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Summer Reading

The car thermometer reads 84 degrees at a bright and sunny pickup.

Daddy violates the rules by bringing two little green bowls filled cashews, not just in the car, but onto the grounds. Papa doesn’t want to clean nut scraps from the creases in the back seat of the new car, so the whole flight attendant thing is kaput. They settle on a cement wall for their snack. Daddy finds a bush to throw the nuts in on short notice should a teacher wander by before sitting down with them.

D (brushing the hair back from her face): Cory, you’ve got a flush on.
C (popping a cashew in her mouth): What does that mean?
D: It means you look red. Flushed. Like you’ve been running. Have you been running?
C: Yes.
D: Did you have soccer today?
F: Yes, we did.
D: Did you have sunblock on?
C: No.
D: What! Cory, you have to have sunblock on before you play in the sun. Every time. You don’t have a flush on. You’ve got a little sunburn. Listen, you have to put sunblock on before you play in the sun, Cory, especially in the middle of the day.
C: Okay.
D: It’s important. The sun could burn you.

At home, Daddy and Cory sweat through some bounce-count as Fisher zooms up and down the street on his bike, chattering about the little pots with kale plants that some earth-crunchy organics organization left on each house’s doorsteps. He wants to collect them all and put the kale in one of Papa’s shakes. Daddy dissuades him from the project while working some balls toward Cory’s backhand.

After a tantrum, a timeout, and the rest of dinner, everyone settles on the backyard trampoline for some summertime bedtime reading. It’s still light. And warm.

C (heading in to draw their pictures about the chapter): You know, Daddy, I didn’t wear sunblock for that book.
D: What, Cory?
C: Mr. Sun was shining down, and I didn’t have sunblock on.
D (smiling): Oh, good point. When it’s this late in the day, it’s probably okay, but you’re right.
C: But, you said that I need to put sunblock on every time.
D: You are right. We should put some on every morning to make sure that you at least have some.
C (not looking thrilled to be right): But…
D: Yep, every morning, we are going to slather some on, at least on your nose and cheeks where your freckles live. Right after you brush your teeth.
C: Do we have to?
D: Yes. It’s another thing to add to the morning list…
C: Okay.
D: I’m so glad you brought that up. I’m so glad you made that point.

That makes one of us. She looks a little miffed as they settle at their art table to draw. They chatter about drawing the picture of Rick stealing “that man’s candy knocker” from the Land of Goodies, while Daddy stares outside at the fading light.

Daylight Savings rocks, haters.

A Five-Color Minimum

F: Um, Cory, why is Moon-Face’s house a white circle?

A few nights a week, Daddy reads The Magic Faraway Tree to the twins. After a chapter, they sit together at their art table, each to draw a picture depicting something from the chapter they just heard. They must use at least five colors, and the picture must contain “lots of detail.”

F: Cory, do you think this is enough details for Daddy?
C: Um, let me see. (Seeing.) Fisher, I think you could do some more with this tree because the tree has all those ladders in it.
F: Oh! Thanks, Cory. I’ll put some ladders in.

They apply finishing touches. “Ready, Daddy!” Fisher sits with his picture next to Daddy, while Cory hangs hers up on the filing cabinet for her presentation. She explains that she drew Moon-Face’s house, the branches of the tree, the grass, the sky, and Saucepan Man’s sauce pans falling down through the hole. Oh, and there are two orange circles with black dots in the middle to indicate two owls nests. They weren’t in the story, but she knows Daddy likes owls.

C (picking her lip): So, does anyone have any questions about my picture?
D: Yes, Cory. What are the green wiggles along the branches of the tree?
C: Oh! So, those are leaves. I didn’t have time to draw each leaf, so…(pause)…Fisher, do you have a question?
F: Um, Cory, why is Moon-Face’s house a white circle?
C (more lip-picking): So, I drew it to be a circle because his house is in the shape of the circle. It’s round, so…
F: Oh, I see. But, why is it white?
C (looking a little put off, resuming to pick): Um, well, I just made it white.
F: Did Moon-Face paint it white?
C: Um, he might have.
F: Or was it always just white?
C: Um, I think that…
F: I think he did. I think Moon-Face painted it white. That’s a very good detail, Cory.
C (quietly through her hand): Thanks, Fisher.
D: Very nice presentation, Cory. Very nice!

She smiles as they switch places. Daddy elects to keep it all positive for now, resisting the urge to nip the nervous tic in the bud as Fisher stands up and starts explaining pink grass all around his tree, which, although it wasn’t in the story, was caused by some magic that came from…

Consoling Gaby

It’s Parents Night Out (aka Parents Next Morning Sucks).

