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Of Shark Pee and Baby Pools

D: Did you guys get to swim more yesterday at the Y?
C: Yes, but we only got to go in the baby pool.
F (serious tone): Yah, and babies pee in that pool.
D (laughing): They do? Are you sure? How do you know?
F: Babies go in there, and babies don’t know. They just don’t know. So, they go pee in there.
D: Well…
C: I got to do head bobs…
D: And people could go under water and open their mouths and get baby pee in their mouths.
C: …and kicks and my teacher got in the pool so…
F: I went under water and came back up and I had some eh, er, uh water in my mouth, so…
C: …I could swim more.
F: I got baby pee in my mouth, Daddy!
D: Well, they put chemicals in the pool to keep it as clean and safe as possible.
F (horrified, associating cleaning chemicals with the bottles in the house they are not to touch): They put chemicals in there!?
D: Yes, and…
F: Do I get those er, uh, eh chemicals in my mouth with the baby pee?!
D: Well, I suppose yes, but…
F: I don’t like that, Daddy.
D: But, there is so much water in the pool and so many good chemicals in there, that it is okay to swim.
F: Are you sure?
C: Dolphins go pee in the ocean.

Pause.

F: Is that right, Daddy?
D: Yes. They go pee in there, and so do whales and sharks.
C: And fish. And they go poo, too.
F: Ew! They just pee and poo in the ocean?
C: Uh huh, because they don’t know. They don’t just have a bathroom or something.
D: Guys, think about all the water in the ocean, though, there is so much water in the ocean…
F: Is there infinity water in the ocean?
D: Well, no, not infinity because that would mean that it goes on forever, but there’s still a lot. And dolphin pee is just a teeny tiny bit of the whole ocean.
F: Can people see shark poo in the ocean?
D: Theoretically, yes, but practically no because…
F: What does that mean?
D: Well, like I said, there is SO much ocean and so little shark poo that it doesn’t even matter.
C: Are shark babies bigger than…um…uh…babies?
D: Than human babies?
C: Yah.
D: Yes. Actually, no. It depends on how big the sharks are when they are bigger. Actually, I don’t know, generally whether when most sharks come out, they are bigger than…
F: Do shark babies swim in their own pool?
D: What? No, shark babies just…
C: So, they are smaller than people babies?
D (getting exasperated): No, I said that it depends on…
F: But, you said that sharks go poo AND pee in the ocean, so don’t they just go pee in there?
C: Does it depend on whether the shark baby is a boy baby or girl baby?
D (pulling into camp parking lot): Guys! Guys…
F: Well, you said! You said that sharks go pee right eh, er, uh in the ocean. You said it, Daddy. (With ‘tude.) So…what!? What, Daddy? What?
D: We’re here! Grab your backpacks.
F: What, Daddy? Does that mean that baby sharks just get their pee in their own mouths?

Daddy pushes the two through de-carring and arrival procedures. Almost in the camp quarters…

C: Daddy, does that mean that all shark babies are girl babies since girls are smaller than boys?
D (smiling at another parent and thinking “Did I miss something?”): That’s a good question, Cory. Can you remember to ask me that one again today after camp?
C: Yes.
D: And, we’ll puzzle it through then, okay?
C: Okay, Daddy.

Papa was the one to pick them up from camp. No further word on baby pee in baby pools, shark pee in baby shark mouths, or the shark-human size-sex tangle.

You Can Just Grow One?

Cory picks up a photo album on Daddy’s desk. Daddy had brought it home on Sunday. It had been packed away in Aunt Lori’s basement for years.

C (looking at the first picture): Daddy, who is that girl?
D: Heather.
C: Is she your friend?
D: Yes, she’s my very good friend. I was with her this weekend. Did you know that I met her 30 years ago?
C: Oh, my gosh. That’s a lot a bit of years. (Pause.) Have I met her?
D: No, not yet. She lives in Michigan. But, she wants us all to go on a Disney cruise together.
C (gasping then smiling): Really!? Can we go?
D: We’ll see.

Pause.

C: Why does she have that hat on backwards?
D: Um, maybe because she wants to be silly? Maybe she wants to make sure that the front of the hat doesn’t hide her face for the picture.
C: Oh.

Pause.

C (pointing): Daddy, what’s that?
D: What?
C (emphasizing with her finger pointed at Daddy): That!
D: That’s a mustache.
C: A mustache? You had a mustache?
D: Yes, sadly.
C: Was it real or could you take it off?
D: It was real hair.
C (screwing up her face): Oh. Yuck.
D: Do you want me to grow a mustache again?
C: You can just grow one?
D: Yes. Ima gonna grow a mustache for you!
C: No, Daddy, no!
D: Yes, let’s grow one and see if you like it on me.
C (laughing): I can see in the picture. I don’t like it, Daddy! It doesn’t look good.
D (laughing with her): You don’t think it looks good?
C: No, Daddy.
D: I’m gonna grow one anyway…
C: No, Daddy, no!

Daddy tickles her…while thinking about growing one, despite the reminder of how bad it looked, just to tickle her even more.

