found that they were down a person Saturday night, so I was pressed into service on short notice as the gibbering crazy who escapes from a jail cell to press the group on down the trail. All we had in the house was vaseline, cornstarch, and food coloring, but it turned out ok given the inherent limitations of the medium.
I scared Scotty M. so badly when I came down the stairs that he sat in silence for two whole minutes, then burst into tears.
I’ve been going to concerts all my life. No matter what I’ve done, I’ve never been able to get front row seats. I waited for ten hours in the snow fifteen years ago to see Jimmy Buffett at the Dean Dome. I was 14 rows back. The closest I’ve ever been was an R.E.M show at Duke when they played Cameron Indoor Stadium. I don’t want to even think about how long ago that was. 5th row center, with a girlfriend, Phyllis, and a friend of hers whose name escapes me. Likely it escaped me then as well. Nice location, but still not the front. INXS at the Dome? 20 rows back. Violent Femmes and the Indigo Girls at Memorial Auditorium? 12 rows back.
Until Thursday, when I finally scored front row concert tickets, the always sought after and never realized acme of any concert going experience. Right in front, where the band can’t miss you. Down where you can count nose hairs. Just me, my wife and our toddler, going to see the Wiggles.
As far as Ngnat was concerned, we got our $75 worth just walking into the venue. She looked at all the kids and was overcome with delight. She walked in on red carpet and ran around for the sheer pleasure of movement, and bounced her seat up and down in manic bliss. She made peepee sitting on a men’s room public toilet amidst rapturous paroxysms of happiness. My, whatever we were doing was fun! There were even songs she knew playing in the background!
She sat in her Mommy’s lap and watched the curtain open. Then THEY walked out onto stage. Jeff. Murray. Greg. Anthony. It was as if a bus had fallen out of the sky onto her. She knows the Wiggles. We watch Wiggles videos all the time. We told her we were going to go see the Wiggles, but obviously she didn’t realize we were going to SEE THE WIGGLES.
The paradigm shift took about 4 minutes, during which she sat completely still on the sainted wife’s lap. She sucked on her thumb, then her thumb and a finger, then a thumb and two fingers, until eventually she was attempting to cram her entire fist down her throat. Finally, when Henry the Octopus walked onstage, she finished processing all the relevant data. She let out a scream that a Sinatra bobby-soxer or Beatlemaniac would have recognized instantly.
“HEEEEEEENNNNNNNWWWWWYYYYYYYY!!!” It was almost as if she wasn’t convinced that everything was real until she saw a gigantic purple mollusk stroll out and give her a wave. After that it was “Well, if Henry’s here, it must be ok.”
Then “Waaaaaaaags!”and “Dowafeeeeeeeee!”. She wasn’t the only one screaming either. The crowd noise had been growing with each introduction. It reached its apex when the Captain ran out. Ran out, rounded off a roundoff , shook his feather sword, and said “Ahoy there, me hearties!”.
Every kid in the building went apeshit, and it was a big building. And then the Wiggles sang.
I can’t tell you the songs. They’re all two minutes long and involve various acts of wackiness on the part of the Wiggles and their animal and pirate friends. The kids know all the words, and most of the parents know most of the words, including me. It’s not hard, remembering to sing “Hot Potato” five times in a row. They did all their hits, which you’ve never heard of unless you’re the parent of a toddler. If you are the parent of a toddler, then they did “Hoop-te-Doo” and “Wiggly Party” and “Emu Dance” and “Move like an Emu” and “Watch Out, The Emu Can Disembowel You With One Swift Kick” and “Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!”, during which the Wiggles call out the names of various celebrities and the Captain sings as if he were that person. His Mick Jagger and Madonna versions were good, but his Eminem was absolute genius. And while I was joking about the Emu disemboweling you song, I’m not about the Eminem version of “Quack Quack…..”. It was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen. Every Wiggle up on stage obviously thought it was a grand joke, challenging the Captain to rap his signature song on short notice. Surely it was planned, but it didn’t feel like it.
So the Captain rapped, and he and the Wiggles sang more songs, and Ngnat danced in the aisle with the other toddlers, turning around and around in a jerky, skipping galumph of a dance. I watched her while the sainted wife waited in the merchandise line for 30 minutes, hoping against hope that they wouldn’t sell out of T-shirts before she got to the head of the line. It was the venue’s fault, sticking all of the various Wiggly items into one place. The booth, such as it was, was staffed by two elderly ladies who stared in absolute shock at the 15 person deep sea of parents surrounding them on all sides, intent on getting a damn feathersword for little Johnny come hell or high water.
