The Food Glossary

One thing everyone knows — especially those on the service end of the restaurant business on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — is that Weevy has special names for food that correspond very little, if at all, with the names on the menu.  There are a surprising number of waiters/waitresses out there who, thanks to the frequency of our visits, speak her culinary language.  For the rest of you, here’s this handy-dandy glossary, complete with the origins of how each dish got its name.  Bon apetit!

Hot-hots: French fries.  This was her first Weevified food name, which came from the missus and me telling her not to eat them right away:  “Don’t touch, hot! Hot!”  She was so young when she started eating them she couldn’t even say “Hot-hots,” much less “French fries,” so they were “‘ot-‘ot” for a while.

Chicken and hot-hots:  Variation on above.  This was her favorite meal for a while, though lately she’s gotten sick of all chicken except Chicken McNuggets.  That particular dish is known as “Chicken nuggets and hot-hots,” and it can be purchased at “Old McDonald’s.”  Props to Helen at Sugar & Plumm for knowing this one (as well as its sibling, “corn dogs and hot-hots”).

Favorite chicken nuggets: Onion rings.  They’ve got the same color breading as chicken nuggets, you see, and they’re fucking awesome, so they became “favorite chicken nuggets.”  I’ve tried to explain to her that there’s no chicken in favorite chicken nuggets, but there may not be much chicken in real chicken nuggets either, so who cares?  Big ups to Kathy and “Mr. Carwash” (more on that name later) at Old John’s for remembering this one.

Backwash: Soda.  This one is my fault.  During her formative years (birth to age 2, I suppose) I’d walk around guzzling 2-liter bottles of Pepsi Max (DON’T JUDGE) straight from the bottle.  She was, as any inquisitive toddler would be, intrigued.  When I polished off a bottle there was always an ounce or two of flat soda/saliva hybrid at the bottom — also known as “backwash.”  Like a damn fool, I let her drink said backwash at some point before her 18th birthday.  And just as a sip of wine supposedly leads straight to Bowery Bum-style alcoholism, that ounce of warm, flat, saliva-diluted soda has evolved into “Daddy, I want backwash” at every meal, in between meals… she might as well just stick a backwash IV into her veins.

Carwash: See Backwash.  A new waiter at Old John’s, unfamiliar with Weevyspeak, mistakenly called it “carwash” instead of “backwash.”  Weevy and I both thought that was hilarious, and now we call it carwash whenever we’re at Old John’s.  In fact, we’re now known as the Carwash family, and we call the waiter “Mr. Carwash.”  Weevy brings people together, she does.

White dumplings: Chicken dumplings.  Our late lamented favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, China Fun, served steamed mixed dumplings — two each of pork, beef, chicken and veggie — that were out of this world.  At some point Weevy started partaking with me and the missus, but she only liked the chicken dumplings.  The veggies had green skin, the rest were white.  How we figured out “white” only meant chicken is lost in the mists of time.  To this day, they’re still her favorite dumplings, so we trek to the remaining China Fun on the East Side for them occasionally.

Cereal Crunch: Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.  She started calling it that when she was too young to say “cinnamon toast.”  Not the most thrilling story in the world, but still cute, so don’t judge.

Duck bread and blue drink: When Weevy was about two, I started taking her to the little pond in Central Park where people sail toy boats — and where ducks congregate in warm weather months.  I think we’re not supposed to feed them, but that never stopped all the folks who bring bread or crackers or what-have-you for them.  They’ve got to be the best fed ducks in New York.  There’s a little cafe by the pond where you can buy mediocre meals or pre-packaged snacks, so we’d get a piece of pound cake and feed it to the delighted and cholesterol-laden ducks.  One day Weevy asked to try a bit of the pound cake, which I’d told her was bread, and found that it was surprisingly sweet and cake-like and delicious compared to all the bread she’d eaten before.  Thereafter, the ducks got a lot less of the “duck bread”: “Sorry ducks, duck bread for Weevy!”  As for “blue drink,” well, that’s blue Gatorade.  I find it kinda rancid myself but Weevy loves it.  One of her favorite breakfasts, which we let her have far too often, is duck bread and blue drink.  Nutritional value, close to zero.  Probably negative, in fact.  But it gets some food into her notoriously fussy craw, and it’s easy besides.  A perfect parent I ain’t.

Mommy Daddy bacon: Morningstar Veggie Strips.  I eat veggie bacon because it’s easy to prepare, tastes like bacon and is relatively healthy and low-calorie, even if it’s the texture of cardboard.  (My wife doesn’t like bacon, which is one of the reasons I married her — more bacon for me.)  We started giving it to Weevy instead of the real thing because we rarely had actual bacon in the house, and besides, it’s healthier.  She likes it, although she prefers “Grandpa bacon,” which she gets whenever she visits my in-laws on Long Island.  Grandpa also makes “grandpa eggs,” which are scrambled eggs with a lot of butter and a little milk added.  Delicious.

