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Educating Wendy

Posted by Dr. D , 13 September 2012 · 381 views

I always thought that if I enjoyed my kids, they should enjoy me.  That philosophy of parenting offered countless opportunities for delightful experiences.  The result, however, was that my kids never got into trouble.  I did.

I was once driving at night with my little daughter seated beside me.  Suddenly a meteor coursed across the heavens and she was awestruck.  “What was that, daddy?” she asked, and I, with all my poetic grace, attempted to enlighten her by saying, “That was God striking a match across the floor of heaven.”

That should have been innocent enough.  I was, after all, teaching her the finer forms of expression.  I was instilling a thought pattern of elegant prose.  Unfortunately, she had to ruin the moment by asking, “Does God smoke?”

Okay, so if God didn’t smoke, what the hell was he doing striking a match across the floor?  I had to think fast.

“I don’t know, honey.  It’s one of those mystery things.  But we don’t have to mention it to your mother, do we?”

My wife was from the Trieste, Italy where people are born Catholic.  They don’t need to be baptized, Catholicism is in their genes and DNA.  The Pope could have taken lessons from her about how to be a good Catholic.  She never missed a mass and even when her health failed, she insisted that the priest come to her bed to speak with her and give the communion.  I was pretty certain that the idea of God smoking wouldn’t appeal to her so I repeated, “We don’t have to tell Mama, right?”  She only widened her eyes and nodded a lie.

The car had barely entered the garage before she slammed the door behind her and darted for the kitchen.  The garage door had not lowered before I heard my name being called with that tone of wrath dripping with damnation.

“Did you tell our daughter that God smoked?” she asked with arms folded in defiance.

“Well, not exactly,” I stammered, “it was one of those strange circumstances.”

“Like when you told her that cows can’t laugh because milk would come out their nose?”

“It wasn’t my fault,” I said with that ridiculous tone of pleading.  “I made a simple statement and then she tricked me!”

“She’s five -years-old!  She tricked you?”

“She’s female!” I said defiantly.  “They can do that kind of thing from birth.”

That night she turned on her side away from me and pounded her pillow with fury before crossing herself a few times and then falling to sleep.  I imagined she was asking God why he had put me in her life, but I couldn’t be certain.

Then there was the time our daughter was studying osmosis in school and was fascinated with wash cloths that were half dry and was constantly dunking her morning toast in milk just to observe what happened later.  One morning she was eating cereal and she noticed that the little round Cheerios at the top of the bowl had dried while the rest remained wet.  “Look,” she announced proudly, “the top ones are dried out, that’s osmosis, right?”

“No,” I said, turning a page of my morning newspaper.

“No?  Then why are they dry?”

“Because they’re closer to the sun,” I replied and she stared into the bowl for a long moment before saying only, “Oh.”

That evening I returned home to find the same curled lip disgust written on my wife’s face.  “Wendy’s teacher called,” she informed me.

“Yeah?  What did she do?”

“Oh, Wendy didn’t do anything,” she said smugly, “except listen to her father.  Her teacher politely asked me not to permit you to help her with her school work anymore.”

So much for that parent involvement propaganda they passed around at the PTA meetings, right?  How’s a kid supposed to learn?  Education begins in the home and all that crap?.  I was considering home schooling at that moment but it didn’t exist back then.

Little girls have their daddy because they need them.  No one’s like a daddy to a little girl.  So when Wendy told me the secret that she didn’t like her ballet lessons, I decided to be a good father.  We left the house every Saturday morning with her in her tutu and we went places and had fun.  It would have worked, too, except when the church put a pool table in the recreation center and she started showing her Sunday School friends trick shots she had learned.  I saw a lot of my wife’s back after that one.

It’s fun to think about it now.  I like to think that my wife laughed in her private moments when I was out of sight.  At least I hope she did.

The other day Wendy sent me an e-mail and I remembered all the good times we had.  She’s married now and living in London.  I’m not wild about her husband but have to admit I wouldn’t have been too receptive of anyone.  She’s MY little girl and always will be.  Anyway, she told me that she was teaching some classes at a local university but mentioned that they had a zero tolerance policy and she had to take a drug test.  “That’s good, honey,” I replied, “just remember that sex at any time two weeks before a drug test gives a positive result.”

It was just like the old days.  She answered back, “Okay, thanks, dad.”  That’s for you, dear son-in-law and damn it feels good.

Ever Learning
Sep 13 2012 01:12 PM
Really enjoyed this, is this from your life or did you write it?
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White Crane Feather
Sep 13 2012 02:21 PM
Hahahaha my mother in law squirms when my boys start talking about the spirits of plants and animals. A hard core philipina catholic, It's pretty funny.  Diabetes is taking its tole on her though , ironically failing health has actually lightened her up.
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Ever Learning, on 13 September 2012 - 01:12 PM, said:

Really enjoyed this, is this from your life or did you write it?

True story, I¿m afraid.  Guilt is a terrible thing.
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Sep 14 2012 05:27 AM
loved  it!
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