Natalie tells Perry: “Soak up the niceness that I’m giving you.” Right. The niceness. The kind that usually makes him growl.
“Daddy’s working on the slot machine. And I’m scared. I’m worried that he’ll get a shot.”
The Ruffs win the Puppy Bowl! Natalie wants to know why the fans in the stands are fake. I tell her it’s because they want it to appear like there are thousands of fans. “I’m a thousand of a fan.” And I’m stumped.
Natalie wants Daddy, Mommy and Cindy to join her in the upstairs play room. “Don’t you see? I’m being lazy in action!”
I cock my head to the side to show the hilarious pose Riley just did, but Natalie is not impressed. “Mm. That’s just what birds do. Understand it or don’t.”
I took a pic of Natalie’s newly-created label for Passion Fruit Fashion.
Mom: “I’ve got your picture, Honey, and it’s beautiful.”
Natalie: “Thank you.”
Mom: “Want to see it?”
Natalie: “Not at this single moment.”
“I can see your coin hole.” Slot. Coin slot.
“I do NOT want my hair cut! It’s fine the way it is! And it’s almost like wasting the hair that you grow! And that’s the way it is! And that was not supposed to be funny!”
Natalie’s thawed frozen mango is hard and tart. I explain that sometimes it’s less ripe, but it’s still fine to eat and she should eat it. “It’s not ‘less’,” she says. “This is down to where it just became a bud. Super-hard.”
“I’m taking my glasses off and re-putting them on.”
If everyone had to choose their own last name, Natalie would choose Pool. “Just sounds kinda…relaxful. Mandel just doesn’t sound relaxful.”
Natalie: “You’re a lady of a kind.”
Mommy: “Aw, thanks! …What does that mean?”
Natalie: “It means I love you.”
Mommy: “I love you more than I love coffee.”
Natalie: “Wow. Really? That’s a lot of love.”
Mommy: “Of course.”
Natalie: “I love you more than I love Peanuts comics. And that’s a lot of love.”
Mommy: “I know.”
Natalie: “I love Peanuts comics, but I lurve you. I’m 99 up on loving Peanuts comics. If I got up to 100, it would be lurve.”
Mommy: “You can lurve Peanuts. It’s okay.”
Natalie: “REALLY?? I CAN?!? Then I lurve Peanuts comics and I double-lurve you!” She rolls down the window. “I LURVE PEANUTS COMICS!!!” The window is rolled up, then back down. “AND I LOVE MY MOMMY!!!”
“My blubby chubby. Boobs. Belong to my Mommy. Of my life.”
At school, they’re doing a random lunch exchange for Valentine’s Day. Each person writes their favorite lunch (sans PB though) and Natalie picked her teacher! She’s worried that Cindy will not be thoroughly satisfied with the food Natalie brings in for her. “She will probably reject to something.”
Natalie LOVES Central Avenue. It’s in the middle of everything and it’s always busy. “Even on a cloudy day like this, it brights everything up.” She loves downtown Albany around Lark Street, because when not a lot of people are around, you feel like you have the city to yourself. However, she acknowledges one risk related to traffic: “You could get seriously hit.”
Natalie likes toddlers, but not babies. Babies throw up all the time for no reason. “They throw up for no reason whatsoever.” She said she’s not going to allow her baby to do that.
We ate at wonderful Ramona’s Cafe today. We smelled bacon and sausage. They smelled great to both of us, although we don’t eat such things. “What did the pig ever do to be eaten?” Nothing. “Well,” she continued, “I don’t like the way they shake mud onto you. But other than that, I like them.” I asked when a pig ever shook mud onto her. “Never. But it can…”
Being on Lark Street makes Natalie nostalgic about the Pride Parade. “When’s the next Gay Fair?”
I’m telling Daddy about an unpleasant conversation Natalie and I had in the car about her invention submission at school. “Please don’t try to replicate my whiny voice.”
Daddy’s going shopping. I put in a vote: “Bananas.” Natalie immediately exercises a useless veto: “Forget the banana.” Daddy wants to know why, since Natalie recently wanted banana – for a change – after watching Master Chef Junior. “What’s the point of eating banana,” she says, if you’re just going to poop it out?”
Daddy comes back with groceries before our expected snowstorm. He brought me a rare treat: crunchy Cheetos. Natalie immediately turns to me: “I’m wondering if I could have some. Would you be generous enough…to…”
Mom: “This is a lovely song called Harvest Moon, and it has notes I hope you’ll learn to play on the guitar someday, called harmonics.”
Natalie: “I am NOT gonna learn harmonica notes.”
“There’s love spare for both of you in my heart.”
“If anyone sees me eating snow, it’s normal.”