They did sell out, but only after she bought a blue shirt for Ngnat featuring four cartoon Wiggle faces. She insisted we put it on immediately, while she danced. Mom pulled the T-shirt over her head while I unbuttoned the original outfit, then pulled it off via a convenient arm hole. Must preserve an aura of modesty, you know.
She went to bed in it that night. She got up and went to daycare in it this morning. She’s sleeping in it now. We have tried to take it off, in case you’re looking for the Social Services number, but she refuses to have anything to do with that.
“My Wiggles!” she yells. “My Wiggles!”
I know it will damage my hip credentials beyond all repair, as if a white guy in his thirties still had hip credentials, but I had a blast. The Wiggles had the crowd in the palms of their hands. It was really cool to look out over the sea of people and see hundreds of pre-schoolers bouncing up and down as one, doing a primitive version of the hand jive to “Hot Potato.” Yes, it’s probably easy to do when three-quarters of your fans are under five, but how many of you have done that to a crowd? How many of you have ever gotten…say ten…ten kids to do something at once? I was a camp counselor for years. It’s a lot harder than it looks, and these guys did it effortlessly. The concert didn’t have anything like the tightly scripted feel I thought it would have. Rather it was relaxed, casual. They laughed at everything. Jeff rode out on a tiny little tricycle, and the handlebars came off, and he couldn’t get them back on. And he laughed, and they laughed, and Jeff struggled to get the recalcitrant toy off stage, and laughed some more. I bet Madonna would bite off bat heads if her tiny tricycle broke.
I’d seen a crowd like that only twice before in my life. Once was at a Buffett concert, when I saw twenty-thousand people moving as one to “Fins“. The other time was hearing two thousand scream out the chorus to “Add It Up” as if they were exorcising demons. And I wasn’t even high this time.
The wife also had a blast, for perhaps different reasons. The only downside to the whole evening for her was having to wait in line so long. She wanted to see more of Anthony, who she hadn’t thought much of until she saw him in person, at which point she discovered within herself a rather seamy lust.
Her exact words–”Damn, Anthony is hot!”
I bet you don’t hear that at many Barney concerts.
Update: Ngnat has now worn her Wiggles shirt for a second straight day and is sleeping in it for a third straight night. We managed to get her to take a bath today only by promising her that she could immediately put her shirt back on after the bath.
And, one thing that I left out. Anthony had an American flag guitar strap. I thought it a nice touch. Of course, it might not mean anything, but it’s hard not to see it as a gesture of support.
Much Later Update: Scotty M is now the proud owner of the Blue Wiggles t-shirt, Ngnat having outgrown it long ago. The images are faded and cracked, but it still gets worn to bed at least once a week in the warmer part of the year.
Dinner last night was spaghetti with homemade sauce, since there was no Prego at hand in the pantry, and Texas Toast. Ngnat, as is her wont when faced with even the slightest of culinary experiments, found something to complain about–in this case the lack of a spoon with which to eat said dish. After demonstrating the absolute uselessness of a fork when it comes to consuming spaghetti by stabbing at the noodles a couple of times, she breathed out the weary sigh of a epicure denied, then rested her head in her hands, gazing listlessly at the pedestrian nutriment set before her.
“Elbows off the table, dear.” I told her. Her mother echoes me from across the table. “Yes, you aren’t supposed to eat like that.”
With yet another sigh, she turned to me with palms upraised, and in the most reasonable of tones, tried out the newest of the schoolyard epigrams she’s recently been exposed to.
“Daddy, how many times do I have to tell you? You’re not the boss of me.”
Across the table, Sainted Wife chokes on her milk. Inwardly, I’m chortling. Outwardly, I’m all Daddy voice.
“Go to your room. Get in your bed. You’re done for the night.” Challenge my authority, will you?
Ngnat’s face turns red, crumples, and tears begin to leak as she gets up and heads for the stairs. I twist the knife.
“I guess I am the boss of you, huh?”
I’ll pay for it one day, I suppose. One less trip she’ll feel obliged to make to the nursing home. Right now, though, Ngnat is far more concerned with the fact that her homework isn’t done. Between wails she relates this information to the world around her.
“I-hi ha-haf to-oo do-oo my-hi homewohk!”
“You should have thought of that before you started mouthing off at the table, Little Miss,” her mother informs her, and the wails retreat upstairs and fade, somewhat.
