Monday, November 28, 2011

Correction

In one of my posts of 11/04/201, I incorrectly quoted Moiya as using the expression "as blind as a duck." That's how I remembered it, and my scrawled note to myself was indecipherable.

However yesterday Moiya was chiding my inability to find something directly under my nose and used the expression again so that I am now able to post the corrected version.

I am - according to my daughter - "as blind as a pigeon."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Snapshots

Moiya’s Mom remarried and so I’m sole custodian of Moiya and Wicker for a week or so until the happy couple return from their honeymoon. It’s been - as Moiya once describe me – “challenging.” For much of the time Moiya has been mad because Mommy and Larry left town without her. Wicker has been mad because elderly cocker spaniels don’t take to having their routine’s disrupted. And Simon has been mad because there’s been an elderly cocker spaniel disrupting her routine. (Simon is a fairly tolerant cat, but apparently having an uninvited nose poked up her bum by the same dog who just ate all her food – and litter – is beyond the kitty pale).

So I’ve been pretty much public enemy number one to pretty much all of the females I share quarters with for pretty much all of the week.

Challenging.

But there have been moments. One weekday evening after Moiya and I got home and were engaged in what we refer to as “draining the dog”, we decided to walk the long apartment complex greens down to the little creek that used to be the “turn-around point” in Moiya’s tricycle days. It was surprising weather for November – warm and sunny with balmy breezes. And before I knew what was happening, Moiya took off running as fast as her legs would carry her. Which in turn prompted Wicker to go bounding after her with a burst of speed I would not have thought possible in a beast her age. And because I was attached to the dog, I found myself being dragged along.

So there we three were in the gloaming of a Fall day, Moiya racing with the speed and joy of youth followed by an deaf, fat dog trying to outrun old age. And bringing up the rear, an out-of-shape man with arthritic knees wishing he could match the energy of either one of them.

And somewhere along that mad and breathless run, I found myself having a snapshot moment… one of those brief and infrequent events when time crystallizes and you become aware that there is occurring around you a single moment of perfection. A moment when the mind pulls back from reality and says “Remember this. It will not come again.”

And so you do. You try like hell to remember. The senses sharpen, time slows, and you record every motion, every breath, every color, and every sound in the attempt to form a snapshot of the single perfect second. Which will never come again.

And then, just as suddenly as it had arrived, the moment was gone, leaving behind three sweaty, panting, grinning (don’t tell me dogs can’t grin) individuals trying to catch their breath before starting home again. We found a hillside that the mowers had not yet denuded of dandelion puffballs and took turns (just Moiya and I… Wicker was intent on a squirrel) picking them and releasing the spores into the evening air. Moiya assured me that it was important to throw the emptied stems as far as possible into the air. “Because it works better that way! It does!” Then with hardly a break in the narritive, “Walk like we’re fairies, Daddy, and we have a fairy dog!” And off she went, the mad girl with waving arms in place of wings, and the dog who would be young again.

And I thought to myself as I trudged along behind them how very much I loved them both.

More Silly Similies

To my ongoing collection of Moiya similies (previously posted here) I happily add the following:



"I'm as hot as a pickle"
"You're just as poor as a seed"
(on entering a dark room) "I'm as blind as a duck"



Episode 42

Last night, Ken (aka Price Eduardo), Princessa (a new addition to the Barbie household) and Tangled (really Rapunzel but Moiya insists that the doll prefers to be known by the movie title) were fighting to free all of the Littlest Pet Shop animals from an adandoned "haunted" building where they had been imprisoned by a deranged Polly Pocket doll.

Ken's devoted companion/pet pig 'Pig' managed to save the day by rushing in and battering the front door down with his head.

It's going to just break my heart when Moiya finally gets old enough that she doesn't want to play with me any more.

I don't know... I suppose I'll have to get cable then.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Now We Know

Found written on my daughter's white board:

"I love you Daddy because you make me laugh and you fart a lot and you play games with me."

So.. now we know the way to a girls' heart.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Boy Thoughts


So Moiya's throwing a fit last night at bed time and demanding that I apologize for hurting her feelings. I told her I'd be glad to do so if she could tell me what I'd done. To which she responded "Well, if you don't know, I'm certainly not going to tell you!!"

