Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Pictures






Seeing this picture almost makes me feel guilty for the post I left on my Facebook page awhile back wondering why they can't come up with Flinstones Chewable Valiums for Children®

Almost..

Sunday, December 7, 2008

John Redeux

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay him down in the middle of the day and take unto himself strings of bloody miniature light bulbs (yea, more numerous are they than all the sands of the seas) to test, though his eyesight fail and his temper be rendered incandescent, that his offspring may decorate the tree.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Touching Father-Daughter Moment #147

So I’m in kitchen in the process of making Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey is in the oven and the pumpkin pie is cooling. Stuffing, green beans and gravy won’t need to be started for awhile yet. My helper Moiya and I are sharing some cocoa and I’m suddenly filled with paternal affection. I look at her fondly and say “You know what I’m thankful for at Thanksgiving?” She asks what and I say “You.”

Moiya thinks about this for a minute and replies “You know what I’m thankful for, Daddy?”

What, sweetheart?”

“Mommy.”

“Ah.”

(Sigh) “Ok.. and you.”

I love being a parent.

Lessons

If I had had the usual nine months to prepare for fatherhood instead of two days, I like to think that I’d have been somewhat better adapted to the strange new world in which I suddenly found myself. I might for instance have known what an “up-the-back” diaper was. I might not have needed sedation after the first time I cleaned poo off my child and my wife then patiently explained to me that I still needed to root through and cleanse my infant daughter’s ‘naughty bits’. I might have known that rubber nipples come in different sizes which you will have to know beforehand when purchasing them (though in truth, nothing could have prepared me for walking in on my wife and her mother discussing the need to boil their nipples).

But I really rather thought that after four years – until the onset of puberty at least – that I was now a seasoned professional and as such, somewhat more inured to such surprises.

But then, I had never painted nails before. My daughter would usually return from a weekend at Nana’s house sporting dainty pink-painted nails. But little girls being what they are (i.e. Like ferrets on speed) the polish never really tended to stay on for long. And the day finally came when Moiya wanted to know if Daddy could do her nails for her. Daddy, being a chump, said yes.

The following are a series of observations which I offer up for the benefit of the similarly innocent who come after me:


  1. Nail Polish: Nail polish comes in bottles the approximate size of an adult human’s thumb, which are constructed of glass so thick that you could drive a car over one without noticeable damage to the bottle. This results in an interior capacity of approximately 3 drops of actual fluid. There are 1,348,927 different shades of nail polish, of which 12,527 appear to be the exact same color to the unaided human (male) eye. Nail polish names are not permitted by law to in any way help differentiate or describe the contents of the bottle, so that “Frosty Plum Orchid” could be any shade from neon purple to jet black. And lastly, nail polish takes roughly 1000 man-hours to produce and is therefore priced only slightly higher by weight than gold.


  2. Movement: If a small girl turns her head to look at something, her foot will move, smacking your hand and sending a stripe of nail polish halfway across the upper portion of her foot. Small girls turn their heads to look at something approximately 32 times per minute. Due to a little-known quantum-level neuro-muscular connection that connects every portion of a child’s body to every other, her feet will also move if she speaks, points, blinks, or thinks. In fact, any bodily movement however small will set off a spasm of palsied movement on the foot scene. You have as much hope of doing this neatly as you have of putting little paper party hats on a litter of piglets, and your only chance of success lies with a drop cloth (large) and lots of masking tape.


  3. Scale: Oh .my. dear. LORD! Have you ever actually LOOKED at a child’s toenails? I mean, really looked at them as a paintable surface? They are the size of pins! Some of them are actually smaller than the nail polish brush you are attempting to paint them with!

Other than that, it's all pretty much a piece of cake.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Popcorn Nights

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
~Dylan Thomas~


Moiya has never gone to bed easily. It’s odd, being adopted how much of a seeming amalgam she is of my ex-wife and I. Like me and my Father before me, she resists letting go of the day and has from infancy. I never lost that tendency (I’m writing this long after I should have been in bed), and I doubt that she will either.

