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MMR and Chicken Pox

At a rush-rush doctor’s appointment on Monday morning, after receiving a note from the school that state law requires proof of a second MMR inoculation before they can continue enrollment…

Dr. Niki: So, I’ll hop out and the nurse will be right in for the MMR and chicken pox.
C (door closes, eyes well, body moves in for a hug): But, Daddy, I don’t want a shot!
F: I don’t want one either.
D (hugging both): Listen, guys. The shot will only take a second, and it will only hurt a little bit.
C (through weak sobs): No, it’s going to hurt a lotta bit, Daddy. I don’t like a shot. Why do I need another one?
F: What is an MMR, Daddy?
D: It stands for measles, mumps, and rubella. Those are diseases.
C: What is a disease?
D: It’s something that makes you sick.
F: But, why we need a shot then?

Pause.

D: Think of it this way. Have I ever told you what some of Kleodora’s favorite spiders are named?
F/C (crying stops): No.
D: Well, one is named Measles. One is named Mumps. That’s a funny name, isn’t it?
F: Yes. That’s funny.
D: But, don’t laugh at his name, guys, no, no. Because he doesn’t like that. It makes him very mad. And the third one is named Rubella. Those are three very mean spiders, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. You don’t want to meet…
C: What about chicken pots?
D: Oh, Chicken Pox is a mean spider, too. You will have to remind me to tell you how he got named for a chicken. And, if one of them ever bites you, you are going to get so super sick. But, Dr. Niki has a potion that can keep you from getting sick, if you ever meet Measles, Mumps, or Rubella.
C: Or Chicken Pox?
D: Or Chicken Pox. And, the only way to take Dr. Niki’s potion is by a shot. So…
F: So, Dr. Niki is like a good witch?
D (witch doctor?): Yes, kind of, and let me tell you, the little bit of ouch that you get from the shot is waaaaay better than the lotta bit of ouch you would get from one of those mean diseases.

Two nurses, deployed together when twins are involved (presumably so that one doesn’t see the other get the jab and go postal), situate Daddy directly between Cory and Fisher on the exam table, and Daddy keeps babbling…

D (holding each’s hand): So, we are going to get ready in just a second for the shot. It’s not going to be that bad, but before we…(nodding to the nurses, who swab the area)…do we need to remember that even after we get the shot…(nurses simultaneously bring the needles down while the kids are paying attention to Daddy)…here in a few minutes, we still don’t want to meet Measles, Mumps, or Rubella, so it’s good when we get the shot here in a few minutes…

N (moving to apply band-aids): All done.
D: Wait, what? Did you guys already get a shot? (Cory and Fisher nod.) Did you feel anything? (Blank looks.) Well, I was going to tell you some more things before that…I can’t believe that it went by so quickly…I guess that potion just went right in super quick, huh?

On the way home, shots forgotten, inoculated against dark MMR-spider magic, suckers in mouth, forms signed, and state laws satisfied, the muffled talk from the back seat is of prizes and stickers chosen. She picked Ariel, and he chose Buzz Lightyear.