And I'm standing there thinking, "Did we get married??"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Touchstone

When the school year ended and it was time for Moiya to begin attending YMCA camp for the summer, she began showing signs of nervousness. This tends to take the forms of periods of silence alternating with picking deliberate quarrels with me. Finally she admitted one night as I was tucking her in that she was nervous about going into an unfamiliar environment and meeting new people. We talked about it and I told her that fear of new people and new situations was something with which her Daddy was – unfortunately – intimately familiar. So we got out of bed and I carefully wrote out her Mother’s cell phone number (though she knows it) and her Step-Father’s number, and my number, telling her that no matter what happened, if she needed to she could always contact one of us. Then I gave her a talisman. Once upon a time she had a locket with pictures of her Mom and I, but it surrendered to the rough handling of childhood years ago. And she has a picture of me by her bed at her Mom’s house, and a picture of her Mom and Step-Dad by her bed at my house so that no matter where she is, the people she’s missing won’t seem so far away.

So I hunted around for something of mine to give her to keep close to hand. At that hour of the night, all I could come up with was my spare pair of glasses. (On the other hand, for someone as nearsighted as I am, glasses are a very personal item). I tucked the numbers and the glasses into the pocket of her backpack with instructions that if she was nervous, all she would have to do was to touch them and she’d know that part of me was close by. And with that we went to bed.

Moiya assures me that it worked. As she put it, “I only felt scared for a little while. But then I remembered and it was better.”

And so some weeks later, when I had to transition from classroom training to web-based and was deeply insecure at the prospect of sitting in a room with a microphone and lecturing to people around the country that I cannot see (bear in mind that I’ve had a pathological terror of telephones for 58 years), Moiya gave me a talisman. She made me a beaded bracelet to take with me, so that “you won’t be scared.”

And son-of-a-gun – it works.

In days gone by, a touchstone was used to distinguish precious metals like gold, from base ones. So this is my touchstone . When I get nervous I can look at it and it reminds me all over again what is real and important – and what is not.

Wearing it also marks me as a very confident male. But that’s another matter.

Das Boot



The internet is great if you’re trying to find new things to do with your child. I trawl the net every week and make lists of events. Some are scheduled for times when I don’t have Moiya. Some are too expensive. Others (like the Doctor Seuss celebration and the puppet shows at our local library) are free. Some are regular events - we have season tickets for the local dinner theatre’s children’s venue, and we’ll be making ourselves sick at our annual trip to the State Fair this weekend.


And then some come straight out of left field without warning. Like finding that the last vintage steamboat still in operation is planning a picnic cruise on Labor Day.


I pondered it for awhile wondering if a seven year old would really enjoy it – and then booked us anyway. I can never tell what may strike a spark with her – I didn’t think she would like the local art museum, but she still refers to it and has asked to go back. And as Moiya herself said when I shied off from taking her to the Frasier Arms Museum “Maybe I’ll like it, and even if I’m bored, it’s ok.”



So one fine, hot, sunny day, Moiya and I found ourselves cruising up the Ohio River on the Belle of Louisville.


We sat on the hurricane deck and watched the people on the shore glide by. We ate a rather wonderful luncheon of traditional American picnic fare. We got the see the steam engine (which was surprisingly silent – and turned Daddy into a gibbering eight-year-old boy) and the great paddle wheel, churning the waters and sending us surging against the current. And we almost danced the hokey-pokey in the ballroom with the rest of the passengers, but at the last minute I failed to convince my daughter that dancing with her old Dad in public would be a laugh. So we watched the other poor souls floundering around and had a laugh anyway


And I think – as best I can tell – we had a good time.

Camp Moiya


This was how our living room looked for about a week. Moiya had been asking for me to set up her tent for several weeks and one weekend I finally got around to it so we could use it as the base of operations for Popcorn Night. We moved in her sleeping bag, her pillow-pets, and several stuffed animals. And then as I had just purchased a box of safety pins for a wholly unrelated purpose, Moiya brought down several of her baby blankets (which are usually used for tucking in her dolls) and pinned them over the opening (the tent is open on one side) to make doors. Thus was Camp Moiya established and there we spent the night playing cards, watching movies, playing Mario Kart, reading library books and (of course) eating popcorn. As I have some trouble fitting my whole self inside unless I’m sitting up, I placed my sleeping bag outside (on the “front porch”) and slept there. Moiya pulled her two main “doors” closed but left a small corner blanket pulled back to we could talk and hold hands while she fell asleep.

