Abby has fallen in love with Justin Bieber, through osmosis. One of her teenage friends has a huge crush on Justin Bieber, so Abby has joined the idolization bandwagon. When we walk through a department store, she is in awe whenever we pass by a Justin Bieber poster or T-shirt or postcard. She wants us to all stop and take notice, as if someone had left a Mona Lisa propped up in the center of the store and we were among the few privileged ones who got to experience this miracle.
One morning as I was shaving, she came into the bathroom, singing, “Yea-yah, Bay-bah, Bay-ba. Yea-yah, Bay-ba, Bay-ba.”
“Who sings that song?” I asked, fearing the answer.
She smiled proudly. “Justin Bieber.”
“Oh. Does he not know how to say the word, ‘baby’?” I asked casually.
She paused to think for a second. Then she left the room, still singing, “Yea-yah, Baby, Baby …”
“Mommy, what do you do if you have a chicken on your head?”
Abby had spent the entire afternoon texting her imaginary boyfriend on her toy cellphone. She handed me her cellphone and said, “My boyfriend, Jackson, wants to talk to you. He’s asking me out to dinner tonight.”
“Oh,” I said. “You mean he wants to ask me if it’s okay to ask you out?”
“Yeah,” she said.
I figured this was a good thing to encourage for later years, so I took the call. “Hello, Jackson? How old are you?”
“He’s nine,” Abby told me.
“What?” I said into the phone. “Jackson, do you know that you are more than TWICE my daughter’s age? I’m not too comfortable with that. Will you be nice to her and hold the door open for her, and order food she likes and not make her eat anything yucky? … Okay, we’ll meet with you a few minutes before dinner and if you seem nice, you and Abby can go out.”
Abby pumped her fist and said, “YES.”
She was all excited and kept dancing around, as Nicki talked to a neighbor at the door. Abby said she’s so happy because she’s going out to dinner tonight, which sounded great to Nicki’s friend.
Nicki said, “Wait, you have to hear the whole story. Abby, who are you going out to dinner with?”
“My boyfriend, Jackson. He’s nine.” She started punching buttons on her phone.
“And what are you doing with your phone now?” Nicki asked.
“I’m texting him,” Abby said.
Later, Abby came over by me again and took another call on her cellphone. “Hi, Nina,” she said. Then she got angry. “… WHAT? … You went out to dinner with JACKSON? And he KISSED you? That’s it. I’m calling the police on you. Goodbye.” She hung up on Nina and started dialing another number, shaking her head. “I’m calling 911,” Abby said. “She’s going to jail.”
I tried to offer some helpful advice. “You know, there seems to be a lot of drama going on with Jackson. I’m not sure you should be going out with him.”
She shook her head at me, giving me that grown-ups-just-don’t-understand look. “No. JACKSON is good.”
“Well, he seems to be attracting a lot of psychotic girlfriends, don’t you think?”
Abby put her hands on her hips. “Well, he found ME first!”
Abby was watching a cartoon, in which a machine made a dog start “mooing” like a cow. I started mooing, too. Abby kept asking me questions, to which I responded, “Moo.” Then she touched her fingers together, and waved her fingers at me. “Try now,” she said.
“Try what now?” I asked, my normal voice restored.
“I got skills,” she said proudly.
Abby made a huge snowman after our blizzard and named it “Snow Dude”.
Our hopes for Spring were slightly dashed by a brief snowfall today. Abby later sat in front of our back porch, looking out the glass doors and pretending to be a “weather woman”.
“Okay, we’re back now with weather,” she told the imaginary camera. “The weather today is snowy and 60 degrees …”
When I’m 18, I get a boyfriend, right?
Nicki told Abby that no one can lick their own elbows. Determined to prove her wrong, Abby entertained Nicki for several minutes as she tried to do it. She finally licked her right hand and touched her left elbow with it. Definition of “stubborn”.
Abby was singing about her bouncy ball: “My golden ball is magic, it turns into a ball …!”
Abby came up with a rap song about Noah:
I’ve got – a little brother
He’s one – year old
His name – is [Noah].
And I call him – Mister Boo-Boo
… or Susie!
We don’t know where she comes up with this stuff.
