th grader.  So, we listen to a bunch of songs “kids like.”  Then, there’s a grown-up song that they like.

Me: Wait, that’s an actual grown-up song.

“If I Die Young,” by The Band Perry.

Isabella:  Why is that a grown-up song.

Me: Lots of reasons. First, she’s not singing about makeup and high-heels like Demi Lovato.  It’s a Country song.  The music of your people.

Iz: I thought that was salsa.

Me: That too.

J: What makes it Country?  I love Country.

Me: Lots of things. They way she sings, more nasal.  The harmonies.  The fiddle and banjo.  The sentimentality. The pickup truck.

Iz:  Santa what?

Me: Sentimentality.  Really emotional words.

“If I die young, bury me in Satin.  Lay me down on a bed of roses.”

Me: Yeah, that qualifies as sentimental.

J: So, kids shouldn’t listen to this?

Me:  Um, no. I would prefer that you listen to this over, say, Ariana Grande.

J: But I love Ariana Grande!

Me: I know Sweetie, and you’ll grow out of it.

J: Daaaad!  Stop!

Iz: Daddy, isn’t salsa a tomato sauce stuff that you dip your chips in.

Me: That too.  And music.  Oh, look, we’re at school.  Get out. Quickly.