When the weekend had passed, Moiya wanted to know if we couldn’t sleep there Monday night. I opened my mouth to say the “no” she was expecting and to explain how we couldn’t possibly leave such a mess in the middle of the living room floor. And then I realized that I didn’t really have any sort of a convincing argument for saying no. It wasn't like anyone ever comes to visit. And the floor is actually less painful when my back is bothering me (which it was). So I brought down my alarm clock and Moiya brought down her night light. We had our dinner on trays in Camp Moiya and then turned in.

Living rooms are for living, after all.

Poop Cookies

Nobody cares about this stuff but me. And someday Moiya is going to be horrified to find that I’ve written it all down. But damn it, she changes so quickly – I don’t realize it until I look at pictures I’ve taken as recently as six months ago and see how different Moiya looks. And the games that are an intimate part of our lives one week will be gone and forgotten in the next. (Just now, I've realized that the large cast of imaginary individuals whose voices I used to have to provide when we traveled are no longer a part of the playscape). This is the best time of my life. It will never come again. I want to remember.

And so I sit down from time to time and write things like this. Things about poop cookies.

I get to learn all sorts of games that Moiya brings home from school and the Y: card games ('War', 'Trash') playground games ('Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone', 'Blue Shoe'), and singing games ('Dog, Cat, Mouse', 'Calamine Lotion'). But my favorite (and the most ephemeral) games are the ones that spring from trivial occurrences. Moiya will sometimes reference (months after the fact) some passing silliness we engaged in. Daddy, remember that game where you’re asleep and I wake you and you tell me to stay there and then I disappear and then there’s two of me?” Sometimes it takes some prodding, but usually I can dredge it out of my brain and another afternoon will past pleasantly.

Some games we revisit so many times that they actually earn regular names… like 'Poop Cookies', or the closely related 'Cutting Things Up'.

Back when Moiya was first potty-trained, she used to like company while she was attending to business. I suppose most children do. At some point along the way we began playing a game in which I would mime drawing a cookie out of hiding, exclaim at it’s magnificence, and then as I closed my eyes to savor the first bite, have it snatched away by my daughter who would regard my frantic searching for the purloined cookie with feigned innocence. Cookies came from everywhere – my pockets, from being the bath towels, even from an imaginary chest which was opened – slowly – with an imaginary key worn on an imaginary chain around my neck.

For whatever reason, this game continues to last. Long after others have been forgotten, I still get the call to “come and eat your cookies.”

From time to time, there have been variations. One day, after Moiya had snatched and eaten my “best and favorite cookie,” I asked her if it was good and receiving an affirmative, informed her that it was a “rat-poop cookie.” And a new game was born. From then on cookies were exchanged and eaten and then various revolting ingredients revealed – bird heads, cat poop, rabbit poop, snot, etc. (Well really.. what did you think a game called "Poop Cookies" would be about?).

A third variant appeared a few months back, generally only referred to as “Cutting Up Things.” It’s rather like rock, paper, scissors. You have to decide (privately) on the object ahead of time and hand it to the other player who may then either pet it, cut it in half, eat it, or throw it away. Only after the action has been taken is the nature of the object revealed. We’ve cut up bunnies, petted eyeballs, and thrown refrigerators. (Also thrown bunnies, cut up refrigerators and eaten eyeballs).

And all this for a quick visit to the toilet. Like I said – I know this is a weird entry. Only a parent finds their child’s bathroom habits interesting. But then – I keep this journal for me. To remember.

It is often inconvenient when Moiya suddenly runs for the bathroom and calls over her shoulder on her way up the stairs “Daddy, come and eat your cookies.” But I try to go when she asks, while she still wants me there. Like bubble baths and me holding her hand as we walk into school, I know that the time is approaching when, in the natural course of things, I will no longer be welcome. And as nice as it is to enjoy these things in memory – it is far, far better to enjoy them in the present.