We were driving in the van when we passed by a large farmhouse. “I think that was a barn,” Abby said. “It had a chicken-spin.”
“A what?” I asked.
“On the roof,” she said.
Nicki understood. “Oh, honey, that’s called a ‘weather vane’.”
One morning after I combed Noah’s hair. Abby said, “It doesn’t look combed. When it’s combed, it’s supposed to look better.”
For a year, we’ve worked with Abby about how to deal with difficult kids. She told us how one kid often refuses to share video games with her, and shuts off the computer when she tries to use it. We asked her what she does when that happens. “Do you yell at them? Do you hit them?” we wondered.
“No,” she said. “I just walk away.”
“That’s great,” we told her.
“And then I just say, ‘Whatever,’ in my head.”
Abby threw a ball for Noah to chase after. “See, Mom?” she said proudly. “I taught him how to fetch!”
“Can we just donate my brother?”
Nicki was teaching Abby’s Sunday school class and asked the kids, “Do you know what a ‘rival’ is?”
“Yes,” Abby said. “That’s when you ‘arrive’ somewhere.”
Someone gave Abby a giant pump-action water gun for her five-year old birthday party. After the party, she immediately tested it out on Nicki, spraying her from behind. She was giggling her head off as Nicki gaped at her. “What do you think you’re doing, little girl?” Nicki asked her.
“I love you!” Abby beamed.
“You love me?” Nicki said. “You just soaked me with water!”
“I was talking to my water gun,” Abby explained.
“I don’t like carrots. I like pickles, which are like carrots.”
Abby (to Noah): “Buddy, you’re gonna kill me when I’m dead.”
“Mom, smell my hand. No, do it. It smells good!”
I tucked Abby into bed with her beloved dinosaur puppet, “Rexy”, and told her we needed to take the puppet back to the library the next day. She was very sad, and I reminded her we’re just borrowing it, and we can check it out again later.
The next day, Abby had a playdate at our neighbor’s house. After they were there for 20 minutes, our neighbor, Amy, asked Nicki, “Is there a certain dinosaur puppet that’s supposed to go back to the library today?”
“Why, yes, there is,” Nicki asked. “Why do you ask?”
“Abby has apparently hidden it in a drawer. She’s been bragging about it for the last ten minutes and told me all about it. She said she was supposed to return it today, but she doesn’t want to, so she hid it. She’s very proud of herself.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks for letting me know.”
Back at the house later, a DCFS case worker was visiting us to check up on Noah. Nicki went upstairs to find Rexy while Abby entertained the case worker, telling him how happy and excited she was over her clever plan. She explained in a loud voice how she had hidden Rexy away, because she’s supposed to return him to the library, but she didn’t want to because she loves him so much, but she hid him so that she can keep him forever. As she continued monologuing her evil master plan to our confused guest, Nicki glanced around Abby’s room. She immediately spotted it, since Abby had chosen to hide it in a toy cabinet with clear plastic drawers. The bright blue dinosaur was right on top of the other toys in the top drawer.
Nicki returned downstairs, holding up the puppet. “Abby, look what I found!”
Abby’s jaw dropped and she stood frozen with shock over Nicki’s parental superpowers. She couldn’t imagine how Nicki had foiled her again.
“Rexy was hiding in a drawer! Can you believe that? Isn’t he silly?”
“I take it that’s the dinosaur puppet,” the case worker said, laughing.
“Yes, this is Rexy. He has to go back to the library today. What was he thinking, hiding in Abby’s room?”
Abby sighed heavily and trudged away, shaking her head in frustration.
“Mom, you ruin all my plans. Later today, I’m gonna do something in private and not tell you about it!”
“I wish we had a disco ball in our van.”
(running downstairs, singing): “Oh, YEAH! Oh, YEAH! It’s my first day of SCHOO-OOL! It’s my first day of SCHOO-OOL!”
“Mom, you can’t send me to Time Out anymore. That is only for little kids. This is very naughty of you, Mom. Very, very bad. This is boringly stupid!”