Pucker-Joop’s Rainbow Flower

D: Have I told you the one about Pucker-joop and the Rainbow Flower?
F:  What’s a pucker-jew?
D (emphasizing the final “p”):  No, his name is Pucker-joop.
C:  Tell us, Daddy.
D:  Well, Pucker-joop is a gardening gnome.  Do you know what a gardening gnome is?
F/C:  No.
D:  A gardening gnome is a gnome whose song of power causes plants to grow so big and green and healthy and flowers to grow so bright and strong and colorful that it’s magical to visit a gardening gnome’s garden.  You never forget it, no, no.  Everyone wants to see a garden like that…
C:  Daddy, I want to see a garden like that.
D:  Well, there are two problems, Cory Bee.  The first problem is that gardening gnomes only live in Dark Wing Forest.  (Pause.)  And, do you know where Dark Wing Forest is?
F/C:  In Witchy Land!
D:  That’s right.  And it’s too dangerous to go to Witchy Land now that Kleodora lives there, right?
F:  Right.  Kleodora is a bad witch, right, Daddy?
D:  Very bad, Fisher.  Well, the gardening gnomes used to tend to all of Dark Wing Forest, before Kleodora moved in and before she brought her spiders and her peacocks with their cold grey eyes and before it was even called Dark Wing Forest.  But, some gardening gnomes still live there, but only on the very south part of the forest.
F:  What is south, Daddy?
D:  Wow, that’s complicated.  Let’s just say it’s the bottom part of the forest, Fisher, at the farthest point in the Forest from the north, where Kleodora’s dark castle is, okay?
F:  Okay.
D:  One of the few remaining gardening gnomes in Dark Wing Forest is Pucker-joop.  Now, Pucker-joop wanted to have a birthday party for his Daddy, who was turning 100 that year.  So, he sent secret word to all of the other gardening gnomes to come to his gardens on his Daddy’s birthday.  He wanted to keep it secret, not from his Daddy, no, no, but from Kleodora.  Kleodora doesn’t like gardening gnomes, and she doesn’t like birthday parties.  Pucker-joop began weeks before to prepare for the party.  Do you know how he prepared?
F/C:  No.
D:  He walked circles around his garden, singing his song of power over and over to make sure that his gardens were green and healthy and his flowers were bright and colorful.  But, he spent extra time on the south end of his garden where he drew a special circle on the…
C:  How does his song of power go, Daddy?
D (reaching):  Well, a gnome’s song of power is hard to describe.  It doesn’t have words exactly, no, no.  It sounds to people’s ears more like humming.  Pucker-joop’s song of power sounds something like this:  (Low at first, then higher, then back down) Mmmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmmmm.
F/C (transfixed):  Do it again!
D:  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmm.  In the south end of his garden, he drew a circle in the earth with his staff, and he spent more time there than anywhere else in his garden, singing his song of power, mmmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmmm.  And pretty soon, a green shoot began peeking up through the dirt, rising to the sky, and branching out into a plant bigger than a bush but smaller than most trees.  Do you know what the leaves looked like?
F/C:  No.
D:  They looked like hibiscus leaves, and as the day of his Daddy’s party approached, Pucker-joop spent more and more time singing his song of power near that plant.   He hoped that plant would wow his Daddy, who was a very, very powerful gardening gnome.  Pucker-joop just wanted his Daddy to smile and be happy on his 100th birthday and be proud of his son.  So, he sang his song of power, more deeply and more powerfully every day.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmmm.

Pause.

D:  Well, come here guys, cuddle closer because this part of the story is a bit tougher because you know, you can’t just go and sing that kind of song of power in Dark Wing Forest without Kleodora hearing, no matter how far away you might be.

Cory and Fisher cuddle in close.

