Monday, June 11, 2007

Downtime with Dad

There have been a bunch school breaks lately which means more time with the kids for yours truly. This in turn means more time for the kids in front of the tube. Their recent favorite has been Scooby Doo. I consider this educational TV, since it teaches children to be skeptical of the supernatural and that unexplained phenomenon are usually just the machinations of greedy real estate developers. Also, it shows them that a bunch of kids can in fact make a difference, and they see Scooby and Shaggy face their fears (primarily by eating.)*

The other day they saw an episode where the Mystery Van went to Mexico, so they got to learn a little bit about their mother's heritage. Now my daughter, like so many other Mexican children, is deathly afraid of the chupacabra (literally - "goat sucker.")

So after a long day of day of daddy and Scooby Doo re-runs, when mom got home the kids couldn't wait to tell her about it (and be in the presence of a rational adult).

"Mommy, mommy, the doctor witch! He scary," my daughter began, happily (children are often confused between fear and joy). My wife looked at her quizzically. My son filled in the details, "On Scooby Doo there was a witch doctor. He was really a man who wanted to build condominiums. Pop helps work on condominiums. Daddy says that sometimes pop disguises himself as a witch doctor..."

My wife glared at me, "Why do you tell your children bizarre stories about your father?+ Forget it, why are you letting the children watch shows that scare them?"

She pulled the children close to comfort them, "What did the witch doctor do that was so scary?"

My children leapt up and chanted:
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla bing bang
My wife glared at me. My son announced, "Daddy taught us that!"

My wife, her voice filled with menace, asked, "Did he now?"

"Yeah, and I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids!"

* My theory about Scooby Doo is that there were no monsters. It was just a bunch of kids driving cross-country. But Shaggy was in the back baking, this would explain their constant hunger.

+ My father is a real estate attorney. However, when I was little he was an engineer and he worked for a railroad. I thought that he drove trains. When I learned that he was a different kind of engineer, that primarily sat in offices and used sliderules (this was the 1890s) I was devastated and I've always held this against him. Nonetheless, my creative descriptions of his work have only made him an exotic hero to his grandchildren. Now, my son hopes to go into real estate development and wear monster suits to scare off other bidders, environmentalists, and other obstructionists. Sure - you can use eminent domain - but it just isn't as fun. (Plus, I think he hopes to meet Daphne.)

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