A Nudge Toward Carpe Diem

The pleading on Monday to stay home was motivated in part by Daddy’s trip over the weekend, but it was equally motivated by an apprehension about the new camp. In the car on the way there on Tuesday morning…

D: Aren’t you excited to get back in a swimming pool? You can swim every day. That’s pretty cool.
C (upset): But, Daddy, I won’t know any of the teachers.
D: How do you know you won’t?
C: Because Robbie and Marcus are working at Monta Loam.
D: Monte Loma. But, there could be other teachers you know at Oak. Like Kyle, maybe?
C (pausing, frowning): I don’t think so. So, what if I don’t know any of the teachers?
D (excitedly): Oh, Cory, then you’ll be so lucky!
C: Why?
D: Because you’ll get to meet new teachers. You will know so many teachers, Cory! Lucky.
C (not knowing whether to smile or frown): But, what if all the kids are older than me?
F: Then, you’ll be the youngest, Cory. I’m nine minutes older than Cory, right, Daddy?
C: But, I’m taller than Fisher. Couple inches, right, Daddy?
D: You’re both right.
C: It doesn’t matter whether you are tall or short.
F: Yah, some people are tall. Some are shorter, so that’s okay.
C: And, it’s okay if you are skinny or fat or between.
F: Yah, that’s okay.
C: Or iffin you have black hair or blonde hair or…Daddy, what color is my hair?
D: Some people call it red. Some people call it strawberry blonde.
C: Red or strawberry blonde, that’s okay.
F: Some people have brown hair. That’s okay.
C: Some people speak English. And others speak Bulvarian.
D: Who speaks Bulvarian?
C: Maria.
D: I think that’s Bulgarian.
C: Yah, so, that doesn’t matter. That Maria speaks Bulvarian.
D: I think that’s cool. Do you think that you’ll meet someone who speaks Bulgarian at camp today?
C: Daddy, I don’t want to go to camp today.
D: Why not?
C: Because I don’t know anyone.

Pause.

F: It only matters whether you are alive or dead. That’s the only thing that matters.
C: What did you say, Fisher?
F: It only matters if you are dead. If you are dead, that is bad, so that matters. That’s the only thing.
C: Yah. It only matters if you are dead.

Daddy smiles at them in the rearview mirror as they continue to talk nervously. At the Y camp, they cling to Daddy but eventually resign themselves to their fate. Hours later at pickup, when Cory spies Daddy, she immediately yells from across a room full of scrambling kids: “Daddy, can we stay here and finish this game?”

Um, okay. Daddy smiles and nods. When she and Fisher finish the game, during her hug, Daddy asks Cory whether she liked the camp. She smiles and whispers, “I LOVED it.” On the way home, their chatter is all about the games they played, the new teachers they met, the new rules they have, the kids there, getting back in the Y swimming pool…

Carpe diem. With a little nudge, they did.

Really?

F: Oh, so, you just wanna eh, ur, er not let us play on the slip ’n’ slide, right, Daddy? Really?
D: Fisher, I said…
F (all serious-face): Really, Daddy? Really? That’s really nice. So, Mr. Sun is out, and it’s hot outside, and we have the water. But, you really just don’t want us to do the slip ’n’ slide, right?
D (trying not to smile): After we…
F: So, that’s really nice. That’s really good. You just don’t want us to get wet and have really much fun…because that is what is really much fun right now. Really, Daddy?
D (smiling): Fisher…
F: Is that what you really want? Really, Daddy?

Really, someone? Really? You really had to turn Fisher into an SNL skit? Really?

Spa Camping

The morning after Father’s Day, Fisher wants to play “camping.” Cory wants to play “spa.” So, Fisher builds a tent in the family room, placing the bosu ball on the backs of chairs that hold up the blankets. Cory creates a bed out of other chairs right next to it, inviting Daddy to lie down for a treatment. As Daddy drifts to sleep, Fisher is sitting on the bosu ball, shooting wolves and mountain lions that are trying to attack the camp.

F: Mountain lions are easier. They don’t work together, Daddy. But, the wolves have a pack. So, they are harder. You have to shoot more.
C (dipping a paint brush into a cup of clear water): Now, Daddy, close your eyes. I’m just going to clean them, okay?

Daddy wakes up a little while later…because Fisher is about to put a Q-tip with hydrogen peroxide in Daddy’s ear. Daddy jerks away.

C: Daddy, you messed it up.
D: Fisher, you can’t put a Q-tip in Daddy’s ear.
F: Why not?
C: Can you put your head back down?
D: Because you have to be very, very gentle when cleaning ears.
F: Oh.
C: Daddy, can you close your eyes again?
D: Okay, but guys, only five more minutes. And, Fisher, you can’t put a Q-tip in my ears, okay?
F (bummed): Okay.
C: Okay, Daddy. (Pause.) Now, Daddy, don’t worry about the blue. I can clean it off, okay?

Daddy’s eyes shoot back open. A glance over at the cup confirms that the water in her cup is no longer clear. It’s diluted blue. Next to it is an open, wet-looking blue ink pad.

D: Cory! Did you make my face blue?!
C (slyly): Well, Daddy, I can clean it up, so…

It is a good thing for Cory that this face-painting occurred shortly after the two had Papa and Daddy open the Father’s Day gifts that the babysitter had secretly helped them to prepare. She bought two little buckets. She wrote “I love Papa because…” on one and “I love Daddy because…” on the other. Then, she had each of them write out on separate pieces of paper four or five reasons why. (For example, “Because he likes to dance.”) The papers were folded and placed in the buckets. The big finale was a wrapped present: a frame with pictures of them spelling out “We heart you.”

All of that was too charming, just barely too charming, to mind a lingering blue cast to the face for a day.

C: See, Daddy, it says “We…Heart…You.” So, let me tell you what that means. That means, we love you and Papa.