D:  One afternoon, a couple days before the party for Pucker-joop’s Daddy, Kleodora stopped plotting how to bring her brother Zagrimor back from our world.  Clutching her chest, she let out a scream because she knew something good and beautiful was happening somewhere in Dark Wing Forest.  She rushed immediately to the pool of darkest ink in her evil gardens.  Do you think that pool was filled with water, guys?
F:  I don’t know.
C:  No.
D:  Do you know what that pool was filled with?
F/C:  No.
D:  It was filled with…no!  I can’t tell you, no, no.  It looked to be filled with the darkest, blackest, light-killing ink you could ever imagine.  Still clutching her chest with one hand, Kleodora waved the other over that pool, barking words that I dare not say, no, no.  And, the…ink…let’s call it, ink…began to swirl round and round and round and pictures began to form in that pool, and suddenly Kleodora could see Pucker-joop in his garden, singing his song of power so deeply and so powerfully by his party bush that flowers were beginning to form.  Those flowers looked like hibiscus flowers, like we have in our own back yard, but they were twice as big, and do you know what they colors they were?
C:  Pink?
F:  Orange?
D:  Some were the pinkest pink Witchy Land had ever seen.  And some were orangier than even the orangest orange, Fisher.  And some were bluer than the bluest sky and purpler than ripe plums and yellower than a bee’s stripes and there were even some that were golden gold and silvery silver.  There had been bushes like this before in Dark Wing Forest, for sure, and there had been flowers this big on them, but never had a single bush had flowers of different colors.  That’s why Pucker-joop had spent so many hours singing his song of power so deeply and so often, to create this bush with its flowers of so many colors.   It was beautiful.  And amazing.  Now, do you know what Kleodora did when she saw that kind of beauty in the inky blackness of her pool?
F/C:  No!
D:  She screeched an evil screech, as if she had the worst kind of boo-boo…
F:  Like a bee stinged her on the hand?
D:  It’s “stung,” not “stinged,” and worse, Fisher!  Her screech was blood-curdling, and that kind of screech brought her spiders scurrying out of the depths of her castle to protect Kleodora.  Now, were those spiders bigger or smaller than Daddy’s hand?
F:  Bigger!
C:  No, Daddy!  I don’t like the spiders!
D:  They are bigger than Daddy’s hand, bigger than Quincy, and even bigger than Boston.  They are about the size of Kohl.  That’s how big they were.  Their legs clacked together as they formed a circle around Kleodora.  Time was short and the distance long, so Kleodora began casting her spell right then, drawing her black robes around her, mumbling at first, so low, you couldn’t even hear it over the spider legs clacking but rising louder and louder as Kleodora stood taller and taller, casting not just a spell of deepest darkest poison on her spiders but a spell of dark-as-night quickness on them.  Her spell ended with a cry that I can’t repeat for you here, but trust me, no one wants to hear “Go!” (clutching the twins in the dark so they flinch) screamed by Kleodora in the language of witches.  It rang out like a thunderclap throughout Dark Wing Forest.
C:  Daddy, I don’t like that part!
D:  I don’t either, Cory.  That’s a good part not to like, trust me.  Well, the next day was the day before the party, and as Pucker-joop sang his song of power and made the rounds of his garden, coming to rest, as he had every afternoon at the base of his Rainbow Bush, those evil Kleodora spiders were rushing through Dark Wing Forest, bringing night where there should be day and frightening every good thing brave enough still to live within reach of Kleodora’s power.  Do you know where they were going, guys?
C:  To his garden.
F:  I don’t like those spiders, Daddy!
D:  At midnight the night before the party, the moon was full, and in the light of that moon, the Rainbow Bush was beautiful, even with its flowers closed for the night.  Those closed flowers still shone silvery silver, golden gold, pinkest pink, orangest orange, double plum purple, redder than red, bluer than blue, and yellowest of yellow.  Until…(pause)…from the line where Dark Wing Forest meets Pucker-joop’s garden, a clacking cloud of spider legs rushed forward like the roll of an earthquake through the ground.  Do you think Pucker-joop woke up at that sound?

Silence.