So when I say that.. since the divorce Moiya has been difficult to put to bed, you should understand that I’m not referring to the usual. I have some difficulty in getting that across to folks in conversation. I get all sorts of well-meaning but pointless advice; “read to her”, “rub her back”, “just walk out of the room”, “rock her”. And in my unkinder moments, I want to ask if perhaps I have “MORON” stamped on my head in large letters that I was previously unaware of. If this was normal insomnia and normal solutions worked, I’d be using them. But it’s as though some kindly neighbor had asked Linda Blair’s Mum during the Exorcist “Have you tired Epsom salts, dear?”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The summer of 2007 was a rough one for Moiya. Her mother had moved out in January. Then by July we had sold off the only home she had ever known and left the woods and all the critters she so loved to live in an apartment in the city. And on the surface, Moiya didn’t seem to react much to any of this. And that worried me. Because my daughter is a very bright, very intuitive, and almost preternaturally observant child. Moiya was not talking about any of the changes in her life despite our efforts to draw her out. But with Moiya it’s what she doesn’t say that’s important.

Then one day the dam broke. Starting in August, Moiya simply would not go to bed, and responded each night to bedtime with violent, towering rages; screaming, howling fits of such furious anger that it scarcely seemed like my child.

And nothing calmed them; Appeals to reason, time out, rocking, spanking – nothing. If I gave in on one point, she would search for another. If there was nothing to fight about, she’d invent something. “I want my bear!” she’d scream. And once I gave it to her, she’d throw it across the room. She’d scream for me to get out, and if I left the room, the screaming would rise to a crescendo of terrified pleading for me to return. Yet on my return, she’d scream for me to leave again. How we kept from a visit by CPS I’ll never know.

After a time, I could see them coming. We'd bathe and get our jammies on. We'd rock and read, brush our teeth and take our vitamins. And somewhere in all that Moiya’s eyes would take on a sly, almost feral look, and I would know that she was searching for an excuse to blow up again.

And she only did it with me. While I was nightly losing my mind with grief and worry, I found that she was exhibiting none of these fits with her Mother, at school, or with Jacquelyn’s mom, Sheila. Just with me. Sheila’s opinion was that Moiya felt safe to act out with me, as I was the one who hadn’t left.. that she could do whatever without fear of abandonment. It’s a (coldly) comforting thought, but I’m unsure. At times I wondered if she wasn’t testing me – trying to see if, when she crossed a threshold of bad behavior, I might not also leave. So during some of the most brutal nights I would hold Moiya, screaming and kicking, and tell her that no matter how ugly she behaved, I was not going away. Even now that things are for the most part better, when I’m angry I try always to make a point of saying that I’m angry with her, but that I still love her and I always will. She doesn’t react, but I know she listens. Moiya always listens. And sometimes I hear her same the same words to her dolls when she thinks I’m not around.

I finally reached the conclusion that Moiya wanted to be spanked. I don’t know why, and I’m not happy about it. But it is what I observed. The only thing that would calm her down, after hours of shrieking, was if I turned her over my knee and gave her one good smack on the rear. Then she’d cry, I’d hold her in my arms and rock her, and within minutes she’d have snuggled down and drifted off to sleep.

Sometimes in the interval between the spanking and sleep, I’d get a little glimpse inside. One night as I rocked her, she wailed into my shoulder “I want my MAMA!!” I observed that I was sure she did. “But,” I said “Mama wouldn’t let you act like this any more than I will.” Moiya shook her head. “I want Mama.. and you.. and our old house.”

Ah.

I finally discovered that however distasteful I found it, Moiya was not going to let me get by with anything short of a spanking. Once she got that look in her eye, if I resolved whatever she had chosen to rage about amicably, she’d simply seize on something else. And she'd keep working until she’d managed to do something which simply could not go unanswered. So usually, simply giving her one whack on the rump at the first sign of trouble resulted in a prompt clearing of the thunderclouds and peaceful sleep (as opposed to hours of heart-wrenching turmoil).

And so I spelled out the new rules clearly. “You will no longer behave in this manner in this house. You will get a warning, and a chance to rectify your behavior, then it’s spanking time.” Since that time The Troubles, as I call them, have abated. We have our bad nights, but not so often, and not so bad as the were that first, awful year.

