Wednesday, May 28, 2003


My children all come from the same genetic pool. I’m pretty sure of that—they all look like me, god help them, and there is absolutely no question about who their mother is. I saw ‘em all come out. Despite this, it is incredible how different Anna and PJ are becoming. I like to relate them to fictional characters. Blame it on me for watching too much television.

PJ is a ninja. If you ask him not to do something, he will look at you with the sweetest, most innocent face and say “okay, daddy.” Then, moments later, when you go to pick up the telephone or go to the toilet, when your guard is down for the smallest moment, he strikes. He runs to the kitchen table and grabs a chair, dragging it across the kitchen (this makes a fairly loud noise, so I wouldn’t say he is as silent as a ninja yet) and over to the cookie jar. He has a handful of cookies and is back in his chair by the time you look around. And if you ask him about it, he will look at you with that same sweet smile and lie, saying “No, I did not take dose cookies.” He carefully punches out each word carefully, and he seems so earnest that I really want to believe him. Maybe I ate the cookies? Ah, I’ll just put the chair back.

He won’t stay in his room either, when he goes to bed. But we can’t catch him. We will just here footsteps, and when I go up the stairs, the footsteps become more rapid and I hear the door slamming shut. When I peek in on him in his room he is lying in bed and making fake snoring noises. What can I do?

Anna, however, has none of this subtlety. Instead, she has a force of will that can be measured using the Richter scale. Recently, she found an old boat bag lying around and decided to fill it up with newspapers. Then, she reasoned, it was no fun to keep all of these old newspapers to herself, she wanted to distribute them to the entire neighborhood. “No, Anna,” I said, taking a deep breath. (Whenever I have any of these conversations I usually end up sighing a lot.) “The people in our neighborhood don’t want our old newspapers.”

“But daddy,” she said, her voice elevating towards a shrill wine, “I have to. It is my life”

Her life? Where did she get that from? Suddenly I had this image. I could picture her now in my head, on the bridge of the US Starship Enterprise, somehow morphed into a Klingon officer. “Captain, we must send these newspapers to the people of Kraal, or it will be a dishonor to myself and my family. If you cannot allow me to do this then I will have no choice but to resign from my commission here and retreat to my quarters where I will slowly and painfully kill myself with an Utusani blade, as is the custom of my people.”

My little daydream faded. Anna was still there and the siren was getting wound up. “Daaaaaahhhhhhhddyyy!” she was sniffling too, with those soap opera tears she gets. “I really really want to give people these newspapers.”

I didn’t have time to answer her though. PJ had gottten out some yogurt from the fridge and was proceeding to pour it down his shirt, and on the table, and on the floor, the dog, etc…

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