Sometimes there tends to be a rather Calvin & Hobbes-like quality to the conversations I have with my daughter. Perhaps this stems from the fact that I never really engaged her with baby talk or conversation “at a child’s level”—whatever that means. I’ve always just—well—talked to her.
I don’t mean to suggest my daughter and I sit around and chat about the Hegelian dialect over a few cans of Fanta. We talk about things she likes to talk about, like princesses, the Magic Tree House series and Marble Slab ice cream. Also, the things that I like to talk about, like partisan politics, ancient history and metaphysics.
Also, I’m a single dad, so we talk quite a lot. And somewhere in the middle of all this I learned how to make the perfect ballet bun (sort of) and how to transform hot dogs and noodles into flying spaghetti monsters—plus learned the difference between ibuprofen and acetaminophen. (Ibuprofen is Tylenol, right? Advil? Sigh.)
Anyway, enough of all that. Our conversations are way more interesting than any preface I could come up with. I’ve got enough material to last several blogs. Enjoy this first one.
While watching The Fox & the Hound:
Kat: I don’t want to watch it anymore!
Papa: Why not?
Kat: The boy fox, I’m so embarrassed for him! I’m afraid the girl fox won’t like him back.
Papa: How come?
Kat: Because of all the silly things he does. She probably wants someone perfect.
[five minutes later]
Kat: Now they’re in love! Now they’re talking about babies! This is so wonderful!
Papa: Maybe we should watch “Wall-E.”
That moment when your daughter tries to spell “fabulous” with her word bracelet and forgets the “b” and “u” and you don’t realize it until you’re at the zoo surrounded by thousands of your fellow citizens.
In the car on the way home from school…
Kat: Papa, you write grants for work, right?
Papa: Yes, I write scientific grants.
Kat: A grant is when you ask for money to do science, right?
Papa: Yes, good!
Kat: But what if the scientist takes the money and buys ice cream. Or steals it and runs away! Or what if he lies and isn’t really a scientist.
Papa: Well, there are a lot of safeguards to make sure that the person really is a scientist and that they’re likely to do what they say they’ll do.
Kat: But they could still steal the money. Or use it for wrong things.
Papa: They could. But then they would have to give it back, or there’s even a chance they could go to jail.
Kat: What if they ran away?
Papa: Then I suppose the U.S. Marshals would track them down.
Kat: What if they refused to go with them. What if they had bats and knives?
Papa: Then more U.S. Marshals would show up.
Kat: But what if it was a really big group of bad, lying people who aren’t really scientists?
Papa: Ah, the Pseudo-Science Mafia. Yes, that would be a concern. You know, Kat, most people really don’t go to that much trouble to dupe the NIH.
Kat: Papa, can I have some fruit?
Papa: There’s fruit on your plate. You asked for lemon wedges.
Kat: Yeah, but I want fruit too.
Papa: But lemon is a fruit.
Kat: Lemon is a fruit?
Papa: Of course lemon is a fruit. What did you think it was?
Kat: I thought it was a member of the lollipop family.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! Kat and I were examining her tooth under the microscope; it slipped through the tweezers and FELL INTO THE NECK OF MICROSCOPE! Through an infinitesimal-sized hole. Which, upon further examination, cannot be accessed by normal human means.
Kat has offered the Tooth God a drawing of her tooth, as well as one of her toy necklaces as propitiation. Who knows what will happen now!
[several hours later]
All is well. I just had a glass of red wine with the inimitable Tooth Fairy.
She reports to have left a five- and two-dollar bill beneath the pillow of my daughter, who at present is swimming in the River Lethe.
Here is the note Kat left as a vicar for said missing tooth—which forever is embedded in her microscope. (Someday archaeologists will puzzle over this one.)
Kat’s letter might be the most poignant ever penned in the history of the world
At dinner last night, Kat asked, “What’s an alma mater?”
I explained that it’s Latin for roughly “mother’s milk,” which of course drew a funny look. Then I explained that the phrase is used to describe one’s college typically.
I paused from taking a bite of my taco, “Wait, why do you want to know?”
She started singing a song with “alma mater” in it, and I asked if her class was learning this song for her upcoming kindergarten graduation. She nodded.
“I see, how exciting,” I commented. “And congratulations! But didn’t the teacher tell you what the words in the song mean?”
She took a bite of her quesadilla, “Nope.”
“Hmm,” I thought aloud. “Kind of like not explaining to you and your classmates what ‘I pledge allegiance’ means either, then.”
An interesting conversation ensued.
I went to check in on Kat, and she had fallen asleep on a pile of opened books: Polyanna, an Abraham Lincoln biography, a book about insects, an Oscar the Grouch book, and one of the Chronicles of Narnia titles. I love my daughter.
Kat was looking at her desk calendar this evening, flipping ahead to April, and broke into spontaneous tears. I ran over, not sure what had happened.
She looked up at me, bawling: “Why do they call it Good Friday?! It’s not: it’s Horrible Friday!”
Tonight I shaved my beard down to a goatee for the first time in two years.
Kat: I liked you better when I couldn’t see your face.
[the next night]
While I was tucking Kat into bed, she told me that she would take care of me when I’m an old man, provided I grow my beard—she pointed at her waist—“down to here.”
“Deal,” I replied.
Must every school ballet be selected based on whether there is a corresponding Disney movie?
Next year I better see The Call of Cthulhu: the Ballet.
Kat and I spent some time a few weeks ago learning about Picasso and cubism. Today she presented me with a drawing and said, “Enough of that squarism stuff. This is stickperson-ism. And it’s way easier.”
Kat, while being tucked into bed:
“Papa, who invented hugs and kisses? Was it the dinosaurs?”