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Now, there’s a whole philosophical debate to be had over how much privacy a child should have. How much a parent is entitled to know, to learn, through snooping. E-mail accounts, Facebook friends, all that stuff.
But as with all matters of serious parenting, I’m not going to get into that here.
My Dad always enforced his rules with the old, “As long as you’re living under my roof” trump card. And here, the guideline for creative content seems to be the same: Anything composed in this house, that’s fair game.
All of which is a long-winded way to say: Fontaine left a letter to a friend sitting around and Wife read it.
And there was something in it that made my job of household blogger oh so easy. The P.S.
Now, remember, Fontaine’s nine years old and apparently thinking about many things. Her friend is 10 or 11.
“P.S. Did you know that when a woman has a baby, her Virginia splits open?”
Holy Shenandoah Valley!, I thought. Where does this division take place?
Certainly explains the formation of “The Blue Ridge Parkway.”
Not to mention, “The Cumberland Gap.”
Fontaine continued: “That sounds painful, and gross, and that’s why I am not having babies.”
I don’t know what to do: Is this time for some in-home sex ed…or maybe just spelling lessons?
Image above from tnhistoryforkids.com. I’ve been there, to the real Cumberland Gap, an amazing place.

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Wife and Wife’s out-of-town friend are meeting up today, kids in tow, at a campground in Maryland.
They have been planning the “menu” for several days, and I suggested a collaborative list be produced on Google Docs. To my surprise, this suggestion was met with a “Good idea!” Not to my surprise, the Google Doc-ument required a 30-minute hash-it-out phone call yesterday morning before the shopping took place.
I eavesdropped on Wife’s end of this phone call with much amusement.
“I got some good hummus, and I’ll bring that. What should we have with it?”
Ah, hummus as the main course of a meal.
“I’ll get some pita chips…Fontaine likes pita chips with it.”
Parallel to this conversation, I am thinking about my just-concluded “baseball weekend” with my old college friends. We’ve been doing it for about 10 years. The pre-planning involves a bunch of emails, most of which are jokes targeting people in the group for behavior from previous years, and no phone calls.
The main thing we line up is: Who is going to bring what kind of beer. The first year we did this, we rolled in at dinnertime from scattered points around the East Coast and we had no food at all lined up for dinner.
We have gotten much better at this, and eating well has become a key element. One guy brings a “meat pie,” an 18-inch in diameter, two-plus-inch thick pizza thing stuffed with ground beef, cheese and onions. The onions inside the meat pie stand as our only “vegetable” for the next 48 hours, other than corn on the cob. We eat hamburgers, steaks, crabs, hamburgers with crab meat on top.
Wife’s conversation goes on…and on…yogurt, yogurt smoothies, cereal…
And, yeah, I’m being completely unfair here, because she’s got to spend most of her time sweating having the right stuff for the girls, but, you know, this is my blog — and thoughtful, fair stories aren’t funny.
Finally, it seems Wife’s phone call is coming to a conclusion.
“Well, I’d better head to Trader Joe’s….Hey, I have a bottle of wine, should I bring it?”
FINALLY, booze!
Two nights, five kids, one bottle of wine?
Must be the new math.
Is Chardonnay good with hummus?

