1. Letter of the Law.
- It's early in the morning, and there are still people sleeping. PLEASE keep your voice down!!
- Okay Daddy,
he said, with magnificent and total obedience, and in a whisper,
as he tiptoed over to practice his drums.
2a. Political Statement.
- It's Father's Day weekend,
I said to the children.
- So let's think of something nice to do for your mom.
- She's not a father!
One of them exclaimed (I think it was the girl).
- I know.
- But I'm a father now because I married her, and that led to the state of existence I now lead that led to my becoming a father.
The girl exclaimed.
- SHE married YOU; you didn't marry her!
I said authoritatively.
Yes and yes. I married her, and she married me.
I thought about that last sentence and shook my head at the inconsistency and frequent idiocy of English language conjugation, pronoun variations, and the un-logic of tenses, and
tipped my hat to people who learn English as adults. How marvelously, malevolently challenging. And frustrating. Tip my hat.
one of the children asked (I think it was the boy).
- Why can Superman fly, and you can't?
- Why do you think?
- Umm...because you don't have wings. And you don't have a cape. And because of gravity that makes you come back down when you're in the air.
- Nailed it.
He said, shrugging off the compliment.
- And also, Batman can't fly, even though he has a cape.
- He's human, like me.
The children flipped out when - and please don't ask how this conversation came to be because it would lead to dreadfully boring exposition - they found out that THE SAME PERSON is responsible for:
1) the voice of Miss Piggy
2) the voice of Yoda
3) directing What About Bob?
Happy Father's Day, Frank Oz. My children think you are, umm, the coolest guy ever.
- Time for you to start mathematics homework!
I screamed nicely at my daughter from the opposite end of the house.
- We really need to get that whole three-digit regrouping thing nailed down!!
I thought I heard her say.
And next thing I knew, I heard the voice of Lloyd Christmas coming from the computer speakers accompanied by duet giggling from two nefarious non-homework doers scrunched in front of the screen watching the trailer for Dumb and Dumber 2; a screen that was accessed by the web sleuthing abilities of the elder miscreant.
- What are you doing?!
I screamed at them quietly;
- Oh, we're just watching this.
One of them said.
The other said.
- It's funny.
- Oh, okay.
- I guess that makes sense...
I thought further.
- No! It doesn't! Who taught you self-sufficiency and independence and reading and stuff that lets you get away with figuring out stuff without needing me?! Huh?
I turned it off, which is one of the saddest things I've ever had to do, because there are few films I am as excited to see with them someday as D&D, but it's not time yet. In fairness, I did show them the trailer so they would have an idea of what I will be going to see opening weekend without them in November, and I think it maybe helped them to understand and maybe be happy for me.
I have been having a great time telling them condensed, filtered narratives of various films I want to see with them someday (Goonies, Amelie, Out of Sight, Temple
of Doom, Star Trek II, etc).
I'm so excited about getting older.
5. Wiggle Room.
Regarding bedtime: I think maybe most parents have their Achilles spots. One of mine would be when they are enthusiastically engaged in a creative pursuit, such as tonight, as bedtime came and went and we watched our children, infuriatingly, maddeningly winsome in matching pajamas, sharing a pair of drumsticks and beating out their own versions of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Surrender, and their beloved This Fire on the living room drum set. The level of musical acumen on display was off the charts (in the negative zone), yet the sheer enthusiasm and volume was so loud and destructive and bone-rattlingly charming that it was almost physically impossible to get them to bed. Finally, we did, because we are super good parents and think our children SHOULD go to bed at some point.
My wife and I high-fived, or something of the sort, and I felt like I just ran a marathon, which I didn't, because I don't, and just marveled again at
and fulfilling it is
to be a dad; specifically a dad with a partner, co-leader, and pal that makes the process and effort easier and funner and funnier.
And makes me think of the four male mentors I have had at different points in my life that have helped contribute to the person I am now: First and foremost my eccentric, play hard, attack-life-and-learn-everything-and-laugh hard dad (Lee Long) for all my life, And my polyglot, journal-writing Oncle James. And my filmmaking, media critiquing thoughtful and articulate fellow creative and friend Jeffrey. And my former professor Rick, whose relentless energy and drive to see others succeed and make them stronger artists and humans helped build qualities that have not only served me well professionally, but have translated into rounding me out as a dad as well. Many others I owe gratitude and appreciation; these four and their influence on who I am now as a dad deserve a lot more than an occasional shoutout. But for now, that's gonna have to do because I don't got a billion dollars yet. Thank you, gentlemen. Your influence has run deep.
To my friends for whom this weekend has difficult memories or associations, I hope you are able to create some joy and fresh memories to carry into the future. Thinking of you as well.
Peace. And don't let reality override your imagination.