12 July 2012 – 9:30 PM – hanging out after dinner
Me [awkwardly]: So, um, you’re 11 and a half now right?
Rhiannon [suspiciously]: Duh!
Me: Well, I’m only saying because there’ll be a point in your life soon that…
Rhiannon: [flatly]: No, I haven’t gotten my period yet.
Me [taken aback]: Okay, fine. And you know what to do when you do get it?
Rhiannon [rolling her eyes]: Please. I’m going to use pads.
Me [hesitatingly]: And you know why you get your period, right?
Rhiannon [sighing deeply]: It’s the menstrual cycle, Daddy. It basically means you’re not pregnant but I’m not in the mood to explain it all to you right now.
Me [resignedly]: Fine, so you know all about how babies are made and everything, I suppose?
Rhiannon [dismissively]: Of course. Penis in vagina followed by ejaculation. Mummy says you do this far too often for your own good.
Me: Ugh! Aren’t you the one who was tormenting me last time about being girlfriendless?! My penis hasn’t been going anywhere!
Rhiannon: Mummy says it’s about time you stopped thinking with your “thing” for awhile.
Me [pretending I didn’t hear that]: Anyway, do you have any questions about… well, you know. I’m here to talk and listen like a responsible parent.
Rhiannon: Daddy, here is everything I know about sex….
Me [10 minutes later, pale and awestruck]: Rhiannon, can you please leave the room for awhile?
Me: I need to download some porn to see what I’ve been missing out on all these years.
13 July 2012 – 3:20 PM – on the way to the parc Laurier swimming pool
Rhiannon: We’re doing a mock Parliament in Grade 6 next year.
Rhiannon: I’m going to be the leader of the opposition.
Me [incredulous]: The NDP?!
Rhiannon [smirking]: Yep!
Me [pointing accusatorily]: Gaaaaaaa! Commie! Kill it! Kill it!
Rhiannon: Settle down. Why do people say you’re such a redneck conservative, anyways?
Me: Because “the people” don’t know shit.
Rhiannon: What’s that supposed to mean?
Me: It means that just because I have admitted to my socialist friends that I have voted for the conservatives in the past doesn’t mean that I drive around in a pickup truck with a gun rack on the back and drape a confederate flag off of my balcony. And no, I didn’t vote for Stephen Harper!!!
Rhiannon: What’s socialism?
Me: Back in the 19th Century (around when John Fry was born), a misguided genius, named Karl Marx, believed that capitalism, the ability to generate and increase personal wealth in a free market economy, was the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”. He believed that the poor, downtrodden workers would rise up against their capitalist bosses, overthrow them and create a “dictatorship of the proletariat”, or socialism. This new system would, in turn, be taken over by a stateless, classless society called communism in which all wealth is equally distributed and everyone, no matter how lazy, incompetent or mean-spirited would ride happily off into a group-hug sunset of warm-and-fuzzy goodwill. Not surprisingly, Marx was born and raised in a wealthy middle-class family in the Rhineland-Palatinate and had the luxury to loiter around the corridors of the universities in Bonn and Berlin, play with his iPhone and spend his evenings banging pots and pans together in outrage over a $350-a-year tuition hike.
Me: Okay, let’s say I pay you $20 to clean the whole house top-to-bottom.
Rhiannon: Yeah, right!
Me: It’s a hypothetical! Now, after you’ve done the work and I give you the $20 dollars. It’s yours, right?
Me: And let’s say you decide to take that $20 and buy all the things you need to make a delicious cake.
Rhiannon: Mmmmm – cake!
Me: Yes, but let’s say you don’t know how to make a cake and you need my help to make it.
Rhiannon: Pwaahaahaha!!! I know how to make a cake, Daddy! You need instructions on how to make a cucumber and cheese sandwich!
Me: It’s a hypothetical, damn you! So, you’ve made an awesome cake to reward yourself after a lot of hard work. You might want to give me a generous slice for hiring you to do the work in the first place and then having assisted you in making the cake afterwards. You may want to share some of it with your friends. But at the end of the day it’s your cake and you can distribute it how you please, including just keeping it all for yourself (although that would make you a bit of a jerk). Now, if you were under a socialist regime in this country, the government would take that cake you had worked so hard to make and divide it into 34,482,779 slices so that everyone got their “fair share” even though no one, especially you, would be satisfied at the end of the day. The central tenet of socialism can be summed up in that hackneyed English idiomatic proverb “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”. I mean, seriously, what is the point of having a cake if you can’t eat the bloody thing?!
Rhiannon: There’s so much wrong with what you just said. First, I’d never clean the house top-to-bottom – I’d make you do it and not pay you a penny after the job was done. Second, after you finished cleaning, I’d send you out on a grocery run to buy the ingredients for my cake that YOU would make because you love me so much. Third, I would instruct you on how to make the cake (because, don’t forget, you can’t even make a cucumber and cheese sandwich by yourself) and dole out appropriate punishments as you would undoubtedly not listen and screw it all up. Fourth, once the cake was finally made after aforementioned screw-ups, I’d give myself a generous portion, a slice for your roommate (because she’s nice and keeps you in check) and the rest I’d give to your fish because they’re pretty and you’re always murdering them.
Me: Hey, that’s just a dictatorship! What about my piece of the cake?!
Rhiannon: Now who sounds like a socialist? You can’t have my cake and eat it too!
Me: I hate hypotheticals.
15 July 2012 – 7:30 PM – beginning of supper in my mother’s solarium with her and her boyfriend, Derek
My mother [raising her glass of wine]: Ah, isn’t this lovely and serene. Cheers everyone!
Me [to Rhiannon]: Can you pass the pepper, bonehead.
Rhiannon [retorting]: You’re the bonehead, bonehead!
My mother: No one’s a “bonehead,” children. I want a nice, civilized conversation for a change.
Me [jerking my thumb at Rhiannon]: This bonehead has so many bones in her head, there’s scarcely any room left for her peanut-sized brain!
Rhiannon: Oh yeah?! Daddy is such a bonehead, if you dug up a graveyard, you’d find fewer bones than are inside his head.
My mother: Stop this at once! We’re trying to have a polite meal here with interesting intellectual repartee!
Me: Rhiannon, you’re such a bonehead that mangy dogs anxiously follow you around in the vain hope of chewing on your bony head. Now pass me the salad, bonehead!
Rhiannon: Daddy, make sure you keep all of the bones from your fish after supper. I’m going to shove them in your ears to add to your bone collection, bonehead!
Derek: This is so bad.
Me: The average human body has 208 bones. I’m willing to bet that bonehead over there has at least that many in her bonehead alone.
Derek: That’s it – I’m eating my supper in front of the TV. I’d rather watch boneheads cycling through France.
My mother [getting up from the table]: I’m coming with you.
Me [staring after them]: What do you think their problem is, bonehead?
Rhiannon: No idea. Pass the cheese plate, bonehead.
Me: Don’t be rude, bonehead. Say please when you ask for something.