Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these monkeys

The latest in the conversations with kids series:

Elaina [8 years old]: Jesus! Give me a monkey!

Me: . . . . what?

Elaina: Oh. Jesus. Please give me a monkey.

Me: What are you talking about?

Elaina [with poorly concealed impatience]: I'm ASKING JESUS for a MONKEY, Daddy.

Me: Jesus is not a monkey-god. Why are you asking Jesus for a monkey?

Elaina [pointing]: That sign says to.

Me: Mercy. That sign says ask Jesus for mercy.

Elaina: What's mercy?

Me: Being merciful is like being kind and forgiving.

Elaina: It would be kind to give me a monkey.

Me: But it wouldn't be merciful to the monkey.


Me: See, this is exactly what I'm talking about.

Elaina [loudly and very atonally singing]: JEEEEEESUSSS, GIVE ME A MONNNNNNNKEY


Hippity Hoppity

So I'm sitting in the overflow chapel for Easter services. Evan and Abby are ungracefully with me, halfheartedly drawing on children's bulletins.

ABBY: Daddy: there's nothing to draw.

[Older couple in front of us smiles at her fondly]

ME: Why don't you draw the Easter Bunny?

ABBY: The Easter Bunny is creepy.

ME: Then why don't you draw the Easter Bunny menacing a village?

ABBY: [With an unsettling degree of enthusiasm]: Yeeaaahhhhhhhh.

[Older couple turns back towards the front, looking alarmed.]

Some minutes later, Abby has produced a drawing of a Godzilla-sized Easter Bunny credibly menacing a rustic village, with some visibly alarmed villagers.

ME: Oh, very nice, sweetie. Look at the villagers fleeing!

[Older couple is now staring ramrod-straight ahead not looking not looking not looking]

ABBY: I know, right?

ME: Look, Evan. Didn't she do a good job on the villagers?

EVAN: [newly turned 12, and suffused with ennui regarding each and every aspect of human existence] Eeeeuuurrrrggggghhhhhhh.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter

Part of the Conversations With Kids series.

Also, I'm Pretty Sure That He Can't Name The Bridge Crew Of The Enterprise

Evan has viewed our pets with benign neglect; the girls give them all the attention. Recently, for the first time, he showed his first interest in getting a pet: a bearded dragon, which is basically a lizard with pretensions, a lizard that is currently working as a lizard but ultimately wants to direct.

Yesterday we picked up the bearded dragon, which we purchased off Craigslist. Normally you'd think that the only people searching "bearded dragon" on Craigslist are closeted Republican state senators, but actually no.

Anyway, we also picked up worms and crickets for the bearded dragon to it. It turns out that Evan — who has barely brought himself to touch Rex the bearded dragon — is afraid of the crickets.

This will make it easier to respond to his ridicule of my longstanding reptile phobia.

This conversation resulted:

Me: Just do it. Just march in there and pick out a cricket and give it to Rex.


Me: It's a bug. It won't hurt you.

Evan: You don't know that.

Me: Are you afraid of the crickets? The little crickets in a jar?

Evan: Yes. Yes. I HATE CRICKETS.

Me: That explains why Pincochio was such a traumatic experience for you.

Evan: Who?

Me: Pinocchio . . . Pinocchio. You know. With Jimminy Cricket.

Evan: [Utterly unconvincingly] Oh . . . oh yeah. Him. Right.

Me: You have no idea who I am talking about.

Evan: Sure I do! Pino. . . somebody. And the cricket.

Me: I'm a failure as a parent.

Sense: This Picture Makes None.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come and see!" Then another horse came out, a fiery Pinkie Pie one.

Saturday, as usual, I took the kids for breakfast at our favorite diner, Rocky Cola Cafe in Montrose. Elaina wanted cereal; Evan and Abby ordered their standard — "Carly's Favorite", a barrow-sized mound of hash browns topped with bacon and cheese. It's implied, but not stated, that this breakfast item is a memorial, and that Carly has died of a massive myocardial infarction.

While we waited for our heaps of carbs, Evan entered his trance-like Nintendo DS state, and Abby and Elaina busied themselves playing with various toys they brought, including a My Little Pony and a Littlest Pet Shop stuffed with tiny plastic pets.