I’ve tried hard since Jacquelyn left to keep Moiya’s life in as regular a pattern as I can, feeling that with predictability comes comfort. So we have our rituals along with our little games. Sunday is grocery shopping and Bubblebath Night. Thursday is Tumblebus Day. But Saturday is our special release from the cares of the week. We go to the library, where Moiya picks out three video tapes and five books, which she checks out with her very own library card. We like getting the VHS tapes because Moiya knows how to operate the videotape deck and doesn’t need Daddy’s help to view the tapes like she does DVDs. (A few weeks ago, I was upstairs getting myself ready and when I went to prod Moiya into getting dressed and getting her things together, discovered that she was already dressed, had gathered up her books and put them in the knapsack that Aunt Marci had given her. And that she had rewound all of the videotapes before putting them back in their cases. I was stunned. I’m often stunned.) Sometimes there are puppet shows at the library. And we always sit for awhile and do puzzles, which Moiya is getting quite good at.

And Saturday is Popcorn Night.

After dinner we make a bowl of popcorn, break out the sleeping bags, and camp out in the middle of the living room (sometimes Moiya’s room, but usually the living room) and watch videos and eat popcorn until sleep comes. It isn’t a school night, so within reason Moiya gets to stay up late on Saturday night. Usually all the buddies have to join us as well. Moiya drags all the stuffed animals down, along with every spare towel and blanket in the place, so she can carefully tuck them all in. A favored few sit with us between the sleeping bags, but most lie dotted here and there about the room. Simon usually lays her bulk across Moiya’s feet and sleeps, raising a reproachful kitty eye to quiet us if we get too loud.

And we talk. Usually about silly stuff, in between mouthfuls of popcorn which we steal from one another’s bowls. Sometimes about the films. I’m finding that Moiya misses little, and her comments demonstrate an understanding of the nuances in the action I would not have thought possible in a four-year-old. Sometimes she has pointed out little details that I had missed. And once, out of nowhere in the middle of a Strawberry Shortcake musical number, Moiya just sighed a little and said “It’s hard living in two houses, Daddy”

Like I said.. always thinking.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Persistence of Memory

We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We’ll do the best we know.
We’ll build our house, and chop our wood
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow.
~Candide~

I made dinner last night with my last jar of the tomatoes. And it occurred to me as I opened it what a time capsule it was. I could still smell the lovely scent of the garden and the aroma of the freshly picked tomatoes as strongly as the day I picked them and put them up into jars.

They say that smell is the thing most closely linked in the brain with memory. And the miraculously fresh scent of home-grown tomato in my apartment kitchen brought back such a vivid sense of another time and place. I recalled that those tomatoes were the ones I planted the summer I spent running back and forth from Lanesville, Indiana to Lawrenceburg, Kentucky to see my dear wife and newborn little girl. We were unable to bring Moiya home for the longest time after the adoption, as she was born in one state and we lived in another. The paperwork between the two states dragged on for months with me shuttling between the two locations. One of the few methods I had to work off the stress of those times was toiling in the garden in the early mornings, and the retiring indoors to work on the nursery when the afternoon heat grew too great. I was so determined that everything was going to be perfect for my girls when they finally were free to come home.

As luck would have it, we had a great harvest that summer. I put as much up as I could so they would keep to share with Jacquelyn whenever the lawyers finally said that we could be a family again. I cleaned and packed tomatoes by the bushel and put them into mason jars. And last night I emptied the last of those jars.

The house and garden are long gone now. And the marriage and the wife.

And I sat in the kitchen and pondered once again on how very strange life is.

There is a common behind the apartment houses - a long strip of grass mostly used by folks to exercise their dogs. I noticed that there wasn’t much grass growing in the space directly outside our back door. There’s a strip about 10-12 feet wide and maybe 3 feet deep between our back stoop and the air conditioner that I decided to co-opt it as our “garden”. I figured the guys who mow wouldn’t mind having a bit fewer square feet of weeds to whack. So I bought a roll of garden edging which I hammered into the ground (along a length of yarn strung between two popsicle sticks.. got to do this right) and then poured a few bags of cheap bark mulch over the dead grass. I set out the old metal lounge my folks had on their back porch when I was a kid, got the gas grill out of storage, coaxed my Hibiscus back to life, set out the bird feeders. Et Voila!