We consider the matter at hand, wife and I, while Scotty M from his seat informs us somewhat nervously that he is a very good boy. It’s three hours before bedtime, which means that we have over-punished, and need to back down–without, of course, appearing to have backed down. Fortunately there is an existing example for us to follow; English Common Law and The Royal Prerogative of Mercy. Robert Hughes, in The Fatal Shore, describes it thusly;
“This drama of immutable rules lay at the heart of the tremendous power that Law held over the English imagination. The judge simply surrendered to the imperative of the statutes, a course of action that absolved him of judicial murder, and that caused him to weep. His tears humbled him not before the men in the dock, which would have been unthinkable, but before the idea of Law itself. When the Royal Mercy intervened as it commonly did, transmuting the death penalty into exile on the other side of the world, the accused and their relatives could bless the intervening power of patronage while leaving the superior operations of Law unquestioned. The law was a disembodied entity, beyond class interest; the god was in the codex.”
That’s pretty much an accurate description of our parenting philosophy, minus the hanging and judgely tears. Over sentence as if we had no choice in the matter, then intervene at a later time to commute or reduce the punishment. In this case, this was about a half hour later, after the table was cleared and the kitchen cleaned. That’s the nice thing about the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. Once one knows that it is to be exercised at some point, you can schedule it for the most convenient time, or, if there’s something interesting on TV and you really don’t want to be disturbed, after that.
Ngnat was encased in her comforter, red-faced and damp, when I entered her room. “Do you know what you did wrong?” I asked her. She nodded, too overcome to speak, hiccupping her grief every few seconds.
“Okay, then. I’ll talk to Mommy about maybe letting you to do your homework, but only if you concentrate on it and do a really god job. ”
“Thank you, Daddy,” she squeaked, and then burst into fresh tears. I sat and took her in my lap. The sobs slowly wound down.
“It’s okay, honey. You won’t do it again.”
Scotty M’s voice floated downstairs last night an hour or two after he had been put to bed. Something was missing. Something important.
“Bankie? Bankie, where are you?”
Bankie was on the floor in front of me. I picked it up and made my way to the stairs. SW cooed over the innate preciousness of her three-year-old talking to his security blanket. Appropriate, certainly, but I had other plans. Standing at the base of the stairs, I called back in a high falsetto.
“Cowin! Cowin, it’s me, Bankie! Where are you, Cowin?”
Silence. Dead silence.
“Cowin ! Where are you Cowin? I miss you so much!”
…..”Is that you, Daddy?”
“No Cowin! It’s me, Bankie! Why did you go away, Cowin?”
Sharp intake of breath from above. Scotty M. bursts into hysterics and retreats back to his bed. SW and I proceed up the stairs to calm him down and restore Bankie to its proper place in life, but we have trouble stifling our laughter on the way.
Must have been first child syndrome, because the source for Scotty’s first potty song isn’t nearly as highbrow.
“P” is for Poopie
“P” is for Poopie
It comes right out of me.
“P” is for Poopie
It goes in the potty.
“P” is for Poopie
It’s smelly and stinky!
Oh, Poopie, Poopie, Poopie starts with P!
As you might imagine, the tune is quite a hit with the kids, though the wife is oddly less appreciative of the lyric, as well as its inevitable sequel.
“P” is for Pee Pee
“P” is for Pee Pee
It comes right out of me.
“P” is for Pee Pee
It goes in the potty.
“P” is for Pee Pee
It’s clear or yellowy!
Oh, Pee Pee, Pee Pee, Pee Pee starts with P!
In response to Bigwig’s post below…
[Don't read if Bigwig made you angry, 'cuz this just might make you stroke out.]
[[I'm just trying to help, Bigwig. Can't stand to see you get flamed all alone.]]
This is a kitty house, and this is the grass, and these are the stairs that look like writing, and this is this handrail and this is the sun. I drew it so Colin would say “Hissy!”
All that’s missing is blue sky all the way down, and perhaps a stick figure or two. I don’t recall ever drawing a house picture when I was a kid without people in the foreground somewhere, but then again I’m fairly sure I didn’t draw kitty houses at all.
As for Colin, the name she insists on calling Scotty M in the face of all reason, he doesn’t need extra impetus when it comes to saying anything. Most of what he says is still gibberish, at least to the untrained ear, but it’s now structured gibberish.