This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long”.

Even poop cookies.

Yes, Virginia.

I have been remiss. Well, I’ve been remiss about LOTS of things, God knows – not the least of which has been my failure to blog more frequently. So many things have passed into our lives and out again without my noting them for my memory. But specifically I have been remiss in not mentioning last Christmas.

Since the divorce, one of the more painful elements of life has been the fact that I’ve never again gotten to be Santa or to see Moiya’s face on Christmas morning when she scrambles downstairs to see what magic has occurred in the night.

And this is with my consent. Jacquelyn has a large and boisterous family within easy travel distance and I have virtually none. A child should be surrounded by family at Christmas and Moiya is and for that I am grateful. But Christmas morning is one of the great joys of parenthood and I’ve not been able to see my daughter’s Christmas mornings since she was three.

Until this past year when Jacquelyn and Larry invited me to come and share Christmas morning with them and Moiya. It was an act of breathtaking kindness and generosity which absolutely needed recording here. That I did not do so then is not an indication of lack of gratitude, but just distraction.

And that oversight has now been remedied.

Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus.

Imaginarium

Last week Moiya’s Step-Dad and I took her to her school’s Orientation Night, getting ready for the start of second grade. Towards the end of the evening, Moiya insisted on going back to visit her first grade teacher, who made the wry observation that the only discipline problem she’d had with Moiya was that, given her imagination literally ANY object could be transformed into a toy.

And classroom discipline to the contrary, that is one of the things I love most about my daughter. She has very few expensive or trendy toys, and the few she does have rarely get played with. When we play, she’ll grab whatever is at hand and go with it. I’ve written on these pages about making swords from political flyers (which we still have, and still play with).

One afternoon Moiya wanted to see if her watercolor set could be used as face paint. I assured her that it could not but gave her my blessing to try. And son-of-a-gun, yes it can. The first night she painted straight up both my arms, covering them with Christmas trees, Pumpkins, cats, and more than a few things I was unable to identify. The following week she decided that we would both be rabbits (we started out as cats but experienced a mysterious transmogrification half-way through). We had a blast.

Let weeks Moiya’s big entertainment need was a deck of playing cards. I bought her two for the princely sum of $2.00 and she’s been playing with them ever since. When she ran out of games to teach me, she began making up new ones.

So I’m not really sure why, when we go visit my Mom, I bother to haul every amusement we possess along with us… basic parental insecurity I guess. Last time we went, before I had even managed to haul everything out of the car and up to Mom’s apartment, she and Moiya had broken out a pack of construction paper and were making headdresses for all the stuffed animals.

Shortly after that, Moiya wanted to know if I could teach her to make a mask. Specifically, she wanted a “scary vampire mask”. So I traced around her face, got out the scissors and crayons, and sacrificed one of Nonny’s rubber bands to make a mask. Then we made construction paper fingernails (red, because they’re bloody) and a construction paper sword. And then Moiya swept from room to room as a scary monster, wreaking havoc and repeatedly cutting off my head.

As a somewhat conservative Daddy, I suggested that Moiya might want to stop being a monster and try being something “nice.” “How about a Princess?” I asked. “I could make you a Princess mask.” Moiya grudgingly agreed to this and watched intently as I drew what I felt was a pretty good Princess mask, complete with crown and long golden curls. Then I asked what else her Princess should have.


“Fangs.”

“Wha.. ??”

“Big, pointy fangs, dripping blood.”

“On a Princess?”

“Uh-huh.”

“But why??”

“Because she’s a vampire Princess.”

Moiya did not add the “DUH!” but it was fairly obvious.

So Daddy sighed, grumbled, and added bloody fangs. After playing with those for awhile and having seen how I attached the rubber bands, Moiya took over and began what she called her “mask factory.” She’d take a piece of construction paper and using the initial mask as a template, trace around it to create new ones which she then cut out and colored. Before I knew it she had created and entire “monster family” of about seven masks, complete with a vampire dog. And as I practiced my “watching without watching” she proceeded to weave an entire Kabuki performance for her Grandmother, swapping masks to become the different characters in a long and wildly complex narrative. I’d have given anything to have been able to film it, but I knew that if I once reached for the camera, self-consciousness would break the spell.