I was benevolently ignoring the kids, reading Fark on my iPad and drinking coffee, when the girls' dialogue began to get louder.

Abby [8]: . . . an' . . . an' . . . an' . . . these cats and dogs are all fighting, and the Little Pony has to convince them to be friends!

Elaina [4]: YEAH! [ed: to convey approximate volume of Elaina's indoor voice, imagine all of her dialogue is typed in 38-point boldfaced red font]

Abby: Little Pink Pony is going to tell them not to fight!

Elaina: YEAH!

Me: That's sweet. [ruffling Abby's hair fondly]

Abby: [making the freakishly outsized pony bounce up and down violently near the plastic cats and dogs] "Kitties and puppies! Don't fight! Don't go to war!

Elaina: WAR!

Abby: . . . .because if you go to war, so very many of your people are going to die!

Elaina: YEAH! DIEEEEEE! [smashing plastic cats and dogs in brief but entirely credible simulation of probable effects of war]

Me: Uh . . . .

Abby: They're going to die, all the puppies and kitties and turtles and fishies and birdies, and everyone is going to be so sad and go BOO HOO!

Elaina: SAD! WOO HOO!

Me: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

Abby: [still stomping the pony up and down vigorously, now into the creamer dish]: So if you don't all want to die TODAY, and get BURIED in the GROUND, you have to be friends! Okay?

Elaina: OKAY!

Evan: Daddy, is Littlest Pet Shop supposed to be violent?

Still Better Informed Than The Average Voter

Last night I was driving Evan (10) and Abby (8) home from dinner.

EVAN: Daddy, quiz me on science stuff.

ME: Uh, okay. Here's one you didn't remember before. Who invented the light bulb?

EVAN: Uh — Einstein?

ABBY: Howie Houdini!

EVAN: I don't like that one. Ask another one.

ME: Okay. What is Einstein famous for?

EVAN: He talked about science and the universe and . . . and . . . what he said was important for knowing things in science, and the universe, and how science works in the universe, and stuff.

ME: You'll have to learn to bluff better than that, padwan.

ABBY: Ask another question!

ME: Okay. Who was the second president?


ABBY: Howie Houdini! Harriet Tubman! SACAJAWEA!

ME: Bzzz. Wrong. Okay. If the president dies, who becomes president next?

EVAN: The vice-president!

ME: And if the president and the vice-president die, who becomes president next!

EVAN: Uh . . . the last president before that?


Evan: The last person who ran for president and lost?


ME: We may need to find you two a trade.

The Benefit of Mac & Cheese Is That It Rarely Involves Violence

The scene: as with so many such discussions, my car. Katrina is away at a party with the youngest. Tasked to take Evan (8) and Abby (6) to dinner, I have employed promises of shrimp and crab to persuade them to have their first Japanese meal.

Me: Okay. So Daddy will have some octopus. You guys can have shrimp tempura. And maybe some sushi. Maybe with some crab.

Abby: Daddy?

Me: Yes?

Abby: How do they kill the crab?

Me: Hand-to-hand combat.

Abby: Huh?

Evan. No. That's not how you kill a crab.

Me: OK. How do you?

Evan. You grab it by the leg. And then you smack it against the wall again and again. BANG BANG BANG.

Me: ….

Evan: Or you could go into a small, small room. Then you could hit the crab on one wall — BANG! — and then on the other wall — BANG! until it was dead.

Me: Okay. You have now officially creeped me the heck out.

Evan: [thrusting arms above his head] WOOOOOOO VICTORY!

Me: …

Abby: Daddy? Do you know how they kill an octopus?

Me: . . . . . no?


Me: Okay, no more cartoons.

Child Protective Services Only Gets the Slow-Witted Ones

The scene: my car, taking Elaina (2 1/2) to preschool.

Me: [observing a driver ahead of me execute a boneheaded move]: Whiskey. Tango. FOXTROT.

Elaina: WHISKEY!

Me: . . . .

Elaina: WHISKEY!

Me: Uh . . .

Elaina: Daddy, why you say WHISKEY?