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It’s probably not news to Wife, but when I bought a new car about a year and a half ago, sure, gas prices were high and a big reason I chose a small car was great mileage. But another reason was — and here’s the part that wouldn’t surprise Wife — I LIKE having my own ride with my own junk in it.
After years of driving VWs (’68 bug, ’81 Rabbit Diesel, ’89 Jetta, ’98 Jetta), I was tired of having to reassemble them after various parts flew off, so I focused on Hondas. It was either a Civic or an Accord. Aside from the fact that the Accord would get way worse gas mileage, I picked the Civic because it seemed to have a small enough backseat to be uncomfortable enough so that it would never get repurposed for the family car.
I failed to factor in this: Sometimes, only one or two kids need to go somewhere, and when that is the case, the Civic backseat is just fine.
Which brings us to the exploded cache of kid junk that I had to clean out of my car on Friday before going out of town. For any Mom who has to drive the family car, it is not an impressive amount of junk. The impressive thing is that it accumulated during only two round trips.
A cardboard car giveaway from a restaurant, two purple ballet slippers, two sparkly pencils, two drawings created in transit. And my favorite: a four-inch plastic shark.
Sure, it doesn’t compare to the milk container we once found in the SUV after it had turned into cottage cheese. It doesn’t hold a candle to the piece of fruit, probably an orange shriveled to the size of a grape, that we once found under the passenger seat. It does not hold up to finding sticks brought on board as part of Fontaine’s on-going, three-year Smithsonian Anthropological Stick Collection.
But still, a pretty craptastic collection considering the short turnaround time.
Anyone know if those Mercedes/Swatch Smart cars have a back seat?

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When I was a kid, my brother and I loved watching the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora,” but of course, at the time, I never thought I would use a lesson from a movie about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor as a guidepost for raising children.
But so it is: So many daughters; so many war metaphors.
When Fontaine was little — by which I mean, from Day 1 until Year Eight — she awoke hellish early. No matter what time she went to bed, up at 6 a.m. Or earlier. When it was time to turn back the clock, 6 a.m. became 5 a.m. When it was time to turn forward the clocks, 6 a.m. remained 6 a.m.
One time, we were out front with the neighbors, and I was telling the other dad about this early wake-up call, and he asked her why she got up so early.
“I’m afraid I’ll miss out on something fun,” she said.
I swore then that no matter what happened, once she started sleeping in, even if it was when she was a teenager, I was going to get up at 6 a.m. and run the leaf blower outside of her window.
Yeah, I am one of those “revenge is a dish best served cold,” and I don’t mind waiting five, 10, 20 years to serve it up.
Now, something miraculous has happened. Fontaine recently turned nine, and she’s started to sleep in (by which I mean, 8:30). She comes downstairs some mornings grumbling about having been awakened too early by her sisters.
Oh, yeah, it’s time. Anyone got a Diesel-powered 300 horsepower leaf blower with a hole in the muffler?
But, so far, I have chickened out. That child is grumpier than I am without a full night’s sleep, and for some reason, I have held off.
I think it is the lesson “Tora, Tora, Tora.”
Pearl Harbor was in flames, ships sunk, people killed. I don’t have to lay it out for you. You remember the 2001 movie by the same name, the one in which they ripped off “Tora, Tora, Tora” and made a love story out of it.
Anyway, at very end of “Tora, Tora, Tora,” the Japanese Admiral assesses the situation with regret, and a powerful quote lingers on the screen:
“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
And that’s why I haven’t yet fired up the leaf blower outside of my nine-year-old’s bedroom window.

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We were driving down the street last evening, reveling in the usual melodic sounds of a Van Load of Kids (Hey, she poked me with her marker; Mommeeeeeee, she’s in my personal space; Tell her to stop kicking the back of my seat, etc), when we passed the neighbor’s house and saw the neighbor guy in his side yard.
He had a fresh Yeungling in one hand, a lit cigarette in the other.
His wife has recently told us she is expecting their first child, in December.
I asked Wife: “What’s that guy’s name again?”
Mike.
And then the fun began. Wife knew where I was going, before I even set out (as she usually does).
“Mike’s DONE. He just doesn’t know it yet,” she said.
Oh yeah, I said, enjoy that beer, Mike. Smoke ’em while you got ’em. Smoke three at a time.
The girls sat bickering in the back seat, as wife and I each climbed up the corner ropes, so as to better come down on Mike’s head with the flying suplex.
Every night, when Mike comes home from work, he grabs a beer and heads to his tiny detached garage and enjoys a smoke.
Done, done and done, Mikey ol’ boy.
Though, start fixing up that garage now, Mike, ’cause it’s going to be the only place “in the house” you can get any peace. While you’re at it, might want to install a lock ON THE INSIDE.
“Yeah,” Wife says, “that could be the BEST Father’s Day, right? When you know you are going to have a kid, but don’t yet.”
Typical disclaimer: No, neither one of us would trade this for anything. It’s just a big change. A completely different, wrenching, cold lead slug to the brain change.
Down the whole 12-pack, Mike. Shotgun a fifth of bourbon. Set the carton of Camels on fire.
Happy Father’s Day.
You are SO toast.
(Fade to sound of evil, knowing laughter.)