And age will do that soon enough.

But in the meanwhile - though we have video and movies, electronic games and internet, our favorite, most engaging, and most complex form of entertainment is still play.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shadowhead

Walking across a parking lot last weekend, Moiya kept bobbing and weaving while she walked. When I tried to get her to stop, she explained "I'm stepping on your head.” I grumbled that she was nowhere near my head and to stop being so bloody silly. She just laughed, hopped a bit further, and said “Not your REAL head, Daddy! I’m stepping on your SHADOW HEAD!”

And sure enough, when I looked, she was jumping to land wherever my shadow moved across the asphalt. And, well – I was having none of that. So I ducked, and tried to step on HER shadow head instead. And before long we were lurching and ducking across the parking lot like two drunken spastics, trying to step on one another’s shadowheads while keeping our own out of reach. And laughing like loons.

Of course an hour later Moiya was howling that I was evil, that she wanted to live permanently with Mommy and Larry because they were her “real family” and I would be sad and she wouldn’t care because I was mean.

But that’s just how things goes I guess.

Parenthood. Keeping the makers of Prozac rich since 1977.

Summer


It’s dandelion season again. I love seeing the bright splashes of yellow, no matter what damage they do to well-manicured lawns. And I respect their tenacity and ability to prosper in the unlikeliest of places. They are a gift – and one that I too often overlook until Moiya brings them to my attention. She’ll disappear from my distracted view when we are out and a short time later will reappear at my side with a fistful of bright yellow flowers which she presents with a “I picked these for you, Daddy.” And suddenly the day is brighter.

Occasionally they will expire by the time we get home. But usually I can get them there unscathed and we put them in a cup of water on the kitchen windowsill. And we wait for them to begin their magic dance.

The first time her dandelions closed after we put them in water, Moiya was disappointed. “Aww!” she exclaimed “they all died!” But I told her to wait and explained that they weren’t dead, but changing. “It's like a cocoon." I said. "Like butterflies. Inside they're changing and when they come out, they’ll be something different.” They first time she clearly thought I was bonkers. But a week later we awoke to find that the dandelions had reopened – come out of their cocoons. And that they were now perfect gossamer balls of white fluff.

Now after we’ve enjoyed the bright yellow flowers for a few days and they begin their sleep, we check on them every day for their reopening. And when they do, we take them into the back yard and blow on them, watching their seeds float away until they disappear from view into the blue summer sky.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Silly Similies

I've always enjoyed Moiya's wonderfully off-the-wall similies, but sadly hadn't been writing them down until now. A few I've mentioned previously; others are new. I'll try to keep better tabs from now on. They have a lovely, surreal quality that leave me smiling:

"She's gonna have a headache like a horse."

"It's as quiet as a truck."

"I love you more than a rock and a piece of soap."

"He runs faster than an octopus!"

"She was still as a plant."

"Like I always do sometimes"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Barbie addendum

I’ve been asked to make two corrections to my last post:

  1. Moiya’s Mom has strenuously protested her innocence and says that she was not the one who first gave Moiya a Barbie.

  2. The doll formerly known as Princessa is no longer known as Princessa. As of Saturday when we acquired a three-inch-tall Barbie with purple hair and wings from McDonalds, we have a new story-line: The doll formerly known as Princessa (and who was evil) is no longer evil and goes by the name “Lily”. She is now the mother of the former Doll Who Had No Name - who is now named Princessa. And Princessa (formerly she of no name)is now the mother of the purple fairy Barbie - who is now also named Princessa (but who is known to everyone as Katie). Princessa/Katie has turned all of the other Barbies into fairies in order for them to assist her in her battle against an evil monster that is ravaging all of fairy-kind. So the other Barbies now have wings, albeit invisible ones.

    I hope that is all perfectly clear.

    Ken’s wings periodically vanish (which is pretty good, considering that they were invisible to begin with) while he’s in flight. Because it’s really funny when he crashes into the ground, and apparently fairies just have that kind of sense of humor.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Barbie

Two weeks ago, I spent half an hour playing Barbies with my daughter by phone.

