Linda and I have two children, Derek and Teagan. They are currently ages 29 and 27, respectively. When they were younger, they would often say or do something amusing. Less often, I would remember to write it down. Here are a few I remembered to write.
When Derek was three, he chose a Superman costume out of a catalog for Halloween. When it arrived in the mail, he couldn't wait to put it on. He seemed genuinely disappointed when I explained to him on our second-story front deck that he wouldn't be able to jump off and fly simply because he was wearing a Superman costume.
18 March 1994
While riding the Mombassa Railway at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans,
Derek struck up a conversation with a lady in the next seat.
After conversing for a while, Derek swatted at a fly.
The lady said "That's a fly." Derek responded with "Yeah, I know.
I saw lots of flies on poo-poo the other day. Mom covered it up with some dirt."
After a seemingly long silence, the lady said "Oh really."
Derek's parents pretended not to know him.
The 18-year-old son of our housekeeper/nanny was watching a video
with 4-year-old Derek when, out of the blue, Derek states, "You
know, when you get to be a grown-up, you'll have hair on your penis."
In my efforts to teach Teagan (age 2 at the time) some level of
independence, I asked her to please put my shoes in my closet.
So she said "OK," picked up my shoes from the TV room floor and
went off for several minutes. Eventually, she came back with
shoes in hand and announced forcefully, "Can't find closet!"
My 2-year-old daughter, Teagan, who was no stranger to food, had recently
finished supper when I announced to her that it was time for me to eat supper.
She said, "I wan't to eat supper too!" I told her, "You can't eat supper.
You just finished your supper."
Her reply: "How 'bout lunch; can I eat some lunch, Daddy?"
25 December 1994
Derek got a pair of children's binoculars for Christmas. As soon as he saw them,
he picked them up and went over to a window to look out into the woods.
"Wow, I can almost see Australia!" he boasted.
22 April 1995
Teagan had some friends over to celebrate her third birthday. While we were
outside, one of the grown-ups, Sandy, caught a small frog to show Teagan.
After Teagan touched the frog, Sandy asked Teagan what it felt like. Teagan responded
emphatically with the obvious: "Frog!"
I was installing a new wood plank floor in a room in our house.
The project had been going on for several days, and I was growing
weary of all the work. Derek walked in and said, "Gee Dad, that sure
is a lot of work for such an old man!" I'm not sure, but I think
Derek might have missed dessert that night.
29 July 1995
Derek and Teagan received an invitation to a friend's birthday party.
While discussing what present to take to the party, Linda suggested we
give a Cool Keys. Derek said "What's that?" Teagan then ran over
to the bookcase and pulled down her Cool Keys toy (a guitar neck shaped
toy with touch sensitive buttons that produce electronic musical notes).
I said "Yes, that's a good idea. I think Matthew would like that."
Teagan then got a very serious look on her face and stated emphatically
"Matthew can't have it!" I then rephrased my statement and, I hope,
cleared up the confusion.
29 October 1995
Derek, Teagan and I were spending a Sunday afternoon in my office -
they were coloring and playing while I was getting a little work done.
A couple of my colleagues were interacting with Derek and Teagan.
I overheard Derek saying to my associates "Dad's going to give us a lesson
on shapes in a few minutes. Teagan is better at shapes than I am.
You see, she gets to stay at home all day and learn stuff while I have to go to school."
Linda was explaining to Derek that we needed to give away some of the toys to make
way for the upcoming Christmas season. Derek, being unusually agreeable about this
contentious topic, said "Yeah Mom, that's a good idea. Let's give away some of the
toys." Linda said, "OK, which toys do you want to give away."
"Uh, any of Teagan's toys," came the immediate response.
I was explaining to Derek how things that seem fixed and certain can actually change
over long periods of time. As a case in point, I asked Derek, "For example, there
have been 50 states your entire life, so you think of that as a number that doesn't
change. But, do you know how many states there were when I was your age?"
Without hesitating much at all, Derek said "Thirteen?"
I decided to show Derek over the Christmas break how he could utilize search
engines on the internet to track down information on a topic, copy and paste
it into a word processor, edit it, and end up with a report. After showing him
the basics, I asked him to make a short report on the Crab Nebula. After some work,
Derek produced a nice-looking report with text, photographs, and illustrations he
had compiled from a few different web sites. I complimented him on the job, and
asked him what he had learned about the Crab Nebula from this exercise. He became
a little uncomfortable, finally uttering, "You mean you actually wanted me to
read that stuff?"
When Teagan was in the third grade, she was a very strong-willed
young child. She was having particular difficulty getting along
with one of her very nice but similarly strong-willed classmates.
They would often come to verbal blows. After one such incident,
their teacher took the girls out in the hall and had a talk with
them about how she knew that deep down the two girls really liked
each other and that she wanted them to apologize to each other.
So Teagan's classmate went first: she told Teagan that she was
sorry and that she really did like her. Then it was Teagan's
turn. She told her teacher that she wasn't sorry - she didn't
like that girl at all.
Derek planned to have a friend over to spend the night. To be fair, we offered
Teagan the opportunity to do the same. We asked if she would like to invite one
of her third-grade classmates over to spend the night. After thinking briefly,
she asked, "How about Ben?"