Daddy arrives at the playground to pick the twins up for a quick jaunt home to eat a vegetable before returning. A precocious classmate named Gaby comes over to Daddy and Fisher.

G (smiling big): Hi, Fisher!
F: Hi, Gaby.
G (to Daddy): Is Fisher going home?
D: Yes, but only for a few minutes. He’ll be back for Parents Night Out. Are you coming to Parents Night Out?
A switch suddenly flips, taking her from smiling to crying…and crying big.
G: No! I don’t ever get to go to Parents Night Out! (Sobs.) My mommy and daddy don’t ever let me go!
D (startled): I’m sorry, Gaby. I’m sure some time…
G: I don’t get to go Parents Night Out ever! It’s not fair.

Daddy looks around for Gaby’s mom or some other escape hatch.

D (looking back down): You know, I…
F (standing at Gaby’s side, lightly touching her back): Don’t cry, Gaby. Don’t cry. It’s okay. It’ll be okay.
G: But, I want to go, Fisher!
F (continued patting, lilting voice): But, it’s okay if you don’t go to Parents Night Out tonight because not everyone has to go to Parents Night Out. You could have fun anyway. And, you know I’ll bring you a dessert. I’ll just bring you a dessert from Parents Night Out. (She’s quieting down.) My papa makes very good cookies. They have chocolate chips in them…(patting away)…and you will really like them. They are even better than desserts at a Parents Night Out. You won’t miss something by not going.

Two feet above their heads, Daddy is smiling down at them. Gaby’s teary eyes are fixed on Fisher. She drops her shoulders, turns, throws her arms around Fisher, and lays her head down on his shoulder. He just stands there, arms at his side, fully (and a little awkwardly) hugged.

Moving Harry Potter

Fisher is excited to move the Harry Potter books from Daddy’s and Papa’s room into theirs. He brings them to Daddy one by one, until only the Half-Blood Prince is missing.

A couple thuds echo through the house, separated by Fisher mutterings, made unintelligible by Cory’s louder dialog with her doll. She’s trying to comb out some impossible knots in the girl’s hair before the two of them head out on a trip somewhere. Sounds like it could be Mexico.

D (loudly, from their room, to be heard over Cory): Fisher, you better not be making a mess in there. (Pause.) You better not be taking out all the other books from the nightstand without putting them back. (Pause.) Because if you just throw them all around in there that would make a huge mess. (Pause.) And, I don’t want to clean up another big mess, since I just cleaned up the big mess in your room. (Pause.) That wouldn’t be very fun for me.

Pause.

F: Okay, Daddy. I’m not making a mess.

More thuds. More muffled muttering. After a bit, Daddy walks in there.

D: Have you found the Half-Blood…(looking down at the nightstand)…um, Fisher…
F (smiling big and stepping around on his tiptoes): See, Daddy, I’m not making a mess in here. (Pause. Daddy stares.) What, Daddy? (Waving a Vanna hand.) Do you like my rows?
Daddy busts out laughing, before picking him up and throwing him, now laughing as well, on the bed.

Embracing Corcoran

Daddy notices a little something different on the top of the worksheets that Cory walks him through, exercise by exercise, in wonderful, exacting, painstaking, comprehensive detail.

D (pointing): What does this say?
C (smiling): Sometimes I like to write Corcoran instead of Cory. (Pause.) Sometimes I like people to call me Corcoran, but they just call me Cory.
D: Yah, they are probably more used to calling you Cory. Most people call me Mike, even though my full name is Michael.
C: I like Corcoran, but some people have trouble saying that right.
D: Me, too. You might never meet another person named Corcoran in your entire life.
C: There is another Fisher at Almond, but there isn’t another Corcoran.
D: True. I mean, there’s no Fisher like Fisher, but there is a Fisher. And, there’s no Corcoran at all, besides you. Would you prefer that we call you Corcoran instead of Cory?
C: No. I like Cory, too.
D: You know what?
C: What?
D: Ima call you something else that could be short for Corcoran instead of Cory.
C (smiling): What?
D: Ima call you Coco. That could be your name when you play tennis: Coco Medeiros.
C (making a yuck face): No, thank you, Daddy. I don’t want to be Coco.
D: No? Are you sure, Coco?
C (smiling again): Don’t call me Coco! I’m Cory.
D (tickling her): Okay, but I kind of like Coco Medeiros, too.
C: I don’t. Just Cory.
D: What about CC?
C: CC!?
D: Yah, CC Medeiros. I like it.
C: No, thank you. I’m only Cory.
D: Cory, Corcoran, Coco, CC all sound good to me.

Pause.

D: So, how many syllables does Corcoran have?
C: Um, three.

On to the next worksheet…