Me: Uh . . . let's sing. "I love you, you love me . . ."

[five minutes later, we walk into her preschool class]

Me: Okay, sweetie. Have a good day.

Teacher: Good morning, Elaina! Do you want something to eat?

Elaina: WHISKEY!

Teacher: . . .

Elaina: WHISKEY!

Teacher: Uh . . . .

Me: RISKY. She's trying to say risky. She's concerned that it's risky being so close to the fires.

Teacher: [melting] Oh, poor Elaina! Don't worry! You'll be okay! You don't have to worry!

Elaina: [Ever a drama queen, very adept at picking up tone, begins to pout her lip and quiver her chin]: Whiiisssskey. ::sniff::

Teacher: [heartbroken] Oh, sweetie! You're fine! You're fine!

Me: So, OK. I gotta go.

Can an SUV be Excommunicated?

I'm wondering because iconoclasm and heresy abound in my SUV, and my efforts to steer it back towards orthodoxy only make things worse, as I've demonstrated before. The thing is, I'm not even sure if my church excommunicates. I suppose as a deacon I ought to know that, but I don't, which is really further evidence of the problem when you think about it. I'm at least relatively certain that I can't personally excommunicate anyone, and my desultory research into whether I am empowered to exorcise has been flat, stale, and unprofitable. But to get back to my original point, I think my SUV is some sort of cursed locus of heresy, because every now and then when I am driving the kids places they nail ninety-five theses of hot-place-bound blasphemy to my forehead. Like this Sunday:

Evan (8 years old): Daddy, I think Jesus was born 2009 years ago.

Abby (6 years old): Nuh-UH! You're making that up!

Me: Well, more or less. A little bit more, actually. More like — uh — 2014 years.

Evan: Wait, what? It's 2014? Oh NO!

Elaina (2 years old): 'ESUS!

Me: No. You're on the right track. We count the years from when Jesus was born. But the count is sort of off, because some monk fu . . . because some monk made a math mistake.

Abby: Like a chipmunk?

Evan: (offended) CHIPMUNKS. CAN'T. DO. MATH.


Me: No. Not a chipmunk. A monk, m-o-n-k. Someone who . . . uh . . . writes stuff down. He mixed up the dates.

Evan: Why didn't Jesus tell the monk that he got His birthday wrong?

Me: . . . I'm guessing . . . he didn't want to make him feel bad?

Evan: That's nice.

Me: Anyway, so Jesus was probably actually born in . . .

Evan: WAIT. Isn't Jesus God?

Me: Yeessss . . . .

Evan: But I thought God was God. If Jesus is God, who is God?

Me: Okay, see, that's complicated. Jesus is God's son, but Jesus is also . . .

Evan: . . . an' if Jesus was born 14 years ago, when was God born!

Abby: GOD wasn't BORNED! (rolling eyes)

Me: Right, God wasn't born, God was always . . .

Evan: But was Jesus born? Because Christmas is Jesus being born, right?

Me: (seeing the trap, unable to escape it) Right . . . .

Evan: So if Jesus is God . . . and Jesus was born . . .

Me: Okay, okay, okay, okay, I see where you're going with that. But Jesus is . . . uh . . . just one aspect of God.


Abby: I thought that was a bad word.

Evan: Like BUTT!


Me: [panicking]: WOW! LOOK! A doggy! Everyone LOOK AT THE DOGGY! HI, DOGGY! [waiving manically at woman walking dog down street, who looks alarmed]

That's A Sign of Respect In Some Cultures

The scene: a park, where I am watching Evan (now 8 ) play his first T-ball game of the season (one home run, two doubles, seven outs as first baseman) while Abby (now 5) and Elaina (now 2) play in the grass next to a wash.

Then suddenly:


ME: . . .


ME: I beg your pardon.


ME: Surely this is your mother's influence.

ABBY: She means ducks. We see ducks.

ME: Really?


So we go see the ducks. The ducks, I note, quickly waddle away in the trickle of water across the wash when the girls approach the fence.

ME: (suspiciously) Were you being nice to the ducks?

ABBY: (indignant) Yes!


ME: Really? You were being nice?

ABBY: Yes! We threw sticks at them!