D:  No, no!  Singing his song of power so deeply and so often every day caused Pucker-joop to sleep so soundly that not even the clacking of spider legs could wake him.  Nor did the gurgle of those spiders piercing each flower on the Rainbow Bush and draining it of all color.  Nor did the sound of Kleodora cackling in her evil delight as she watched in the inky dark pool how her spiders were spoiling Pucker-joop’s gift.
F:  Oh, no!
C:  I don’t like that, Daddy!
D:  Now, when Pucker-joop woke the next day, he planned to sing his most powerful song yet, to make sure that each flower on the Rainbow Bush opened up bigger than big with colors brighter than bright for the party day, but when he came within sight of his gift, he fell to his knees and began to weep.  That bush didn’t have big, beautiful, bright flowers ready to open, no, no.  It had dark black husks where those flowers should have been, drained of all color, and smoking black in the morning light.  That’s where Honey-dew found him in the middle of the morning, just hours before the guests, including their Daddy, were to arrive.  Weeping by his Rainbow Bush.  Honey-dew rushed to her brother’s side, dropped to her knees with him, held his hands in hers, and pressed her head to his.  In that instant, she knew what he had planned and what Kleodora had done to ruin those plans.  At that moment, they both could hear Kleodora’s evil cackling from all the way across Dark Wing Forest.  And, do you know what Honey-dew began to do?
F/C:  No!
D:  Did she start crying, too?
F:  I don’t know.
D:  No, no!  She began to sing her own song of power.  And as Pucker-joop heard his sister’s song, he stopped crying and began to sing his song as well, and as their voices were joined, what had been the beautiful flowers on the Rainbow Bush stopped smoking.  Pucker-joop and Honey-dew continued with their songs of power, with mournful notes mixed in, and as they did, the black husks fell from the Rainbow Bush.  Watching from afar in her inky black pool, Kleodora just laughed.  Pucker-joop and Honey-dew didn’t stop singing though, no, no.  They re-doubled their efforts, still holding hands, and still singing more deeply than they ever had before.  Sweat began to form on their brows, because the poison of Kleodora’s spiders had entered the Gift Bush and had started to make it falter and turn sick.  But, as they sang, the green leaves, which had begun to turn grey at the edges, became greener than green again.  And, they kept singing.  On their knees.  With such beauty and sadness that at the top of the Rainbow Bush, one flower began to form.  Kleodora’s cackle of glee was a touch less gleeful as doubt began to creep into her mind.
F:  Daddy, what is doubt?
D:  Hmmm.  She wasn’t sure that she would win.  She didn’t know.  She thought, maybe just a little bit, that she might lose and that Pucker-joop and Honey-dew might be able to heal the Rainbow Bush.
F:  Oh.  Did they heal that bush, Daddy?
D:  Well, they tried, but when the big flower at the top of the Rainbow Bush opened up, do you think it was pinker than pink?
C:  Yes!
D:  No.  Do you think it was yellowest of yellows?
F:  No?
D:  No.  It wasn’t purple or blue or red or orange or any of those colors.  Do you know what color it was?
C:  No.
D:  It was grey.  It was the greyest of greys.  It wasn’t bright.  It wasn’t cheery.  It was a flower, and it was big, but it was grey, guys.  Pucker-joop and Honey-Dew collapsed in exhaustion.  They couldn’t sing anymore.  And Kleodora saw their exhaustion in her inky dark pool.  And she cackled.  And cackled.  And cackled some more.

Pause.

D:  And, as Kleodora cackled, and Pucker-joop and Honey-dew lay exhausted on the garden grass, staring upward, and as their Daddy rode to meet them there for his party, do you know what Pucker-joop and Honey-dew saw?
F/C (excited):  No!
D:  From the edge of the forest, they saw the tiniest hint of blue flit out of the trees.  Back in the trees.  And then out again.  Do you know what it was?
F/C:  No!
D:  It was a hummingbird!  A blue hummingbird!
F:  Daddy, was it Oogala?
D:  It was, Fisher!  It was!  And then out of the forest, came a red one…
C:  Makala!
D:  And a green one, Boogala, and a yellow one…
F:  Choogala!
D:  They hovered in the air over the party bush, as hummingbirds can do, and they fluttered their wings to create their own song of power.  And soon their orange brother and purple sister, whose names everyone has forgotten, joined them, fluttering over Pucker-joop’s and Honey-dew’s heads in a circle of power.  And at the sound of all those wings humming, Kleodora’s cackle faltered.
F (excited):  Daddy!  What did they do?
D:  First, Oogala darted downward, dipping his beak into the grey flower, and do you know what happened?
F/C:  No!
D:  Streaks of blue spread out through the grey.  Oogala darted back up to add his wings back to his siblings’ song of power.  And then Choogala darted down, dipped her beak in, and stripes of yellowest yellow spread out through that flower.  Up flew Choogala, and do you know what Kleodora did when that happened?
F/C:  No!
D:  She screamed!  She was so mad!  But, down darted Makala, and she added her red to that flower.  Up she sprinted, and Kleodora screamed again.  Down came the orange hummingbird.  Kleodora screamed.  But, Pucker-joop and Honey-dew began to smile.  They climbed back to their knees.  Down came Boogala.  And Kleodora screamed.  Down darted the purple hummingbird.  And while Kleodora fell to her knees, screaming in agony, writhing in anger, Pucker-joop and Honey-dew joined their Mmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmm to the hummingbird’s song of power.  And the Rainbow Flower was born.  Never had Witchy Land seen one flower with every color imaginable in it.  From the corner of their eyes, Pucker-joop and Honey-dew could see a little flash of white zipping from tree to tree in the shadows on the edge of Dark Wing Forest.  Oogala and Makala and his sisters and her brothers turned once to Pucker-joop and Honey-dew, in good-bye, and then flew toward the flashes of white and disappeared.
C:  What was the white thing, Daddy?
D:  It was…well, no, not tonight, guys.  At that moment, just when Pucker-joop and Honey-dew were exhausted, and the hummingbirds had taken wing, and the most beautiful flower the world had every seen was blooming, Daddy and the other party guests arrived.  While the guests stood transfixed by the beauty of the Rainbow Flower, their Daddy rushed forward, seeing only his two children on their knees.  He took one of Pucker-joop’s hands.  He took one of Honey-dew’s hands, and when he did, he knew all that had happened.  Quietly, he sang a short song of power that only a Daddy can sing, and that song wiped away Pucker-joop’s and Honey-dew’s exhaustion.  They weren’t tired anymore, no, no.  Standing up, they all hugged and cried.  Together they stood staring at the Rainbow Flower, the most beautiful flower that had ever bloomed.  Do you think they cried because they were sad?
F:  I don’t know.
D:  No, no!  They cried because they were happy, especially Daddy, because of all that they had gone through to give him a special gift on his birthday.

