1. VICTORY IS SWEET (PEE). I had been preparing my daughter for the first night that she would sleep through the night without a diaper. She was scared she would have an accident. I reminded her that she had not had an accident for months, and I even showed her all the dry diapers that had gathered in the trash bin from all the nights when she “held it” until she woke up. There was not a single wet diaper. She was still scared. So, naturally, on the very day that she was to go diaper-less at bedtime, she “had an accident.”
I saw it happen. We had just returned from church. She stood in the door that leads from the garage to the kitchen and informed me of nature’s call. I made her wait for about ten seconds, since I had to fetch something from the car, and the next time I looked at her, she had this triumphant look on her face.
“I peeped,” she said. (This is her past-tense form of the verb, which is too funny for me to correct.) She might have been the Duke of Wellington announcing his victory at Waterloo.
And indeed she had “peeped.” I carried her, at arm’s length, to the bathroom, and took off the wet jeans. I sat her on the toilet for no particular reason, feeling forlorn.
Of course, you’re thinking the same thing now that I thought then: O for the days when I could get out of something simply by soiling my pants.
2. GHETTO SANTA CLAUS. My three-year-old asked Santa for a bunny when she saw him at the local mall. We could, I suggested to my wife, get a rabbit hutch in the backyard. Swiftly, my wife found a nice stuffed “Peter Rabbit.”
We were headed to a party where we were supposed to bring a present for ‘Santa’ (one of the other fathers) to hand out to the children. Unfortunately, the fellow who was supposed to be Santa wimped out (claiming to be “sick”), and I was asked to step up. You can’t exactly say no to that, can you?
I think I must have been the worst Santa in the history of Santas. The older kids commented on how “ghetto” my costume was — and they were right. I had to stuff a pillow under my belt, and I had to keep my face down because the moustache and beard fell whenever I raised my chin more than an inch from my chest. This gave my not-so-booming ho-ho-hos a menacing look. The kids hardly seemed to notice — but you know what? I didn’t really care about the other kids. I’d never met them before. I needed to maintain the illusion, lest I earn myself their parents’ ire forevermore, but I was mostly concerned with my own little girl. I handed out the other toys and then came to hers.
Surely, I thought, surely, she would recognize me. My eyes, my nose, my voice. She’s seen and heard them almost every day of her life.
Of course, I was completely mistaken. She stared at me with utter incomprehension. And she was perfectly happy with Peter Rabbit. I took pictures: a ghetto, back-bencher Santa with his chin in his chest, glaring up through his bushy white eyebrows — and then I got out of there as quickly as I could.
My own father played Santa at his company Christmas party every year. I remember, as a young boy (but too old for the Santa illusion anymore), going into the bathroom to help him change into the suit and laughing at one of his farting coworkers in the stall next door. Dad was a much better Santa than I am.
3. LITTLE MISS STALIN. For weeks now, my three-month-old has practically lived for “smile wars,” where we smile back and forth and see who gets sleepy or hungry or gassy first. One thing we often do in the midst of such wars is “super baby.” I lay down on the floor and sit her on my belly. She crouches down, and as I lift her she pushes off with her mighty tree-trunk legs and sets off into the air, “flying over the hills and the mountaintops.”
Yesterday, she laughed for the first time. Truly laughed. This was also the day that my parents’ beloved dog was put to sleep. Three months old, and she’s already rejoicing in the suffering of others.
4. HOKEY TEARY. Does anyone else get weepy when you sing children’s songs like “Old MacDonald,” “Say, Say Oh Playmate” or “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” Maybe the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about — but this is ridiculous. I don’t understand this at all, but I’m pretty sure it means I need therapy.
5. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS – A PHOTO ESSAY.