Abby has been learning to keep some of her thoughts to herself. Instead of following my instructions to get ready for bed, she kept piddling around, arguing and giving me attitude. I reminded her that we would run out of time for reading stories, and told her again in a firm voice what she still needed to do. “Gee!” she said, shaking her head at me. I asked her what her problem was now. She held up her hands innocently. “All I said was, ‘Gee’.”
“Okay,” I said, letting it go.
“I was going to say, ‘Gee. You’re mean.’ But instead, I just said, ‘Gee.’”
Abby: “I don’t like my toothpaste anymore. It tastes good when I brush my teeth, but after I’m done, it tastes like soap.”
Me: “How would you know it tastes like soap?”
Abby: “Because. I brushed my teeth, and then it tastes like soap.”
Abby lost her first tooth, which led to a whole bunch of new and interesting questions for Nicki that night. “What does the Tooth Fairy look like? Where does she live? Why does she need teeth? How big is she? How will she get into our house? Will she use the chimney? The front door? Does she crawl under the front door? Or does she just use the keyhole? Why do I have to be asleep?”
“Goodnight, honey,” Nicki told her.
“Mommy, I made chocolate milk by spitting into my chocolate pudding.”
Abby was whispering in Noah’s ear, “God loves you, God loves you, and your butt is on fire.”
“I’m not picking up the red leaves, only the brown leaves. I’m allergic to red leaves.”
Abby had been doing very well in Kindergarten, and decided to test my knowledge against hers. “Daddy, I have a math problem for you. Do you know what is 9, plus 14, plus 500, plus 8, plus 12, plus 17, plus 40, plus 6, plus 102, plus 80, plus 95, plus 114, plus 1000?”
I was about to try adding this up, but instead I said, “Oh, yes. We learned that in school. It’s 1,009.”
Abby hunched in her seat, looking grumpy and defeated. “Darnit.”
Abby wanted to play “Store” with her toy cash register and a bunch of Post-It notes that served as receipts. She told me she has lots of breakfast food and other stuff in her store. I asked her for a whole ham and a piece of chocolate cake. “That will be … a dollar,” she said.
“Are you sure it’s a dollar for ham and cake?”
She shrugged. “Yeah. That’s what it costs.”
“Okay, I might shop here often. See you later.”
“Okay. Wait! Do you want a debit card?”
“I don’t know. What do I get with a debit card?”
“Well, if you have a debit card, everything’s free.”
“Oh, okay. That sounds good.” I reminded myself to make sure later that she understands debit cards actually produce invisible charges that affect your bank account.
“Do you want a membership?” she asked.
“What do I get with a membership?”
“Then all your friends can come here.”
“But can’t they come here, anyway?”
She shook her head. “Not if you don’t have a membership.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“Well, that’s the deal. If you don’t have a membership, you don’t get the deal.”
“But that’s not a deal! My friends should just be able to walk in and buy things, like me.”
“They can. If you get a membership.”
“I don’t want a membership! This store is weird!”
“You have to get a membership.”
“If you don’t, my boss will kill you.”
“What? What kind of a store is this, where you kill your customers? I don’t want to shop here anymore.”
“Take the membership!!!” she said, writing on a slip of paper and shoving it at me.
“No. I don’t want one.”
“TAKE IT!!!” She tried shoving it down my shirt, laughing.
“Something’s wrong with you. I don’t want my friends to shop here.”
“Just TAKE IT!”
“No, I’m leaving.”
“Okay, wait.” She returned to her desk and jotted some kind of note to herself. Then she beckoned me over. “Come here.” She handed me the paper she had written on. “You are fired.”
“What? You can’t fire a customer.”
“Too bad. You’re fired.”
“You are one crazy store manager.”
She gave instructions to an unseen boss nearby and pointed to me. “Boss? Kill him. Keep killing him, until I tell you to stop.”
She ignored me and continued to write up membership offers for other customers.
Abby had another loose tooth that was finally wobbly enough to come out. Since I was out at a late church meeting, Nicki and I didn’t get to bed until midnight. The next morning, we discovered our basement was flooding, so I informed Nicki I had to call in to take the day off of work.
Abby was standing at the top of the stairs, holding her tooth in a baggie and looking pathetic. “How come the Tooth Fairy didn’t come?” she asked.