Red pasta: This refers to one very specific type of pasta — penne with chipotle cream sauce from Citrus, which has tragically just closed.  It can be pasta, and it can have a red sauce, but unless it’s penne with chipotle cream sauce, it’s not red pasta.  Spaghetti & tomato sauce?  Not red pasta.  Linguine marinara?  Not red pasta.  Orecchiette putanesca?  Not red pasta.  You get the idea.  The irony is that the sauce is actually more orange than red, but we’re not splitting hairs here.

Poopy bun: Roast pork bun.  We get them frozen from Trader Joe’s — not the greatest char siu baoin the world, but more than passable.  Weevy decided the pork looked like “poopy,” so she would only eat the bread.  “Daddy, I want a poopy bun.  You eat the poopy, I’ll eat the bun.”  Those words will be emblazoned on my memory until my dying breath.

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Daddy Friends

My wife and I had Weevy at roughly the same time as three other couple friends had their kids, and the men in all three couples were stay-at-home dads.  I was thrilled.  Visions of martini-soaked playdates danced in my head.  I’d make the ‘tinis, we’d sit around and shoot the shit while our kids played or napped or watched TV or basically did anything that required precious little parental input.  It was going to be a breeze.  It was going to be fun.  And it was going to be our job.

I didn’t take into account the fact that I have, pretty much since high school, preferred the company of women to that of men. I never really considered the fact that all three of my fellow stay-at-homes lived in various far-flung reaches of Brooklyn, while I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — a subway ride that’s a minor ordeal even without a baby in tow.  I didn’t know that parenting would be a much more… hands-on job than I wanted to believe.  And I certainly didn’t think that two of my three comrade dads would bite the bullet, give up the ghost, admit defeat and send their kids to daycare while they pursued their own lives, which involved varying degrees of actual productivity.  Certainly it’s not that difficult… is it?  I have no idea.  All I know is that the thought of nannies and daycare never crossed my cranium for a second, not even during the first few months of Weevy’s existence, when parenthood occasionally drove me completely bonkers and on more than one occasion sent me scurrying out of the apartment, leaving the missus to figure out if I was truly batshit crazy or just having a bad morning.

There’s a lot being written about how hip and trendy the stay-at-home dad movement is, and how so many dads are doing it.  But truth be told, I never saw too many of my brethren at the playground or Gymboree or, later, preschool.  And even if I had, the likelihood that we would even speak to each other, let alone want to hang out voluntarily, would be slim.  I often joke: How do I know I’d get along famously with a particular dude?  When he doesn’t try to talk to me, either.  It’s just not how guys are built.  There are a handful of stay-at-home dads in Weevy’s school, one of whom looks like a perfectly nice guy, seems like a cool father, has a daughter who’s Weevy’s age, and for a long time they’d go to the same diner as me and Weevy after school.  My wife even spoke to him.  But did it ever cross my mind to even go over and say “Hey, how ya doin’?”  No.  And I’m sure it never crossed his, either.  Which is why I’m sure that, if we were kidnapped and locked in a room together for a week or something, we’d become best buddies.  But barring some pretty serious intervention, it wasn’t going to happen.

Four years and change after Weevy’s birth, I’ve made exactly one stay-at-home dad friend.  And he’s nothing like the kind of guy I’d normally be pals with.  Mr. R — not his real initial — is a tall WASP from Connecticut.  His father just happens to be a writer whom I greatly admire — his sophisticated, slightly world-weary air mixed with just enough bonhomie to not be off-putting totally dazzles and intimidates me, to the extent that I actually avoid talking to him in the few social situations where we’ve been thrown together.  This guy is the three-martini lunch made flesh — tall, erudite, wildly successful — the kind of fellow that you don’t come across too often.

Mr. R is tall like his father, but that’s where the similarities end, pretty much.  A Deadhead from adolescence who was in rehab before he was in college, he was a successful pot dealer in Colorado before the risk and the worry associated with it became too much for him.  He chucked it all, moved to New York and went to work on Wall Street, which is what he was doing when he met the woman who became Mrs. R.  Thing is, he hated the broker’s life and was looking for a way out.  When they had kids, the opportunity presented itself.

He’s now the stay-at-home dad, a job which sometimes seems to play second fiddle to his true passion — taping live concerts and uploading them online.  He doesn’t really care who he tapes — if they had hits in the ’70s and ’80s, he’ll go see them — as long as the sound comes out good.  Now that bootlegs are traded and downloaded for free rather than sold, there is absolutely no way for him to monetize his passion, but he treats it as seriously as if he were making six figures.

