October 5th, 2011


This is not a review of The Phantom Tollbooth

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

Look, parenting has its challenges.  We know that.  We embrace it.  But still – some days, the life of a parent takes turns that are uneffingimaginable.

Some nights are even more bizzare.  Take tonight – please!

No, OK, but still.  I got them to bed.  SOBUMD and I were in bed.  She paused to use the restroom, I paused at my PC to turn this damn thing off – and a light came on, flickering, like a bad horror movie with no soundtrack, the only sound a soft footfall like you hear just before the words you know are coming, the scream, the – no, not a scream.  Just a quiet voice from behind the flashlight:  “Daddy, I’m still hungry.  Can I have a bologna sandwich?”

The following exchange is a verbatim transcript of my life.

Number One Son:   Can I have a bologna sandwich?  I ate all my dinner.
BUMD:  No you didn’t, you – oh, wait, that was yesterday.  Damn, you did eat all your dinner.  Stop pointing that light at me.  OK, let’s look downstairs.
Number One Son:   I did eat all my dinner.
BUMD:  Yes, an entire chicken drumstick.  But still, OK.  So, we have bread that I have to slice, which I’m really not up for, or we have the sourdough that you didn’t like, or I can get – oh, hey, we have cookies!  You can have a bologna wrap, or you can have a fresh-made chocolate chip cookie.  Your choice.
Number One Son:   Cookie.
BUMD:   Deal.

I walked around to turn off the Human Tape Recorder’s light, and by the time I was done with that he’d walked into his room, munching on a cookie.  I followed him in as he started climbing into his bed.

BUMD:   You are NOT getting in that bed eating a cookie.  In the chair, at the desk, now.
Number One Son:   Mmh.  OK.
BUMD:   While you’re there at the desk, you can finish the cookie and your reading log!  Here they are in front of you, and here’s a pen.  I know it’s not due until Friday, but you haven’t filled it out all week.  What did you read Monday?
Number One Son:    Fmmtm Tllboof [pointing to Norton Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth]
BUMD:   Ah, great book.  So, write it down there!
Number One Son:    OK.
BUMD:   OK, you need a “thoughtful thought” about the book.  Tell me something about the main character.
Number One Son:   Milo is a weird kid who doesn’t understand anything at first.
BUMD:   OK, I’ll take that.  Write that down.  Have you finished this book?
Number One Son:   [silence]
BUMD:   Hmm.  [flips through pages remembered only dimly, if fondly]  Do you remember how Rhyme and Reason returned?
Number One Son:   Yes.
BUMD:   Tell me.
Number One Son:   They rode on the back of a demon named Ri Ghastly, who told them they were no strangers to love.
BUMD:   What?  [flips through book faster]  I don’t remember that.  Tell me more?
Number One Son:   He said we’re no strangers to love.  You know the rules [singing] – And – So – Do – I …
BUMD:   What?  BOY?  Did you just Rickroll me?   Did you just sit there and Rickroll your own father?
Number One Son:   [giggling] It’s not a Rickroll if it’s not a video!
BUMD:   Get in your bed.  Get in your bed right now!!!
Number One Son:   [still giggling]
BUMD:  I cannot believe you would Rickroll your own father.
Number One Son:   [still giggling] I was just singing!
BUMD:  In the bed with you!

I don’t know what’s scarier – that he Rickrolled me, that he KNEW HOW to Rickroll me, or that he pulled it off so well.  I’m still laughing at Ri Ghastly, but still – “Huh?”  Damn, he got me again.