Butterflies, once “fwy“, are now “Bai tais!” “Mamama” and “Dadada” have been shorn of their extra syllables, and “Hey-ya” has become a simple “Hi!” which he uses at every opportunity.
“Bye-bye!” is also used prolifically, meaning either “Let’s go outside,” “Good Night,” or “Let’s go for a ride in the car.” “Bye-bye…..iceskeem!” is “Drive me to the Cold Stone Creamery,” a place adored by himself and the Ngnat, not only for the frozen dairy goodness, but because the staff there is apt to break into song whenever a dollar is dropped into the tip box.
We usually make these trips without the Sainted Wife, as the merry tunes of the ice cream purveyors are to her as sunlight and fresh garlic are to a vampire. She hatessss the sssongsss. They burnssss, her, they do, my precioussss.
Cannot say as I blame her, though for me the songs are more akin to fluorescent light and elderly garlic powder. They strike me as the type of thing forced onto the peons of Cold Stone from above, by a Ben and Jerry?s wannabe management that thinks the Japanese idea of “shafu,” or company spirit, can be instilled in minimum wage-earning Americans by having them perform badly re-written television jingles in front of a jaded and cynical public.
Because Cold Stone Creamery? places such emphasis on creating a fun, entertaining experience for every customer, Creamery crew members are auditioned, not interviewed, and are often asked to sing from the Cold Stone Creamery song book as part of the process.
I should think even recovering crack whores would have too much self respect to put themselves through the above, but the place is fully staffed whenever we visit, so what do I know? Certainly tennis_girlie seems excited by the prospect. You should follow the link, as the snippet below doesn’t convey the full!! extra-smiley!! faces!! effect!!
I’m gonna be working at Cold Stone Creamery, YAY. Ice cream is so awesome. It was funny, the owners didn’t refer to the interview as an interview, they called it an “audition.” I had to get up and sing for them! At Cold Stone, if a customer tips you, you have to sing for them And to make myself look good, I moved a little to my own tune (What can I say, I was born to dance no matter how much I suck at it)….I think this will be a great job for me- making ice cream, singing, dancing, decorating… being silly… heehee, it works for my bouncy personality….The owners told us “This is gonna be like you’re on American Idol,”
Whoo-Hooo! American Idol! It’s like, if you sing long enough, and hard enough? Then one day Simon will walk in and be totally blown away? And he’ll give you a recording contract right there on the spot!
It’s American dream, or perhaps the American daydream. “If I work my hardest and do my best, no matter how crappy the job, then magical things will happen!”
Sure it?s unrealistic, at least at the minimum-wage ice-cream flunky level, but it’s a lovely idea nonetheless, and sometimes it even comes true.
Which is why I owe the little girl who took our order last night an apology.
“You know, we sing after every tip! ” she told me brightly, as I handed over the money for two kid-sized portions of purple and pink.
“Yes.” I replied. “Why do you think we never tip?”
The brief shadow of pain that crossed her features was something to behold. One would have thought I’d thrown an entire bag of puppies into the river in right there in front of her. Not just any river, either, but one soley inhabited by Nazi piranhas.
If there was any justice in the world, my iceskeem, or rather the iceskeem I snarfed out of the kid’s cups when they weren’t looking, would have tasted of wormwood and ashes. There must not be, for all I consumed was suffused with creamy pleasure.
It’s just not right. Five to one the girl behind the register drew colorful kitty houses at some point in her life. For all I know she still did, until I stomped on her joy with my hob-nailed boots of cynicism. Now, thanks to me, it’s a black kitty house, with black grass and black stairs and a black sun and black blood leaking out of the doorway, while the denizens within feed on the still-living body of their paralyzed owner.
Still, I’m not going to tip her next time, either.
The Balvenie, I must say, is an excellent scotch. Had a glass or two with the retired neighbor tonight during the second half of the UNC waltz over Georgia Tech. Very vanilla-y in the nose, and smooth as silk.
I have to say I’ve yet to meet a single malt I don’t like, but that perhaps could be ascribed to my relative inexperience in the admittedly wide field of uisge beatha. Presumably there are crappy single malts, just as there are crappy craft beers, but from what I’ve gathered thus far in my whisky experience is that the crappy scotches are found more on the blend side rather than in the single malts. Father-in-law, for example, keeps a fifth of Dewars around just so he can swear at it.
Retired’s Balvenie was a Christmas gift. It was uncracked until tonight, as he actually prefers bourbon. I suspect he decided to invite me over out of sheer evening loneliness, as his wife has been dealing with bronchitis for two weeks and so goes to bed around 7 each night.
