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?

Saturday Is Milk Duds Day

My wife is out town dealing with Family Issues.  Big time stuff.

So, at home…   It is by definition: Daddy/Daughter Fun Time.

I forgot to un-set my alarm on Saturday.  So, Yay! It’s 6:00 a.m.  On Saturday.  I’m awake and UP for no damn reason.

Shit.   Crap.  Saturday.

And, I have no one to yell at.  They’re all still asleep. Even, the damn dogs are still sleeping.

So, I’ll stare at my screen.  “O, Internet bring me wisdom.”  (Internet:  Ha!  You’re kidding, right?).

Eventually, the first child wakes:

Me: What do you want for breakfast?

Child One:  Stop Yelling at Me!!

Yell?  (hint, she’s 10)

She plops on the sofa, covering her head with a blanket.

Child One:  Daddy!  I’m hungry!

Because 90 seconds is a long dang time.

Then the other child crawls out of her pre-teen soup:

Me:  Hello.

Child Two:  I hate you.

I am paraphrasing all of this, of course.  Lots of words are said.  But, these are the things I hear.

Me:  Honey…  You are here because of me…

(Also, Mommy. Largely Mommy.  Me too, though:  Please don’t think biology.  Because, you know, oftentimes Dads get shorted.)

Hang on…   Child One is chewing something.

Me:  What are you eating?

Child One:  Milk Duds.

Me: “Milk” chocolate is not milk. I’m a Good Father!  (say the voices in my head.)

Child Two:  Why does she get candy when I don’t?!  That’s not fair!

Crap…  9:00 am

The day is young.

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!


The Tutor Queen

Julianna (she’s 12):  Daddy, the school sent me to help a 3rd grader in math.

Me: That’s great, Honey.  You’re a Tutor.

J: A “what” now?

(Sub-story follows)


J: And, that’s how you get the answer.  X minus Y.

3rd Grader:  Wow!  That was so easy!

J: Yeah, when you know how to do it, it’s not that hard.  Carry the one…

3rd Grader: Thanks.  You must be so popular.

J (aww shucks):  No, not really.

3rd Grader:  Oh, that’s right.

Continuing:  You can’t be popular AND smart.


I must interject:

Me:  Nooooo!  That is absolutely NOT true.

J: Yeah, kinda it is.  It’s on TV.  The Popular People are dumb, and the Smart People are unpopular.

My blood literally boils (Obviously, it does not boil because I understand the meaning of the word “literally.”  Because I am smart.  Coincidentally, unpopular)

Me: Look, Honey…  Mommy is extremely smart and everyone loves her.  I mean, come on!

J:  Yeah but, you have no friends.

Me:  That’s not entirely true.

J: And, you’re not smart at all.

Me:  How did I become a subject of this…?

Isabella (she’s 10, from the back seat):  And, also.  You’re fat.


J:  Good one.

Me: No.  Not.  Fat people can be smart.


Classical Music

On the drive home from school.  The radio plays Adele and Katy Perry…

Julianna (she 12):  Dad, can’t we listen to something else?

Me:  Like what?

J: The Classical station.  Because, If I have to play the violin, I should listen that music.

I flip the station.

J:  Is that Beethoven?

Me:  No, Bach.

J: Sounds the same to me.

Me:  Oh, Honey.  I vastly different.

J: Wait, that’s a harpsichord!

There’s a tear in my eye.

Vegas Mega Meet

It’s gymnastics competition time of year, again.  So, let me open my wallet.

The first big meet is in Las Vegas.  They call it a MEGA Meet because there will be hundreds of competitors. Dozens of teams.  And many, many gymnastics Moms.  I will be one of them.  (In spirit, at least.)

Isabella (she’s 10) is excited, but the scheduling just sucks.  It happens over the weekend that Daddy/Daughter Fun Time’s mother is organizing the Academy Awards annual reception co-sponsored by the Society of Composers and Lyricists.  (You know, with Sting and Lin-Manuel Miranda and others…)

Also:  Isabella will need to miss a day and-a-half of school.

Iz:  Daddy, I just want you to know that I am Ok with missing school.

Me:  Really?  Shocking.  Let Mommy and me talk about it.

Iz:  Ok, but just so you know, I’m totally fine with missing school.  We’re just, like, learning stuff.

Now, long-time readers of this blog know that Isabella is quite accomplished as a gymnast.  And, they keep moving her up the competitive food chain.  Her coaches warn:  “Don’t expect to score high this time because everything is tougher now.”

So, Mommy and I discuss the logistics, the travel, the expense, the injuries, the threat of disappointment shown on a 10-year-old’s face.

Sounds like fun.  We’re in!

Iz:  Yay!  But, I’ll have to miss a day of my dear, dear school.

Me:  Oh?…  Or, we can also not go.

Iz: Well, when you put it like that…  Yay!  Vegas!

Crocodile tears.

So, Thursday mid-after school, Daddy/Daughter Fun Time rolls with Isabella and Daddy (Me!) in tow.  Mommy holds down the Oscars fort, and swings us incredibly cheap hotel accommodations at Circus Circus (Isabella’s favorite Vegas place.  Me, not so much.  But it’s her weekend.)

Friday morning, Isabella is nervous. She’s now competing on a bigger stage, against seasoned competitors, in a new class.

First up:  Floor exercise.  9.500. Gold.  Vault: 8.900.  Gold.  Bars: 9.750. Silver.  Beam. 9.025. Gold.

All-Around: 36.175. (You guessed it):  Gold.

Her coaches tell/threaten/challenge her, if you break 36.0 again, you’ll have to move up another level.

Mommy and I couldn’t be more proud of her.  Her 12-year-old sister: “Whatever.”

The drive home was mostly uneventful.  In fact, we got home before Mommy did.

And then the Oscars happened, and we didn’t know what to believe.