When Derek was in the seventh grade, he was invited to take the ACT college entrance
exam as part of a talent search along with other seventh graders. He didn't prepare
for the exam, figuring (one might reasonably suppose) that was what his next
several years in school were supposed to do. After the exam, I picked him up and
he asked, "What the heck is trigonometry anyway?"
11 November 2002
Teagan and I were eating breakfast together in the kitchen on Veterans Day.
She had the day off from school, so we were not rushed like we usually are
at breakfast. I asked Teagan if she knew what a veteran was. She said she had
studied veterans in school and she knew what the word meant. I went on to talk
about how important it was to have a day to recognize veterans for their service
to the country. After I finished my little speech, I felt good that I had taken
the time to explain to Teagan the meaning of Veterans Day so she could appreciate
it as more than just a day she didn't have to go to school. My self-congratulatory
thoughts were quickly dampened when Teagan stated, "But I still don't understand
why we have a special day to honor those animal doctors."
Teagan's idea of a perfect middle school is one that gives no homework and
assigns all A's. So when she brought home her course selection form for the
next year, I told her I was surprised she had selected the physical science
course rather that the more basic general science, and the algebra course
rather than the easier general math. She replied, "Hey, I didn't pick them.
My math and science teachers put me in there. Looks like I'm too smart for
my own good."
Sometimes Teagan is a little out-of-it on weekend mornings because she likes to
stay up late on weekend nights. But that doesn't keep the conscientious child
from attending to her chores. So one Saturday morning, just after arising,
she retrieved the can we use to water the outdoor plants, exited the kitchen
door, walked across the wet deck through the drizzle, and proceeded to water
the plants on the deck. As she came back inside, she wiped her wet feet on the
door mat and put up the can. I probably should have just thanked her for her
efforts, but instead I said, "You know, Teagan, you didn't need to water
the plants this morning because they got a good soaking from all the rain
during the night." She replied to me, in her most defiant teenage tone,
"Well how the heck was I supposed to know that!"
This story requires a bit of a setup.
- Our daughter, Teagan, has transformed from a strong-willed, but manageable,
little girl into a strong-willed, and less manageable, teenager.
- Linda is very fond of the painting The Problem We All Live With
by Norman Rockwell. This famous painting of a 6-year-old African-American girl
being escorted by four U.S. marshals to her first day at a recently desegregated
New Orleans elementary school appeared in Look magazine in 1964.
Linda ordered a reprint of the painting and asked me to be on the lookout for
it to arrive while she was out of town. Several days passed. When Linda returned to
town, she asked, "Where's the problem we all live with?" Richard replied,
"Upstairs in front of the computer."
A few minutes later Linda returned to say, "It wasn't in
front of the computer. Teagan was. I found the Rockwell in the foyer." Richard slowly
realized his mistake and feebly tried to cover by saying, "Oh, right."
Teagan was beating Derek and Richard in a game of FIFA 2005
(GameCube soccer video game; thanks Uncle Joel and Aunt Ceree)
She continued to run up the score all the way to the end of the game. After the game, I said,
"Teagan, you have no mercy." Derek added, "She doesn't even know
the meaning of the word."
Teagan got a confused look on her face and said, "What does it mean?" Derek
and I explained the meaning, after which she said proudly and forcefully,
"You're right, I don't have any mercy!" She proceeded with a victory dance to celebrate our
ignominious defeat, as though we needed further evidence that she is merciless.
Teagan had mastered the skill of swallowing air and belching at will at an early age, but had never found much
practical use for it.
But one day in eighth grade social studies class, her years of practicing finally paid off.
The teacher, Mr. Keller, was having the students say quotes from movies, and the rest of the class would try to figure out the movies they came from.
When Teagan was called on, her quote was "[BURP]; and that's a sign that the tank is full," one of Garfield's lines from the movie of the same name.
There was a lot of laughter.
29 May 2008
The family was on vacation in Grand Cayman. We were snorkeling each day.
After a few days, we realized that Teagan wasn't showering beyond what she
did while snorkeling. Then on the sixth day, we got caught in a storm just after getting out of the water
in downtown George Town. After a few minutes of rain, Derek turns to Teagan and says, "So, how are you enjoying
your first shower in the Caymans?"
24 July 2009
Teagan and I were visiting Derek and Jenni at the University of Kentucky. While in Derek's dorm room, I tell him I need to wash
off my glasses. He points me to his sink. I ask him if he has some soap I can use. He says, "We should go
to Jenni's room; she has some soap there."
1 April 2010
Linda and I picked Teagan up at MTSU so we could all attend a wedding in Mobile. After a quick stop for lunch in Murfreesboro, we began our long trip. Unfortunately, when we closed one of the sliding doors in the van, the van got confused and thought the door was not fully closed. We couldn't get the door to open or close, so the van produced its incredibly annoying buzzing sound that occurs when a door is open while the van is in drive. The buzzing sound was coming inside one of rear interior panels, but I couldn't see how to easily access it to put it out of its misery. So we drove to the nearest Toyoto dealer for help. When we got there, Linda went to the back of the van, isolated where the noise was coming from, and removed the buzzer through an acces cover. The relief from the noise, which we endured during the drive to the dealer, was striking. Teagan, who rarely delivers praise to either parent, burst out, "Yay Mom!." She seemed to surprise herself and quickly added, "Wow, when was the last time I said that?"