Pause.

D:  And since then, the Rainbow Flower has bloomed every day in Pucker-joop’s garden in the south part of Dark Wing Forest.  And folks come from far and wide, gardening gnomes or not, to catch a glimpse of that Rainbow Flower.  And if you come in the middle of the afternoon, you just might hear Pucker-joop making the rounds of those gardens, stopping extra long at the Rainbow Flower…Mmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmmmm…
F:  Can you tell that story again, Daddy?
D:  Yes, I can, Fisher, yes, I can.  But, not tonight.  It’s time for bed.

Pucker-Joop and the Rainbow Flower, Part I

Fisher walks along the pumpkin patch in the back yard one morning, waving a pinwheel. Daddy can see his mouth moving. Daddy walks to the back door to hear what he is saying.

F: Mmmmmmmmmmm (low humming)-hmmmmmmmmmmmm (higher humming)-mmmmmmmmm (back to even lower humming).

Ah. Daddy smiles. He’s just doing what any good gardening gnome would in the morning.

D: Have I told you the one about Pucker-joop and the Rainbow Flower?
F: What’s a pucker-jew?
D (emphasizing the final “p”): No, his name is Pucker-joop.
C: Tell us, Daddy.
D: Well, Pucker-joop is a gardening gnome. Do you know what a gardening gnome is?
F/C: No.
D: A gardening gnome is a gnome whose song of power causes plants to grow so big and green and healthy and flowers to grow so bright and strong and colorful that it’s magical to visit a gardening gnome’s garden. You never forget it, no, no. Everyone wants to see a garden like that…
C: Daddy, I want to see a garden like that.
D: Well, there are two problems, Cory Bee. The first problem is that gardening gnomes only live in Dark Wing Forest. (Pause.) And, do you know where Dark Wing Forest is?
F/C: In Witchy Land!
D: That’s right. And it’s too dangerous to go to Witchy Land now that Kleodora lives there, right?
F: Right. Kleodora is a bad witch, right, Daddy?
D: Very bad, Fisher. Well, the gardening gnomes used to tend to all of Dark Wing Forest, before Kleodora moved in and before she brought her spiders and her peacocks with their cold grey eyes and before it was even called Dark Wing Forest. But, some gardening gnomes still live there, but only in the very south part of the forest.
F: What is south, Daddy?
D: Wow, that’s complicated. Let’s just say it’s the bottom part of the forest, Fisher, at the farthest point in the Forest from the north, where Kleodora’s dark castle is, okay?
F: Okay.
D: One of the few remaining gardening gnomes in Dark Wing Forest is Pucker-joop. Now, Pucker-joop wanted to have a birthday party for his Daddy, who was turning 100 that year. So, he sent secret word to all of the other gardening gnomes to come to his gardens on his Daddy’s birthday. He wanted to keep it secret, not from his Daddy, no, no, but from Kleodora. Kleodora doesn’t like gardening gnomes, and she doesn’t like birthday parties. Pucker-joop began weeks before to prepare for the party. Do you know how he prepared?
F/C: No.
D: He walked circles around his garden, singing his song of power over and over to make sure that his gardens were green and healthy and his flowers were bright and colorful. But, he spent extra time on the south end of his garden where he drew a special circle on the…
C: How does his song of power go, Daddy?
D (reaching): Well, a gnome’s song of power is hard to describe. It doesn’t have words exactly, no, no. It sounds to people’s ears more like humming. Pucker-joop’s song of power sounds something like this: (Low at first, then higher, then back down) Mmmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmmmm.
F/C (transfixed): Do it again!
D: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmm. In the south end of his garden, he drew a circle in the earth with his staff, and he spent more time there than anywhere else in his garden, singing his song of power, mmmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmmm. And pretty soon, a green shoot began peeking up through the dirt, rising to the sky, and branching out into a plant bigger than a bush but smaller than most trees. Do you know what the leaves looked like?
F/C: No.