Let me say that again: Barbies. By phone.

I’m not a Barbie aficionado. Firstly, because I’m a guy. When I was little, boy Barbies (otherwise known as “Action Figures” to avoid damaging the Fragile Male Ego©) hadn’t been invented. I had army men – the ubiquitous little plastic soldiers that came in bags of about 17,000 and which were the bane of barefoot adults everywhere. We dug battle trenches in the flowers beds (much to my Father’s dismay) and laid each side out in battle formation. These were the non-enlightened days before the Parent’s Council had taught us that violent games in childhood make for violent adults. So we all had pistols, automatic weapons, grenades (which fired caps), and large rubber combat knives which we gleefully used to slash one another’s throats. The really violent stuff we reserved for the plastic troops. A plastic army man’s life expectancy made that of his live counterpart on D-Day looks long by comparison. We threw them, burned them, pelted them with dirt clods (which made a satisfyingly realistic puff on impact, and were also dug out of my Dad’s flower beds) and occasionally, positioned them around firecrackers to simulate the effects of landmines.

Toy soldiers were to be played with. I had no idea what the hell Barbies were for. My cousin Marci had several Barbies and I only ever saw her dragging them around by one leg as though she had just returned from the hunt. I was nearly ten before I realized that they didn’t come from the store naked and decapitated.

Later, I was taught that Barbie was an evil instrument of our male-dominated corporate overlords, designed to indoctrinate little girls into being decorative little consumers. As such I was determined to protect my daughter from them. I still hold to those views. And we have managed to protect our daughter from many of the worst excesses of unthinking consumerist greed. But I fought the Barbie – and I lost.

Moiya’s Mom got her a Barbie and the world didn’t end, nor did the advertising council climb through the bedroom window, so I unbent a bit and got her one. Actually, I got her two. They were part of a package set, and not made by Mattell. So technically they weren’t Barbie’s at all, but rather Barbie-sized. This was my first approach to the Barbie Learning Curve®

  1. Barbie knock-offs aren’t constructed like real Barbies and are often easier to dismember than the Mattel product.

    Little girls often bend doll arms with the same gentle loving concern as a linebacker and don’t really care which way the joint is *supposed* to bend.

    At first, I tried to explain to Moiya that her Barbie really wasn’t meant to have it’s arms twisted behind it’s back at an angle that would make Dr. Mengele wince. I received a blank stare. So I got really, really good at reattaching doll arms.

    (Bonus: once the arms have been ripped off, Barbie is about 1000% easier to wedge into her tiny, tiny clothes.)


  2. There is no consistent construction for real Barbies either.
    Parts that are made to bend on some Barbies don't bend on others. Get used to reattaching things.

  3. Never ever hold a Barbie by the legs which brushing the hair.
    I used amuse msyself during interminable Barbie sessions by brushing the doll's hair. It at least something I could wrap my male brain around. And Barbie hair is fashioned from a type of fiber specifically formulated to to turn into rope unless brushed regularly. I discovered that the easiest way to get at the hair for brushing is to hold Barbie up by her ankles and brush straight down.

    I also discovered that this will rip her head clean off.


  4. Barbie heads don’t reattached the same way as Barbie arms.

  5. No matter what you do with Barbie, no matter how carefully you follow the instructions given you by your little tyrant, you will be instructed that you are “doing it wrong.”

  6. Barbies, apparently, can fly.
    (I mentioned this oddity to adult females of my acquaintance and they uniformly responded with “Well, of course” in the pitying tone women reserve for egregious examples of male stupidity)

  7. Lifting up Barbie’s skirt and commenting on the pebbly, embossed surface meant to resemble panties by referring to her loudly and repeatedly as “Lumpy Butt” will get you in trouble.



Our two faux Barbies, Stella and Cupcake (I named one and Moiya named the other. Can you tell which is which?) were soon joined by a genuine Barbie named Princessa and then, at my daughter’s request, by a “Fashionista Ken.” I tried to push for the Ken to be named Prince Edwardo and used to make him talk like Ricardo Montoban, but was overruled. So I made him stand outside the dollhouse and call “STELLAAAAAAAH!”in my best Marlon Brando voice instead, which amused me greatly. But I was overruled on that as well.