It’s not much. Certainly it's not the gardens and woods we left behind. But sometimes illusion will suffice when reality will not. When the weather was cool this summer Moiya and I would retire to “our back yard” and play catch. Or I would lounge in the chair and admire the clouds while she ran off the leftover energy of the day. At one point a family of starlings built a nest in a cranny of the electrical meters bolted to the wall. We’d retire to the kitchen and watch through the windows as Mama starling carried grubs to her hungry babies, while the cardinals, finches, wrens, and the occasional hummingbird came for the food Moiya and I set out for them.

And the Hibiscus and Mandevilla provide big, glorious flowers all summer long. I’ll sometimes let Moiya pick one just for the pleasure of the look on her face as she gently explores them with eyes and fingers, wondering at the softness of the petals and the beauty of their form. We keep bouquets indoor a lot in the summer, though not for the sight or the scent. Moiya, like her Daddy before her, likes to gather clovers and dandelions and whatever else is pretty to her eye when we are out, which she gives to me as a present. We keep them in water on the sill just for the sheer wonder of it. The sight of them makes us both smile. And when the dandelions has gone to fluff, we go outside to puff on them and watch as they sail off on the summer air.

As I say. It’s not much. But it will do.

Except for the smell of tomatoes.

Night of the Living Dad

Moiya’s a little confused on gender at the moment and so little oddities tend to creep into our conversation. “This is Andrew,” Moiya will say, holding up a doll in pink. “She’s a boy.” She has another little girl doll, also in pink, which she has dubbed "Baby Jesus". (Cross-dressing Jesus was not a subject covered in Catechism in my day, but perhaps things have changed.) “Some people are boys” Moiya remarked apropos of nothing one day last week as we were getting into the car. “And some are persons.” She has a point.

But by far the strangest pronouncement to come out of my offspring’s head of late is her announced intention to raise my father from the dead.

Moiya has always been a bit intrigued with my Dad, whose picture hangs in the living room. One night we were playing in her room prior to getting ready for bed and Moiya was having a pretend conversation on the upstairs phone. After a while I heard her say "Just a minute" whereupon she handed me the phone and said “It’s your Daddy. Talk to him.” It was a weird moment and I was a wee bit cautious when I said "Hello?" But I've gotten more used to it since.

About two weeks back, I was sitting in the living room and Moiya was looking at Dad’s picture. She’s struggling with the concept of death at the moment. She knows Dad is dead, and I’ve told her that the old roll-top desk she likes to sit at in my room was once his and will one day be hers after I am gone. (I usually hasten to add that this will not transpire until she’s an old, old lady).

So she looked at Dad’s picture and asked “Do you miss your Daddy?” I assured her that I did. Very much.

That’s ok,” she chirped. “I’m gonna make him not dead.”

“Umm.. what?”

“Next time we go to his house, I’ll make him not dead.”

I told her that I’d be glad to take her to the cemetery and she was welcome to give it a whirl. What the heck. No harm in trying.

So a few days later, Moiya is looking at my shoes and comments that they need fixing. I agreed that yes, they did need a spot of glue on the soles.

“Well, when I make your daddy undead” she assured me ‘He’ll fix them for you.”

So.. Jesus is the son of a Jewish carpenter and I’m apparently the son of a zombie cobbler. Who knew?

And then last week, as we were driving, Moiya informed me with great solemnity, “Daddy, you’re going to die.” So I said that yes, someday I would die as all things do, and braced myself to be all warm and reassuring. “Uh-huh. You’re gonna die Friday” she continued “and I’m gonna get your desk.”

I love our car conversations.

Moiya went on to reassure me that after I was dead, she would give me her favorite necklace to wear, but that I’d have to give it back when I got not dead. I asked if she was going to make me not dead. And she exclaimed with the long-suffering tone of one addressing the feeble-minded “NO Daddy! I’m already making YOUR Daddy not dead. I can only do ONE!”

Silly me. I asked who was going to make me not dead, and Moiya suggested that I could ask her Mommy to do it.

I think I could be in some trouble there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fireflies and Carousels

This is a short note I wrote to myself earlier in the summer which I was unable to post at that time. It dates to late August

I have written before in these pages about ‘perfect moments’; those fractions of time where the universe halts, time and space become irrelevant, and a feeling of perfection, of calm delight takes over the soul. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a few in my life. And each one is burned forever in my memory. Here’s how I described one such recently in a letter to my cousin and guardian angel Betty, when she said she hadn’t seen a firefly in years and wondered where they had all gotten to:

"You should come to Indiana than. Back when I still had Innisfree, one of my greatest joys at night after I put Moiya to bed was to go out and sit on the deck in the dark and watch the hundreds of fireflies. On a few really dark nights, when the join between the dark of the tree line and the dark of the night was difficult to discern, there was a magical illusion where the twinkling of the bugs and the twinkling of the stars became one and left me with the sensation of floating in space. It only happened a few times, but I will cherish it always."


