Since Papa turned 44 in May, the human members of this family have had no other number in their ages but four, a condition called, around here at least, “Fours Wild.” All good (and rare) things must come to an end, so as time prepares to flip a digit in his age, Daddy and the twins drop Papa off at the airport and begin the final celebration: four store visits (Nordstrom, Cold Stone, Target, and Diddam’s), four escalator rides at Nordstrom (pure heaven for two four-year-olds and utterly annoying for well-to-do patrons looking to overpay), four toppings per sundae (caramel and…well, who really cares, after caramel?), four packages of stickers each (to be used to make Daddy’s birthday cards), and so on.
At bedtime, after reading four books…
F: We are going to be Fives Wild soon, right, Daddy?
D: No, Fisher. Fives Wild would mean that Papa and Daddy are 55 when you guys are each five. That can’t happen.
C: But, we will each have a five.
D: But, you see, the fives won’t be completely wild because, Papa and Daddy will each still have a four, so…
F: But, I think fives are going to go wild, Daddy, after Halloween…
C: When we turn five.
F: And then we can have five rides on the escavator.
Miss Cory was handing out stars to Daddy and Fisher this morning for using our nice words at breakfast. Daddy was apparently very nice, except when Cory asked about where Daddy would hang this picture…
C: But, Daddy, so, do you have enough room at your work to hang this picture?
D: Sure, I can…
C: But, Daddy, you have so many pictures I draw you hanging at work, like Pucker-jew’s Rainbow Flower and Pete the Cat’s shoes and the caterpillar family, so are you sure you have room? You can hang this in your office at home iffin you don’t.
D (thinking, uh oh, never bring Cory to my work…since most of those pics aren’t, um, hanging there): I have more room at work for this one, Cory, sure. Besides, Auntie Jen will definitely want to see this one.
C: Okay, Daddy. That’s okay then, Daddy.
Daddy visited Beijing two summers ago for work. The client arranged for an impressive lunch for the American contingent on the first day, the main course of which was a black leathery tube drowned in some kind of orange sauce. With gag-inducing texture and taste, significant portions of that black leathery tube remained on every other American’s plate, pushed around a little bit, hidden under the sauce, at the end of the course…except for Daddy’s. For some reason, Daddy felt the need, as the most senior lawyer on the trip, to choke that thing down…after which, Daddy promptly resigned his role as advance culinary guard and refused to eat much of anything native for the remainder of the week.
D: Guys, do you know what delicacy Daddy ate in China?
F: What does “delicy” mean, Daddy?
D: A delicacy is a food that people really like to eat, but don’t get to eat very often. A delicacy for you is gum, but a delicacy for people in China is a sea cucumber. Now, do you think a sea cucumber is green like a cucumber is?
C: I don’t know.
D: No, no! A sea cucumber is an animal, not a plant, and it can be many colors, but usually not green. The one Daddy ate was black. And, do you know what it tasted like, guys?
D: No! Blech, no! It tasted like a tire.
C: Like a tire? Like on the Suburban?
D: Yes! Do you think a tire tastes good? Let’s go outside. (Gesturing.) I want you each to take a bite of a nasty, rubbery, gritty, dirty, leathery, disgusting tire, so you can understand what a sea cucumber tastes like, okay?
F/C (laughing): No!
D: Well, you would not be able to eat one bite, I tell you. You would probably spit it out and ask why that thing has “cucumber” in its name…
To get across the enormous grossness of the experience, Daddy later shows them a YouTube video of a sea cucumber moving along the ocean bottom, pooping. “You ate that, Daddy?” “Did you cut it up, Daddy?” “Was it dead, Daddy?” “Did you eat that poop, too, Daddy?” Although there is no evidence to support the theory, Daddy is sure that some of the dreams so bad that they can’t remember them even minutes later involve Daddy dining on a slimy sea cucumber. But, since then, in the light of the day, whenever Daddy wants to get them laughing at a mealtime…
D: Who wants pepper on their eggs?
F: I do, Daddy!
D: And who wants some sea cucumber on their scrambled eggs?
F/C (laughing): No!
D: Come on, guys. Let me grind up a little bit of leathery black sea cucumber and sprinkle it on your eggs!
D: If you don’t let me, those eggs aren’t even going to taste like a tire.
D: Are you sure you don’t want some nasty, disgusting, sea cucumber chips? I got some specially…
D: I paid good money for these, and I’ve got plenty right here…
F/C: No, Daddy, no!
It’s hard to know to what this interest might be leading later in life, likely nowhere good, but a favorite video, either first thing in the morning, just before eating breakfast, or later in the evening, just after eating dinner, is of an underwater pooping tube making its way across the ocean floor…
An essential skill in a pre-school teacher is the ability to gracefully, but forcefully, peel a crying kid off of a parent at drop-off. She (usually she) makes soothing sounds, the hands begin the peeling process, the arms encircle, the head nods at the parent, in the direction of the exit, clearly saying: Get out now! That skill proves useful in a kindergarten teacher as well, as Fisher suffers another random attack of clinginess on Monday morning.
Cory, on the other hand, has not been given (recently) to fits of any kind, outbursts in the car, clinginess in the schoolyard, tummy aches at the soccer field. It could be that she just yins when he yangs, but perhaps those nights of smoothing out her dreams by sleeping in her bed come at a cost to him.