I now amuse myself by making Ken talk like a surfer dude and fuss incessantly about the state of his hair. (We all take our pleasures where we can.)

Stella, Cupcake, Ken/Eduardo, Princessa and a Christmas addition who is – as yet – nameless, live in a three-story dollhouse in one corner of Moiya’s bedroom. Their private life varies from the mundane, to the bizarre, to the surreal. Ken/Eduardo is married to both Stella and Cupcake. (Cupcake is also his sister - the genealogy of Stella remains unknown). Princessa has occasionally tried to put the moves on Ken/Eduardo, but as she is EVIL and he is GOOD Ken is able to resist her charms. Ken, Stella, and sisterwife Cupcake live with an assortment of Littlest Pet Shop figurines for whom they serve as guardians/teachers. (At one time a rather elaborate schoolhouse was constructed out of building blocks, but it eventually has to be removed so that Daddy could vacuum.)

Recently Cupcake gave birth to ten or twelve tiny yellow plastic kangaroos as well. Primarily they move around the dollhouse house in a pack, watching people. I don’t know where Moiya got them and I’m sure as hell not going to inquire too closely into their family relationships. Singly they're cute. In a pack, they give me the heebie-jeebies.

The only person definitely identified as the offspring of Ken and Cupcake (despite being the senior wife, Stella doesn’t appear to have conjugal rights) is a tiny toy figure of uncertain origin, possibly a Happy Meal Barbie clone who has long since lost her clothing and who wears only the diaper that was painted onto her body. Named Summer, she began life as a good child, but has recently gone over to the dark side. She’s mean, surly, and is possessed of magic powers. Personally, I think that she’s Ken and Princessa's’s love child. But I keep such opinions to myself.

The other residents of the Barbie house are an assortment of figures gleaned from various sources over the years: a Little Boy Blue, two Princesses, a Mad Hatter, and one mermaid who lives in the family bathtub. The cast will swell as the ongoing narrative demands, to occasionally include several My Little Ponies (who trade off transport duties with a cardboard Pontiac gleaned from Steak and Shake two years ago. The ponies can fly. The car, not so much) and even one of Moiya's life-sized baby dolls (who, being much too large to actually fit in the Barbie house, is appropriately named “Giant Baby”)

On the 2nd floor, Ken is telling bed time stories to the little dudes, accompanied by the faithful Pig (on the piano), Stella (at right) and The Unnamed One (holding Summer in a rare well-behaved moment)
Ken seems to be the paterfamilias of the group and primary caregiver to the children, though his women lead him a dog’s life with their constant quarreling. His one source of solace is his pet pig (named “Pig”) that follows him wherever he goes. (All of which could explain why Ken sometimes gets moody and wanders off across the bedroom floor, accompanied by Pig). One particularly grim story line saw Princessa abducting Pig and killing him, presumably in a fit of pique over an unsuccessful overture to Ken. Ken was inconsolable until Stella was able to bring Pig back to life through methods that remain a bit vague.

By and large, Daddy discourages story lines that wander into the violent. Granted, someone is always being mean to someone else in a household as large as this one. Hitting happens, but shooting is not allowed. Malefactors are given a stern talking to by Ken (to whom they are all “Little Dude”). Continued failure to observe the rules of polite behavior result in the perpetrator being sent to time out by being shut up in the nearby toy oven (Daddy decided that 6 was not the right age to mention unfortunate historical overtones). Good children get to go and play in the playground built beside the house out of toy remnants and various odds and ends.

When the Barbies are not quarreling, dressing, or making Ken’s life a living plastic hell, they generally hold class for the assorted children. Recently this has tended to involve actual teaching. In an obvious reflection of real life, when Moiya was in kindergarten the Barbies spent most of their time shepherding the children to and from the upper floors of the house to the bathroom on the first floor. They had to go in shifts, and it was not permitted to take any shortcuts. Barbies can fly, but the other plastic people cannot, and they had to be carefully lined up (girls in one line, boys in the other) and then each toy was individually walked down the stairs from the third floor to the second. A second line would then form outside the elevator which connects the second floor to the first. No one could go down the elevator until everyone had made it down the stairs first. And no one could actually go to the toilet until everyone had made it down the elevator and had lined up again outside the bathroom.