I mention this because a had another, albeit brief one two weeks ago. Moiya and I went to the Kentucky State Fair again this year. She’s been asking since the last one, and I’ve been promising. And “ a Daddy always keeps his promises” as I’ve told her. So we went.

We saw puppet shows and acrobats and bunnies and cows and horsies and Lamas and chickens and ducks. We rode rides (not ready for even little roller coasters yet, we found out) and the train (which is what Moiya calls the tractor-pulled shuttle that circles round the fair the better to deliver patrons to the parking lots. It is quite her favorite ride). And we ate lots of awful, greasy, sugary fair food. It was nice.

And we spent our last ride tickets on the big, old-fashioned carousel, with it’s painted horses. Moiya has always loved carousels. And I have grown to love them because of her. And as we turned, the big horse slowly rising and falling, with Moiya grinning madly and waving at everyone and everything, I looked at my child and was utterly, utterly happy. I haven’t been happy for rather a long time. But just for a moment, all the troubles vanished, and all the little pieces of life slotted nicely into place like some sort of Chinese puzzle-box. And the world was perfect. Just for a moment, life was so very good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Population Increase (addendum)

I forgot.. some days Moiya peppers all these imaginary (and not so imaginary) friends with detailed questions about their lives and I have to think fast on my feet. She usually wants to know what Mr. Sun is having for breakfast - and offers to share hers. She wants to know how their day was and what they have done, what color their bedrooms are and what they like to do.

But my favorite was the day she asked Mrs. Sun if she had armpits.

That one is likely to haunt me for awhile.

Population Increase

Some while back, in the previous incarnation of this blog, I mentioned that Moiya has a range of imaginary friends, for whom I have to provide voices and personalities.

I started the whole thing one day in an effort to amuse her by making my hand ‘talk’, a la Senior Wences. That one character (Handy) became two (his twin, Fred, who insists that they look nothing at all alike) which became three (Duck, who can’t talk, but who eats continually) and which became four when we began talking to the Sun.

That was some months ago. We now have a vast ensemble of personalities. Handy, Fred and Duck are still around, as is Mr. Sun. There is also now a Baby Sun (Sunny) and Mrs. Sun, as well as Luna (the moon), James Bear, Soft Bear, and Puppy. There’s her stuffed horse and his Daddy horse. Then it just gets weird as she begins changing natural laws: We now have Simon (our actual cat – who can apparently hear us talking no matter how far from home we may be) and Bunny (a stuffed rabbit at her mother’s house I’ve never even seen) and Bunny’s Mama. Recently I’ve had to add our actual dog, Wicker (who also lives at her mother’s house). And I have to provide individual voices for them all. Moiya knows each by sound and will correct me if the wrong ‘person’ answers (“No, Mr. Sun.. not you. I was talking to Handy”). Usually the discussions are between one entity and Moiya, but sometimes I get sucked into multi-part conversations which leave me feeling Schizophrenic. Last week I had to conduct a discussion between Mr. Sun and the Clouds – mediated by Moiya – as to who got to use the sky that day.

I draw the line on some things. I refuse to ‘be’ Moiya’s Mommy or Mommy’s boyfriend, or (in the weirdest request) Moiya herself. And I said no to doing the Horse Mommy, as I had used all the the vocal ‘horse’ range I had already.

One nice thing though – now that Moiya is a little older, she’s starting to help out and assume the voices of at least some of the incidental characters herself (especially when Dad has simply had enough and flat refuses in the middle of rush our to come up with yet another damned bear voice (because they all have to be different, yet identifiably “bear”). On occasion this leads to the surreal circumstance of conversations between myself, Handy, Sun, and Duck with Moiya voicing both herself as well as the several stuffed critters she’s lugged along for the journey.