We’re trying to clear some of the more heinous clutter for Kim’s visit with her almost-five-year-old, Jocelyn. “But,” says Natalie, “We shouldn’t clean so much when that’s just giving the wrong impression of ourselves.”
When it was time for them to leave, Natalie told Jocelyn: “She’s just trying to hitnitize you. Don’t let her.”
We just watched Into The Woods. Natalie wasn’t too crazy about it. I said it was probably for an older audience. “And too many songs. Like every two sentences there was a song.”
“This is the shortest weekend of my life.”
On fashion models: “They don’t have to be that skinny. They’re being hypocrites.”
“Regal Albany 7 Criminals?…Well I don’t know how to read ‘Cenemas’!”
Sometimes a brutally bad song gets stuck in my head, and lately it’s been Daddy’s fault, because he has introduced the Worst Musical In History into our home: Young Abe Lincoln. He even uploaded it to YouTube, in five parts, to share the horror with the world. The songs are unpleasantly amateurish and corny, and VERY EAR-WORMY. So this morning I start mumbling about how much I hate Daddy, and Natalie chides me that my timing sucks: “You shouldn’t hate him right next to Valentine’s Day.”
Last I looked, Daddy was still out there, shoveling, before running an errand. Natalie wants me to get out there and finish the job. I ask Natalie to see if he’s still out there. “I wouldn’t think so, and I wouldn’t depend on it.” When he got back, Daddy couldn’t tell I had done anything out there! Natalie vouched for me though. “She was shovelin’…she looked pretty hard-goin’.”
Natalie’s annoying us by doing rabbit ears behind Daddy when I’m trying to take a professional balloon pic. And she actually lectures him: “This is what having a kid is.”
Natalie is talking to her old friend Emily in California and she’s on some topic about a school project where they’re supposed to write in some kind of fancy handwriting. “Not as precise and fancy, it should be fancy…but it should be what I would call, bright and energetic. …Neon-y…”
Th sweater comes off the heater and goes onto the girl. “Whoaaa. That’s the Daddy I’ve heard of. One day you’ll be famous for warming up the coats for the poor people.”
We do 50+30+20, then 70+30. “How do people come up with this stuff. I wish there was no such thing as math. Yet.”
School bus! “Okay. Let’s not do the ‘good day’ and everything. He’s already here. I’d love to, but I can’t.”
“Good night, Fluffenstuck. Fluffenstuck?! I’m getting old.”
Natalie! It’s time to get up. I don’t want to keep calling you. “I’m sorry. I’m thinking, and you really have to stay in your thought.” Okay, how about now? “I’m still in my thought. I guess I can finish it on the bus.” It turns out she was trying to continue a rare good dream in which I allowed her to finish an Oreo.
“I hate cursive. I only do it for other people to enjoy it. It’s hateable. I can’t even do a ‘b’, and that’s the easiest. I can only do a’s and r’s and c’s.”
“USDA? United States D’of America?”
Daddy is going to rid us of some icicle dangers. “Be as careful as you can, Dad. But of course knock it down like you mean it.”
Natalie’s teachers are down for the count. Cindy has the flu, and Patrick’s father died so he went to the funeral. “I just hope Patrick’s funeral doesn’t show up too soon.”
“I don’t want to take dance lessons. I’m already so good at free dance.”
Overheard with the porcelain kitty salt and pepper shakers and other knickknacks:
“I thought everything would be free. Except the souvenirs. And you would pay for that. I have lint in my pocket. All right. Give it to me. …You may go to the bathroom….Listen. We’re on a boat. This life is a boat life. You have to respect that. …Aren’t you afraid you’ll fall? We’re two inches above land. Okay? …We’re at land. …Thank you. …I’m back. Urgh. Smell. Yeah. I know what will help the smell. What are you doing? Filling this up with my beautiful smell.”
Now she’s talking about sewing camp. They’re sewing shirts and pants. “Remember, people, we’re competing.”
We’re still reading The Cartoon History of the Universe and just finished the stories of Gautama (Buddhism) and Mahavira (Jainism). Natalie is a big Buddha fan; she has a growing collection of Buddhas and she likes to meditate. I ask what part of Buddha’s story she liked best. “The part where he got fat.” Yeah, that was good. He overdosed on pork at age 80. (So much for moderation in all things.) I mention how the fat version of the Buddha seems to be the one embraced by the Chinese, and the skinny one by Indians. I ask Natalie how she thinks the Chinese might have learned about Buddhism. “Maybe they heard about it in the newspaper? Or…the…shredded rock? The news rock. It’s the news rock.” She’s only a few thousand years and miles off.