D: They looked like hibiscus leaves, and as the day of his Daddy’s party approached, Pucker-joop spent more and more time singing his song of power near that plant. He hoped that plant would wow his Daddy, who was a very, very powerful gardening gnome. Pucker-joop just wanted his Daddy to smile and be happy on his 100th birthday and be proud of his son. So, he sang his song of power, more deeply and more powerfully every day.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmmmmmmm.

Pause.

D: Well, come here guys, cuddle closer because this part of the story is a bit tougher because you know, you can’t just go and sing that kind of song of power in Dark Wing Forest without Kleodora hearing, no matter how far away you might be.

Cory and Fisher cuddle in close.

D: One afternoon, a couple days before the party for Pucker-joop’s Daddy, Kleodora stopped plotting how to bring her brother Zagrimor back from our world. Clutching her chest, she let out a scream because she knew something good and beautiful was happening somewhere in Dark Wing Forest. She rushed immediately to the pool of darkest ink in her evil gardens. Do you think that pool was filled with water, guys?
F: I don’t know.
C: No.
D: Do you know what that pool was filled with?
F/C: No.
D: It was filled with…no!  I can’t tell you, no, no. It looked to be filled with the darkest, blackest, light-killing ink you could ever imagine. But, I can’t tell you what it is. Still clutching her chest with one hand, Kleodora waved the other over that pool, barking words that I dare not say, no, no. And, the…ink…let’s call it, ink…began to swirl round and round and round and pictures began to form in that pool, and suddenly Kleodora could see Pucker-joop in his garden, singing his song of power so deeply and so powerfully by his party bush that flowers were beginning to form. Those flowers looked like hibiscus flowers, like we have in our own back yard, but they were twice as big, and do you know what they colors they were?
C: Pink?
F: Orange?
D: Some were the pinkest pink Witchy Land had ever seen. And some were orangier than even the orangest orange, Fisher. And some were bluer than the bluest sky and purpler than ripe plums and yellower than a bee’s stripes and there were even some that were golden gold and silvery silver. There had been bushes like this before in Dark Wing Forest, for sure, and there had been flowers this big on them, but never had a single bush had flowers of different colors. That’s why Pucker-joop had spent so many hours singing his song of power so deeply and so often, to create this bush with its flowers of so many colors. It was beautiful. And amazing. Now, do you know what Kleodora did when she saw that kind of beauty in the inky blackness of her pool?
F/C: No!
D: She screeched an evil screech, as if she had the worst kind of boo-boo…
F: Like a bee stinged her on the hand?
D: It’s “stung,” not “stinged,” and worse, Fisher! Her screech was blood-curdling, and that kind of screech brought her spiders scurrying out of the depths of her castle to protect Kleodora. Now, were those spiders bigger or smaller than Daddy’s hand?
F: Bigger!
C: No, Daddy! I don’t like the spiders!
D: They are bigger than Daddy’s hand, bigger than Quincy, and even bigger than Boston. They are about the size of Kohl. That’s how big they were. Their legs clacked together as they formed a circle around Kleodora. Time was short and the distance long, so Kleodora began casting her spell right then, drawing her black robes around her, mumbling at first, so low, you couldn’t even hear it over the spider legs clacking but rising louder and louder as Kleodora stood taller and taller, casting not just a spell of deepest darkest poison on her spiders but a spell of dark-as-night quickness on them. Her spell ended with a cry that I can’t repeat for you here, but trust me, no one wants to hear “Go!” (clutching the twins in the dark so they flinch) screamed by Kleodora in the language of witches. It rang out like a thunderclap throughout Dark Wing Forest.
C: Daddy, I don’t like that part!
D: I don’t either, Cory. That’s a good part not to like, trust me. Well, the next day was the day before the party, and as Pucker-joop sang his song of power and made the rounds of his garden, coming to rest, as he had every afternoon at the base of his Rainbow Bush, those evil Kleodora spiders were rushing through Dark Wing Forest, bringing night where there should have been day and frightening every good thing brave enough still to live within reach of Kleodora’s power. Do you know where they were going, guys?
C: To his garden…