Every morning, as soon as Daddy will let her (“For pity sake child.. let me at least get to the main road!!”), Moiya has to greet Mr. Sun and bid goodnight to Luna. I think Mr. Sun at this point is her favorite, as she’ll some days spend the whole thirty minute ride in to school making up songs to sing to him. On the other hand, you can’t take the Sun indoor with you, so once we are home Handy and Fred regain their status. (Especially at bath time. Handy will have none of it, but Fred usually lets Moiya give him a bath).

And if it has been a good day at school and Moiya has gotten a gold star, Moiya has to tell everyone. Every. Single. One. And they all have to be excited.

Some days, I think I’m going to end up in therapy. But you know.. I’m going to miss them all when they’re gone. I really am.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Tale of the Flying Mermaid


I was a theatrical costumer for a quarter of a century, so my daughter’s Halloween costume is a big deal for me. I’ve been making them for her since she was born and was planning this year’s costume well in advance. When she was younger she was pretty ambivalent about the whole thing and Daddy could do whatever he pleased. But last year Moiya had matured enough to take an interest and have ideas of her own. She was in a Wizard of Oz kick at the time and wanted to be Glinda the Good Witch of the South. It didn’t turn out quite as well as the Renaissance Italian gown I made when she was two, but with what I had to spend, it was ok.

So as I was trying to schedule some trips to swatch fabrics I asked her what she wanted to be this year. And found that she wanted to be a mermaid.

Hum. Okay. So I began researching and combing the web for ideas, gathering images and starting preliminary sketches. Three weeks passed and I continued to ask Moiya what she wanted to be for Halloween. She continued to insist that she wanted to be a mermaid. On Friday evening, I told her that we were going to go and look at material for her mermaid costume the following morning.

“I want to be Tinkerbelle”

“Wh.. what?”

“I want to be Tinkerbelle.”

“Tinkerbelle? Tinkerbelle?? Like.. the fairy Tinkerbelle?”

“Uh-huh”

“I thought you wanted to be a mermaid!”

(pause) “I want to be a Tinkerbelle Mermaid

Well .. I have to admit, that stopped me. But not for long. I started trying over the next few weeks to design a mermaid with wings without much luck. I kept asking periodically is she was sure she really really wanted to be a Tinkerbelle mermaid and yes, she said, she really really did.

Until she suddenly really really didn’t. Then she just wanted to be Tinkerbelle. "Because Tinkerbelle is pretty."

Funny thing though.. I started noticing the appearance of new character in our nightly readings. Moiya doesn’t let me read to her anymore. She does the reading and I and Pirate Dog just sit and listen (here's the back story from the old blog). Not that Moiya can actually read (yet). But she looks at the pictures in the books and makes up stories to go with them. There’s a kind of lovely surreal quality to them that Salvador Dali would have appreciated. Anyway… as she’s got something like 30,000 books, it was inevitable that at least some of them would be Disney. And some of the Disney would have pictures of Arial, the Little Mermaid. But it Moiya’s stories, she is always The Flying Mermaid. I’m guessing that the blue of the undersea scenes is interpreted in her mind as sky. Who knows?

Over time we had lots of stories where the Flying Mermaid made an appearance. And usually she played a sort of deus ex machina role:

The ponies were all dead. And that made them sad. But the little pigs were hiding in the castle. And they were scared, ‘cause the dragon was coming. And they said ‘Oh no, here comes the dragon.’ And the dragon said ‘I will burn down your castle and I will eat you'.

And then came the Flying Mermaid!!!


And the Flying Mermaid made everything better with her amazing powers. She banished dragons and healed wounds and restored the vanquished. She diced and sliced and made julienne fries.

I was actually getting kind of excited about doing the Flying Mermaid costume once I got all the back story. But then of course, we had to have a Tinkerbelle costume.

And then disaster struck.

My daughter informed me that wanted a store-bought costume.

I’m sorry to say, Daddy did not take this especially well. (For "I want a store-bought costume" try substituting "I want to be a crack-addict" and you'll have about the right idea). I argued. I pouted. I wheedled and I stormed and I sulked. For a week. But to no avail. The biggest concession I could manage was to get her to promise that I could do her costume next year. But this year she wanted a store-bought Tinkerbelle. Fine. Just... FINE.

So we began our Tinkerbelle hunt. Initially Moiya wanted the costume she saw at our local grocery, but Daddy was having none of that. Daddy counted up his pennies and we went out to a Halloween store. “Look honey.. you could be a pirate. You want to be a pirate?”