I’m going to take a detour to brag now, about how my child is actually paying attention to The Cartoon History of The Universe. Today Andrew was teaching the kids about our ancient ape ancestors and what evidence we have that points to our own apish past. Kids shouted out things like bones, and animal bones, and stuff like that. And Natalie said: “Tools!” And Andrew – she says – dramatically dropped his marker and said: “TOOLS!” I don’t often get a scholastic kvell, so I’m going to bask in this one. Kvell, kvell, kvell.
A mountain of evidence points to a Middle School boy, Lucas, having a massive crush on Natalie. The Spanish teacher had to tell him to stop talking to her in class, and she saw him banging his head on his locker while his friend counseled him and pointed out that Natalie was right over there. “I just hope he doesn’t propose to me.”
Daddy: “Give me my fortune.”
Natalie: “You will have ugly surroundings, but you will be the gem and light of the world.”
Mommy: “Daddy’s silly.”
Natalie: “No he’s–yes he is.”
I’ve done a fair amount of organizing and cleaning today, and Natalie has been asked to do her share. “But that stuff that’s yours, please deal with by yourself.” Oh. That’s rich.
“If I could create a new religion, and what we worshiped, I think it would be apples.” Why apples? “Apples are so special. It’d either be apples or water. Very special things for your body. Just like how, sometimes, you know like how, in that religion, they worshiped cows, I think it’s called Yahu Wahu? Yahu Wahu! Be careful reading aloud.” (If you haven’t read The Cartoon History of The Universe, don’t try to understand the last 75% of this one.)
“I’m not into romance. Why are you going all over it? I wish I could go back into kindergarten.” Why? “It’s easy. It’s all easy! There’s no pressure in kindergarten.”
“When people are going to be looking at you model, it’s a little pressuring.”
“But, different taste buds have their own likes. Every taste bud is an individual.”
Watching The Wizard of Oz with Skyler.
Mom: “Nobody uses the word ‘aver’ any more.”
Natalie: “But it’s still cool. It’s retro that way.”
“That must be one of the most famous lines of history.”
Skyler: “What will you wish for when you have a thousand cranes?”
Natalie: “No more, ever again.”
They don’t understand my laughter. They think it’s a nice wish.
“I hate the na-na-na clean up song.” (Daddy says: Is that the one that goes, “Na-na-na-na. Na-na-na-na. Hey, hey, clean up.”?)
Mom: “I don’t wanna go get my oil changed.”
Natalie: “Self-discipline, Mom.”
Mom: “Daddy’s swaying.”
Natalie: “He looks cool doing that. He looks like seaweed. Manly seaweed. I can actually see muscle growing in there.”
Skyler’s mom took the girls to the gem and fossil show at the state museum. “Did you know that jet is polished black coal? It’s not rare, but it’s not not rare.” I look it up. Do you know that it’s also called lignite? “Hm. That’s interesting. I’ll keep it onto me. Just in case. No, literally.”
We are watching Big Hero 6. “That girl, who blew up the pink ball, she’s an optimist. A positivityist. Positivityism.”
Natalie: “There’s more than a billion people in the world.”
Mom: “Yeah. Several billion.”
Natalie: “Really? I thought it was only one billion, twenty-five thousand something.”
“I love Ana, but sometimes she can get, so, out of my comfort zone.”
Natalie was unhappy with me at the diner. She asked if she and Pam could get gumballs, and if not, could she put the quarters in the give-a-penny, take-a penny. I said no to both. She lectured me. “There’s such a thing as generousy. Like giving coins.” She cried in the car on the way home. She said she’s devoted her life to being kind and thoughtful and generous, and if she can’t give, she feels like she’s nothing. We’re now putting pennies in her pockets so she’ll always be prepared for the stealth restaurant change-making charitable giving.
I knock on the bathroom door and Natalie tells me I can come in. She’s on the toilet and asks what I’m doing. “I hope it’s nothing too personal. Like going to the bathroom even though I’m already going to the bathroom. What if you actually did that? Would it be alright if I slap you? On the face? …Why not?”
Natalie’s in Drama Kids camp this week.
Mom: “Are you recording today?”
Natalie: “Yeah. And no, I don’t want any special hair.”
Mom: “Well, yeah. What do you take me for?”
Natalie: “An old lady.” BAM!
Mom and Dad: “OHHHHHH.”
Mom: “You goof.”
Natalie: “If you called me that, I’d storm off into my room and slam the door.”
Mom: “If I called you an old lady?”
Natalie: “No, a goofball.”
Mom: “But I did…I’m confused.” As usual.
“Mom, Riley’s eating one of her feathers! It’s dangerous. It’s fatal, isn’t it? It’s not? That’s disgusting.”