Thanks to the invite, I should confess that Ngnat’s bedtime story tonight was somewhat shorter than it would otherwise have been. I mean, I would LIKE to be a good father 24/7, but new scotch, male bonding and Carolina Basketball are a tempting mix, especially now that we don’t suck.
So, instead of the five chapters of James and The Giant Peach that we would normally have covered, there were only four. The omission was not noticed, I am thankful to say, as she has been far more concerned with the whole issue of rhinoceroses and their proclivity for dining on parents, an idea introduced to her in the very first page of James.
“Why did the winoseplus eat his mommy and daddy?”
“Well, it was an angry rhino, honey. They probably just got in his way.”
“Would he eat you and Mommy?”
“No. Rhinoceroses don’t eat people any more.”
“Well, after that rhinoceros ate James’s mommy and daddy, he threw up, and he told all the other rhinoceroseses that people taste like poopie, so they didn’t do it any more.”
That’s one hurdle cleared. There’s another, found in the language area. Before story time tonight was “intensively interact with the children time because I’ve been at work all damn day” time. This involved alphabetical Mega-Blocks, which are like Legos except they are much larger and possess only one hole apiece, at least in this case. There are holier Mega-Blocks, but they do not enter into our story. These particular plastic extrusions have letters of the alphabet printed on two sides. Ngnat, being the genius four-year-old that she is, decided that we should line them up in order tonight. First “A,” the “B,” and so on, which worked like a charm until we came to “M,” a letter with which we have a history, owing to Ngnat’s tendency to confuse it with “N.”
When we sing the Alphabet Song, there’s a bit of a speed-up in the tune after “K,” which the Ngnat has historically enunciated as “Elenenopee,” so there has been some confusion as to what the 13th and 14th letters of the alphabet are. It’s been overcome, but still, M is considered a right bastard in the Hraka household.
And now he was missing. Ngnat looked under the couch, checked under the cushions, and took a quick inventory of the toy chest in the next room. Nada. She returned to the living room, threw her hands up in the air and delivered a rather matter of fact decision on the missing phoneme.
Her ever-so-aptly demonstrated command of the language is my fault, I am led to understand.
One hurdle cleared, and one created. Such are my parenting skills.
Scotty M fell asleep in my arms as I rocked him tonight. He’s getting old, old enough that there won’t be to many more occasions where he’ll just drift off like that. Tonight could have been the last one, for all I know.
Of course, ten minutes earlier he was screaming at the top of his lungs because I had the temerity to look at him and say “Time to read books?”, which he knows is code for “bedtime,” so I may not miss it as much as I think
“NO!” he told me, vehemently adding a “Wigguh!” on for emphasis.
“Wigguh!” is his latest catchall term, following in the footsteps of “Pah” (pacifier) and “Co” (cookie). It what he offers/demands as an alternative when presented with a course of action that he finds less than desirable–going to be, in this case. It means “Wiggles,” which in this case is more or less shorthand for “Play a Wiggles video or I’ll scream incessantly until you do.” We’ve been through this before. On other occasions it means Scotty M has spotted a Wiggle, either somewhere obvious, like on one of the million or so Australian-flavoured accessories that litter the house, or in a more unexpected place–like on the cover of Ngnat’s new library book. Hint: Look for Anthony
This can cause much distress in the household, such as when he refuses to let go of his sister’s book. It was that shouting match that led us to finally take Scotty to bed, Wigguh! be damned.
The routine is down fairly pat, though, so he calmed down pretty quickly. Books, songs–Yes John, some people still sing, though I must admit singing to the children at bedtime seems rather quaint, and not at all something I would have expected myself to do even 5 or 6 years ago–and then bed. The books tend to follow a regular pattern, as do the songs. We must start with The Little Green Frog Song, and we must finish with a tune I learned from my mother, a variation of All The Pretty Little Horses.
Go to sleep, little baby.
Go to sleep, little baby.
When you wake, you shall have sweet cake
And ride a pretty little pony.
One day, he’s going to wake up and ask where the pony is.
All we got in tonight was frog and whisky before his eyelids drooped and his arms went from grasping his blanket to his chest to spread out beside his head. Not a peep out of him since, even after his sister began meowing back at the cats outside her bedroom window at the top of her voice.
Which is to be expected. If he can fall asleep in the middle of my singing, very little can ever be expected to disturb the rest of his slumbers.