“No.”

“How about a princess”

“No.”

(Sigh) “Okay. Here’s Tinkerbelle”

“I don’t like that one.”

“Wha.. what do you mean, ‘you don’t like it’? It’s nicer that the one at Kroger. Why don’t you like this one?”

“I just don’t like it.”

And so it went. From one store to another, all across the town we went examining one Tinkerbelle costume after another and finding them all wanting. Finally, as Daddy was starting to think that the entire parenthood thing had been a really bad idea, we found our costume. It actually wasn’t Tinkerbelle, but one of her friends (When did Tinkerbelle get friends??) and was all in rose tones rather than the requisite green. But I sure as hell wasn’t going to say anything. She was happy and I was anxious to get out and get home. “You’re sure?” I asked. “I can NOT return this. It is costing CASH MONEY I don’t have. Be SURE.” Moiya said that she was, so we paid for our purchase and went home.

I tried the costume on her and found that it fit well enough. I made a few minor tucks and it was obvious that Moiya felt beautiful. And really, what more can a Daddy ask for than that? So I took it off her, put it on a hanger and was in the process of putting it up in the living room closet when a voice came from behind me.

“I want to be Hanna Montana”



I froze. I.Just.Froze. My mouth was open and moving, but no sound was coming out. Finally I turned with a roar to rip my child a new anal orifice..

And found her rolling on the ground laughing. Silent, helpless, belly-aching laughter.

“No, no” she finally gasped “I want to be A FLYING MERMAID!

Dear God, I thought. She’s got my sense of humor.

Welcome to the House of the Flying Mermaid.

Invitation to the Dance

The other morning, we were running late (as usual). Getting Moiya to hurry to do anything is like trying to herd cats. Like her Daddy, she’s not a morning person, and I found long ago that the only way to get her up at 5:45 a.m. without tears and drama is to get her laughing. So we have this long morning ritual, which usually starts with one of her stuffed “buddies” hopping on her back and bouncing up and down to the tune of Rossini's William Tell Overture (which is something I used to bounce her on my knee to as a baby). They get bucked off and fly screaming over the bed. Then they climb back on and it all starts over again. Eventually they get thrown off and land in the vicinity of her derrière, which at her age is still covered with a (by now rather full) pull-up. This causes them to (loudly) gag, retch and pass out - which is very funny if you’re four (or if you’re a guy at any age).

Eventually that game ends and Daddy begins fearfully weeping about having to remove the stinky pull-up. And, having done so he gets very (and repeatedly) confused about where to dispose of it, trying the bureau (NO DADDY!), Moiya’s desk (NOOO DADDY!!), the laundry hamper (NOOOOOO!!) until the poor stupid old man finally figures out to put it in the disposal bin in the bathroom.. where he has to wait until he gets the all-clear to return to the bedroom, to find that Moiya has (gasp) disappeared. Ignoring the snorts and giggles coming from beneath the blankets, Daddy lays down for a short nap – only to discover that there is a “tiny ghostie” in the bed. Eventually this is revealed to be Moiya and the ‘panty rodeo’ begins, wherein Daddy has to try to get panties on his naked child whilst she windmills her feet wildly (I’ve gotten surprisingly good at this, actually. The fact that this is an actual point of pride for me says frightening things about my psyche, I suppose). And finally, with an offer to let her pick out her own clothes for the day, Moiya is up.

On the plus side, after all this I'm usually pretty well awake myself without the need for caffeine.

We dress, we brush our teeth and hair, we find and put on our shoes, and Daddy makes the dash into the kitchen to get breakfast for her and lunch for me. Not surprisingly, on this particular day we were running late, and none of Daddy’s desperate urgings were having any effect on making Moiya move any faster.

And then she asked me to dance. She was standing in the middle of the living room floor in her coat, holding James Bear and asking me to dance. And I started to say “What, are you insane? Did you not hear anything I said about being late for work?”.

And then I stopped and thought “screw this”. And I danced with my daughter.

She likes to dance to Christmas music generally, and Manheim Steamroller Christmas music in particular. So at 6:25 in the morning, I found myself waltzing (after a fashion) with my tiny girl and a stuffed bear to “White Christmas”.

It was a wonderful morning.