And once everyone had gone, the entire procedure had to be repeated again to get them all upstairs again. I usually took about twenty minutes from start to finish.

I hate bathroom breaks. So does Ken.

There are very few good things about having to spend part of each week away from one's child. But I had assumed one of them at least was not having to play Barbies. I say this in the full knowledge that in a few years when Moiya has gotten older and no longer wants to play with me, that I will look back on this time with a palpable longing. Nevertheless, I thought a household with just me and the cat unlikely to be visited by Cupcake and friends. So I was taken aback when, during my call to tell Moiya goodnight, she wanted to play Barbies with me.

“But,Umm.. but… I’m here and you’re there.”
“That’s okay.. go get Ken!
“But..”
“Go get Ken.”
“But..”
“Daddy! Go get Ken!”

Daddy didn’t really go upstairs to get Ken, but made appropriate stair-climbing noises and declared Ken present.

“Oh no! Help me Ken!”
“Um.. who is this?”
“This is Abigail!”
“…?”
“I’m Cupcake’s sissy! You have to help us! Me and my five sisters!”
“Um.. Oh.. okay (ahem) Dude! It’s Ken! Wasshappenin’ lil’ dudes?”
“It’s evil Ken! He’s here and he’s being mean to my sisters!”
“Well dude, that’s bogus! Like.. call the police.”
“We did, but they aren’t here yet! We need to come over there!”
“Well, get in the car and drive over!
“We can’t! Only Cynthia is old enough to drive.”
“Well..”
“But evil Ken hit her with a hammer and it tore her leg off! You’ll have to send the horses”
“Horses?”
(gruff voice) “HELLO!”
“Um.. who is this?”
“THIS IS EVIL KEN. YOU BETTER NOT BE TALKING ABOUT ME!”
“Um.. no way dude!”
“Send the horses!”
"Ken?"
"No!"
“Is this Abigail?”
“No, this is Cynthia.”
“Oh. Sorry to hear about your leg, dude.”
“Oh, my sissy put a bandage on it and I’m all better. But there’s too much snow for us to drive. And we all won’t fit in the car. Send the horses, Orange Blossom and Silky Mane!”

And so it went. For three days. Evil Ken went to jail. He escaped from jail to threaten Good Ken. He went back to jail again. We all rode our valiant horses to safety through the ice and snow. And nobody had to go to the bathroom.

I need to learn how you fix a Barbie leg with a band-aid though..

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Moiya Moment

On the way to school last week, Moiya described something as being so silent that "it was as quiet as a truck!"

I pointed out that trucks aren't very quiet.

Moiya replied "I meant a truck that isn't doing anything."

Which pretty well shut me up.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feeling Better

I'm back to work. My long unemployment can be the topic for another post (maybe). But I'm back to work. The advantage to being back at work is that eventually you get medical insurance. So for the first time in over a year I can actually go and see a doctor. The bad thing about being back at work is that when I get sick I can't actually take a day off to go and see a doctor. So as I have for the past year, I try to stave everything off with lots of vitamins and copious amounts of hand sanitizer (or "hanitizer" as Moiya would have it).

Right now I'm feeling a little ragged as I'm fighting one of my periodic sinus/upper respiratory infections. I'm not incapacitated. I just look and feel a little like something that shouldn't be allowed into the living room. Moiya has been, for the most part, very sweet and solicitous of her mangy Dad. (although she found that actually watching Daddy flush salt water through his sinuses was a little too gross even for a girl whose favorite topic for humor is dirty underwear).


On days when I pack Moiya's lunch, I always write/draw her a little note on a paper napkin, as my mother did for me when I was the same age. Today when I was packing my lunch, I found a note, written/drawn on a paper napkin from Moiya displaying a drawing of us holding hands and the legend "I LOVE YOU". When I asked why she put it in my lunch she said "So when you're not feeling good today, Daddy, you can look at it and it will make you feel better."

She got a big hug. The note is currently taped to the monitor in my office. And damned if I don't feel better each and every time I look at it.

I have such a cool kid