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“The Bigs,” as Wife and I sometimes call the two older daughters, have a saying: “Flashback.”
(I think that’s the word, something like that.) It means, “Back at you.” It’s a short version of the ultra-childish, old-school “I am rubber and you are glue/whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”
Gosh, I’m old.
So, this morning, at breakfast, Fontaine hit me with a “Flashback!” without even having to use the word. Maybe it wasn’t so much a “Flashback!” as it was a “BUUURN,” a la Kelso on “That ’70s Show.”
(See, even my references are old. Is that show still on? What next, a M*A*S*H reference?)
I was lamenting to Wife that the new college-student renters had woken me up at 3:(freaking)15 a.m. with their excessively loud conversation out on the sidewalk. I was not happy.
“I’m going to be a BIG problem for those people,” I said.
Wife, who is so much nicer and more strategic than I, suggested:
“Well, I hear you, but at least the first time we need to approach them reasonably, explain to them that a lot of people have kids and are sleeping at that time.”
Fontaine: “Dad, I don’t think you can do that, can you? I think you better wake up Mom and have her do it.”
Me, ignoring both of them, and even as I type this, I am starting to realize I might be coming across as a grump: “There’s just SOMETHING about a Southern woman’s voice — they can penetrate lead. And why does someone need a car alarm — BEEP BEEP BEEP — to get into his own car? Isn’t that for when someone else tries to get into your car?”
Fontaine looks over.
“See Dad, I really don’t think you can do this. Really. You’d better wake up Mom.”
Rubber….Glue.
BUUUURN.
“Flashback!”

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Disney almost always gets it right.
No detail is too small. No flaw is overlooked.
So a few months ago, when Wife sent me a picture of a new Disney Princess cup that Rosebud had picked out at Target, and when Wife questioned the placement of the straw in this cup, I gave the Disney Empire the benefit of the doubt (and wrote Wife off as a perv).
American marketing has a long history of slipping a little cheap sex into packaging, like the lovely maiden on the “Land O Lakes” butter package that can be folded into a Triple D suitable for one of Hugh Heffner’s girlfriends. And Joe Camel’s penis nose. These were obviously done for 13-year-old boys decades before the simpler times of today’s Internet porn (no hyperlink provided; find it yourself).
Anyway, I’ve now come to Wife’s side of thinking on Belle’s completely perverse drinking straw placement, and can’t believe it took me so long to write about it.
Look at her. You want your three-year-old daughter sucking liquid out of that? I love the way she’s got her arms folded across her chest, so prim, so proper, so demure — yet a ginormous Dirk Diggler poking out of her midsection and proclaiming its happiness to the world.
And it’s not just us. We just so happened to have left the Belle penis cup on a coffee table last month, while visiting Wife’s brother during Spring Break. First, Brother-in-Law comes downstairs, looks, and says, “Oh my god.”
Five minutes later, Sister-in-Law comes down, looks, and says, “What’s up with Belle?”
Well, do you mean WHAT is up with Belle, because that is pretty obvious, or do you mean, “Why did Disney put a straw where Belle’s thang would be?”
The Beauty sure doesn’t need The Beast when she’s dragging this thing around. Headline: Princess Arrested for Indecent Exposure.
Belle, please contact your doctor immediately, as this, this, this event has clearly exceeded four hours.
Couldn’t they have put the straw, well, just about anywhere else?

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