I admonish the girl not to keep picking pilled areas from her felt hat from Estonia. If you keep picking at them, I say, the felt will get too thin. She says that’s okay. No, it could get holes, I say. She says that would be okay. No, I say, it’s not okay. You wouldn’t want holes in your most precious hat. This prompts today’s gibberish. “My most precious hat is the hat of love. And my thinking cap too. And also my Somewhere Over the Rainbow hat is pretty special too.”
Mom: “You still need to pick up your drawing and craft area.”
Natalie: “I did. It’s technically clean. There’s some things left, but it’s technically clean.”
Natalie couldn’t decide what to make. “I don’t know. There’s just so many things to think of out of my comfort zone.” We went with the strawberry Nesquik cookies, and we did great with Daddy’s mise en place.
Natalie’s telling Grandma Dotty about Murder Mystery/Secret Agent drama camp this week. “A lot of ten o’clock kind of spies.” ???
It’s not often we have Dunkin’ Donuts in the house.”Oh my gosh. Daddy, I’m so happy with you.” I start laughing as Natalie opens the box. “Dad said I could. And I am not turning down a doughnut.”
“Can’t wait for midnight to struck.”
Natalie asked about how Daddy proposed to me. “In what tone, like?”
We talked about where I lived while I was dating Daddy. I said I lived near Liesl’s neighborhood. Near Delmar. Natalie was impressed: “You live in such a peaceful, treeable place.”
Natalie: “Did someone die?”
Mom: “Nooo, I was saying the Drama Kids movie from last week’s camp isn’t up on YouTube yet.”
Natalie: “I thought you were saying ‘no’ to someone being alive. After a car crash.”
Mom: “Were you just talking about that?”
Mom: “Then why would you think that?
Natalie: “I don’t knowww…I don’t knoww.”
It’s dinnertime and I am only allowing a demonstration of a drawing technique if the roasted carrots still keep going in the mouth. Natalie, of kohss, disagrees: “I’m allowed to draw whenever I want, ’cause it’s my joy to life.”
On Skyler: “She gets very offended by stuff. It’s wowing.”
“Nice job,” said Harold, astonished. Natalie kept repeating this in various tones for a minute during dinner, claiming it came from nowhere.
Inspired by Skyler, Natalie intends to wear pj’s tomorrow. “Oh yeah, I’ll be showin’ off. I mean, why not??”
“I’m sorry I didn’t say ‘Have a” but I was trying to talk like Olden Times. Like ‘Good Day!’ Have a Good Day!”
“Oh Perry, I’m quite scared for you. …I know I can’t hold on to you forever…”
I’m done reading The Cartoon History of the Universe to the girl for tonight. “Actually, I have some thinking to do. And I have some Perry loving to catch up on.”
Daddy: “How’s your room?”
Natalie: “It’s good. Trust me.”
“I could hit any dog out of the ballpark, but that wouldn’t be kind to dogkind.” So..maybe this is the one that finally convinces me that the child is perhaps differenter than I had suspected.
To Mom: “You are very sacred.” Turns to Dad. “You are very sacred.”
Just like that. I love atheistic semi-Buddhist children.
Mom: “What does gobblesmith mean?”
Natalie: “I have no idea. It’s dramatic. That’s all that counts.”
“I’m readier than eadier.”
“There’s no such thing as breaking a promise when you don’t know if the promise is going to pay off.” ??!
Mom: “I love you more than you can know.”
Natalie: “For once, I believe you. It’s parent love. It’s believable. It’s unbelievable. It’s believable that you love me more than I love you. But unbelievable how much. …You’re so soft. Soft like a woman.”
This morning we shared our dreams, and mine had to do with a store owner in a mall re-setting my diamond but actually stealing it and replacing it with glass, which began to crack and disintegrate and finally turn into huge potato chips. MY magician friend Ray was in the dream, first as a magician and then as my lawyer who was going to help me confront the swindler. (Unfortunately, I had not made the lady sign anything, so I had no proof.) But I first accused the wrong person, a pharmacist at the Rite Aid next to the offending store who was Asian, as was the swindler. In the dream, called the pharmacist a criminal. Natalie found this offensive. “Bad Mom. Bad Mom. Bad Mom. Bad Mom. Don’t threaten Asian ladies. I love Asia.” You love everything except those paintings, I said. “Those are China.” No, they’re from Japan, I said. It’s part of Asia. “It’s more of an island,” she rationalized. Oh my god, I love her so much.
I thought I had canceled the MoMA catalog, a dangerous thing to have in the house, but we have one right now and Natalie enjoys slobbering over it as much as we do. First she noted that some nesting tables were as much as a car payment. (Actually at least four payments.) Then she said how much she likes this lamp, which is only $190. “One hundred ninety. Of course, most lamps cost one hundred ninety, because they’re electric.”