A Bigger Jar

The change from pre-school to T-K followed by on-campus YMCA-provided after-care has brought the twins fewer activities that involve colorful little beads and more activities that involve older kids.  Older kids apparently shoot dirty looks.  “Daddy, I didn’t like that.”  Or walk into the “one-seater” bathroom unannounced.  “He’s not suss-posed to do that, Daddy!”  Or simply “don’t like” them…

Miss Olyvia informs Daddy that the parent of an after-care classmate has complained about Fisher pushing her son.  A request is lodged to reinforce the “keep your hands to yourself” rule.  “Of course.”  Later, walking home…

D:  Fisher, did you push someone today at the YMCA?

Fisher is holding Daddy’s hand.  He doesn’t answer.

D: Fisher, Miss Olyvia said that you pushed someone today.  Did you do that?

Continued silence.

D:  Fisher, you can always tell Daddy and Papa the truth.  No matter what it is.  We are here to love and help you.  And that’s it.  It’s harder for us to help if we don’t know what’s happening.  So, did you push someone today at the Y?
F:  Yes.
D:  Why did you do that?
F:  Because he pushed me first.
D:  He did?  Why did he do that?
F:  He jus’ did.

Over dinner…

D:  Hey, Fisher, what’s the name of the boy who pushed you today at the YM…
F (‘rupting):  Daddy, I got you something!
D:  What?  I asked you a ques…
F:  I got you something.  I show you.  (Beaming and pulling a dirty one-inch screw out of his pocket and handing it to Daddy.)
D:  Thanks, Fisher!  That’s awesome.  Do you know what that is?
F:  A screw.  I got it for you.
D (wondering what chair or table, now missing a screw, might collapse):  Where did you get it?
F (hedging, something’s up):  I jus’ found it, Daddy.  And I didn’t take it from anyone.  I got it for you.
D:  Thanks, Fisher.  I love it.  (Pause.)  But, I asked you a question.  What was the name of the boy that pushed you?
F:  I don’t remember.
P:  He just walked up to you and pushed you?  Why did he push you?
F:  He just doesn’t like me.

The screw joins a square blue tile, looking very much like it was chipped out of a large mosaic, that Fisher presented to Daddy the prior week.  When questioned where Fisher got the tile, Cory joined him to provide combined assurances that “it isn’t someone else’s” and that he “didn’t just take it from anyone” and that “I just found it, Daddy, so it’s okay.”

Daddy thought to retire the jar of gift beads (sometimes stickers, sometimes seeds, sometimes a dead roly-poly, sometimes unidentifiable other debris) that Fisher had been either presenting to Daddy or stuffing surreptitiously into Daddy’s pockets every day at pick up from preschool.  Guess it’s time for a bigger jar.