It was so sad. We couldn’t voice the thought we both had: “Who cares? We’re both exhausted and our basement is flooding!” Instead, we acted equally confused, suggesting that the heavy rains must have delayed her.
An hour later, when I emerged from dry-vaccing the basement floor for a few moments, Abby came screaming happily at me and jumping up and down: “Daddy, daddy! TheToothFairycameandshewrotemeanotesayingshewassorryshewaslateandshegavemeawholedollar,awholedollar!!!”
I’m good at deciphering all kinds of communication, so I considered all the possible interpretations of what she might have said, then replied, “… What?”
After Nicki encouraged her to slow down, Abby said, “The Tooth Fairy came! Look!” She waved a dollar bill. “And she gave me a whole dollar!”
“Wow. That’s great!”
“Yeah! And she wrote me a note saying she was sorry she was late. Look!”
She produced a pink Post-It note with somewhat elaborate cursive writing:
Sorry I was late. – The Tooth Fairy
“Doesn’t she write fancy?” Abby asked, admiring the little square message.
Nicki told me they were all downstairs the whole time, so the Tooth Fairy had come while they were watching TV. She later explained that it must have happened sometime after she put a basket of laundry away upstairs. Parents have great powers of illusion when their children are still too young to think everything through.
When I read Abby stories before bed that night, she told me again how nice it was that the Tooth Fairy came and left her a note, even though she was late. She wanted to write the Tooth Fairy a thank-you note, to say, “Thanks for coming and giving me the dollar. I was really sad, but now I’m not. Next time, just give me I-Tunes.”
I told Abby that I don’t think the Tooth Fairy ever gives I-Tunes. (I didn’t add that I-Tunes are useless to a five-year old girl with nothing to play them on.) I told her the Tooth Fairy usually just brings money.
She was okay with that. “Glorious money!” she sang to the heavens. “I just lose a tooth, and BAM! I get money!”
(after she and a friend jumped out of a closet and yelled “Boo” at Nicki) “We scared your eyeballs out!”
Me: Abby, do you remember watching Peter Pan before, with Captain Hook?
Abby: Oh, yeah, I remember the Hook. He tries to be good, but he gets really mean, and he runs after people. And then he gets really mad and rips his shirt off and his skin turns green and he goes, “Grrrr!”
Me: No, honey. That’s the Hulk.
I tried to explain “The Six Million Dollar Man” to Abby, because I figured she would enjoy watching it with me. “Did you see that video I was watching online today, of the guy running? That was The Six Million Dollar Man.”
Abby asked with concern, “Was he running to help a poor man?”
Abby was walking around the house singing, “Feliz Mommydon”. After a couple of weeks, Nicki informed her that it’s actually, “Feliz Navidad”. Abby refused to be convinced of this. Later while they were out driving, the song came on the radio, so Nicki finally got Abby to listen to the lyrics again. Abby turned to Nicki with a smile and said, “See? I was right.”
Cats are very convenient, with what they do.
Me: (kissing Abby goodnight after she had a hard day) “You’re a very special girl, and we love you very much.”
Abby: “You have chip-breath.”
“Did you know that eighty ninety five-hundred thousand years ago, a brachiosaurus could run at one hundred hours a mile? Even a thousand hours a mile!”
We told Abby it would probably snow sometime in the coming week. She was so happy she threw her hands in the air and said, “Oh, yeah! I am the queen!”
I explained that not everything that happens in the universe has anything to do with her.
Abby tried to sell me 3 “ornaments” that she cut out of construction paper and designed with markers.
Abby: Look, Daddy. These are ornaments. This one is $10, this one is $11, and this one is $14.
Me: Wow. Those are some high-priced ornaments. Who are you going to sell those to?
Abby: To people. See, this one is $10, this one is $20, and this one is $30.
Me: That’s a lot. Do you know that one of those ornaments just more than doubled in price? In less than a minute?
Abby: Well, I had to go up in price! Sorry!
We saw a Ford Model T driving down the street and said, “Look, Abby! That’s an old-fashioned car!”
She was awestruck, then got a little sad. “I wish we had an old-fashioned car,” she said.
“Yeah?” I asked. “With a disco ball inside?”
“Yeah,” she said.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!
Saturday, December 31st, 2011