We were thrown together by chance.  His daughter was going to Weevy’s school and his wife, a much more social sort than he, decided to get in touch with some of the parents on the class list.  We just happened to live in the same building as Mr. R’s famous writer dad, so of course she got in touch with us.  Weevy and Mr. R’s daughter became fast friends, and as such required playdates.  With each other.  While our spouses were busy working.  And a playdate for the kids is a playdate for the parents, too — as I’ve learned on numerous, very awkward and trying occasions.

We’re not very much alike, Mr. R and I.  I drink whisky, he smokes weed.  I’m nuts about baseball, he’s indifferent.  I hate the Grateful Dead, he’s never even heard most of the bands I like.  I’m a gourmand, he sticks to diner food.  But Mr. R and I got along well from the start.  We’re both rather introverted — the last thing we want to do is make idle chit-chat with other parents — but once we got comfortable with each other, the banter flowed easily and comfortably.  We love to mock each other’s music tastes via text.  He loves to tell me about his taping adventures, specifically how to avoid ushers whose job it is to prevent people from recording the show, and I love to listen.  We can sit and watch TV and not say a word — in fact, I’ve fallen asleep on his couch in mid-“conversation” more than once.  Mrs. R once asked him what we talk about during the girls’ playdates, and he said, “We’re beyond having to make small talk.  We just hang out.”  And it’s true.  He’s one of the few guys I actually look forward to hanging out with.  Not that we’d necessarily get together when the kiddies aren’t playing together, but that’s because we both enjoy solitude more than the company of another dude.  Yet another reason we’re so simpatico.

How Do You Spell Yummy?

It had been a while since I’d taken Weevy to a booze tasting.  And it wasn’t for lack of trying.  I always tell publicists, hey, your event starts at 6:30, I’m on kid duty until 7:30, I’ll get down to the event at 8 — by which time the event is half over, and it doesn’t make sense for me to show up for the end of a tasting or the third course of a three-course dinner or what have you.  Let me bring Weevy with me, on the other hand, and we’ll be there for the whole shebang.  And of course I make it clear that I will NOT be feeding Weevy whatever spirits I’ll be trying that evening.  First off, I don’t want to get arrested, and secondly, the last thing she wants to do is taste alcohol.  She’s got her juice, her water, her milk, her “backwash” (which is what she calls soda, which is a story for another time).  What could she want with anything else?

But apparently there are rules about bringing underage kids to spirits events — legal bullshit and what-have-you.  Now, I understand why this might apply if Weevy were 19 or something.  But for chrissake, the girl is FOUR FUCKING YEARS OLD.  Nobody in their right mind is going to think this girl is anywhere near legal in any country on the face of the earth.  And given that alcohol tastes like, well, alcohol, she’s not exactly going to mistakenly down a Glencairn glass of cask strength bourbon instead of her sippy cup of milk.

The most annoying example of fear of lawsuits trumping common sense came a couple months back, when I was invited to an event sponsored by Snow Leopard Vodka.  This event involved seeing actual snow leopards.  At the Central Park Zoo.  To repeat — leopards at the zoo.  And it started at 6:00, early enough for Weevy to see the snow leopards and get home by bedtime, which is generally around 7:30-8:00.  I figured this had to be one of those rare kid-friendly booze events.  I mean, how could it not be?  So I emailed my usual shpiel — hey, I’m on kid duty, but if I can bring the daughter, yada yada.  I was so confident Weevy could go with me that I even told her about it.  She likes going to events with me, at least in theory, and hey, the zoo!  Snow leopards!  Best event ever!

So when the email came back saying the legal department specifically prohibited under-21s from attending, we were disappointed, to say the least.  Weevy looked at me quizzically and asked, “Why wouldn’t they let me go?”  “I don’t know, honey, I guess you have to be old enough to drink vodka.”  “But I don’t have to drink it.  I could drink water.”  So fucking true.  And while it turned out the wife was free to watch Weevy so I could go to the event by myself, I wound up canceling.  It just wouldn’t have felt right to be looking at the snow leopards without her, no matter how much vodka I’d consumed.

Fast forward to last week.  I’d been invited to the Whisky Extravaganza, sponsored by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America, which started at 6:00 and was taking place a mere two blocks from home.  I did the usual can-I-bring-my-sprog deal, but this time the answer was a resounding YES.  At last, common sense prevails!

Weevy looked stunning in her Halloween outfit, replete with orange bows and pumpkins and ghosts and polka dots and stuff, and also brought a gorgeous shiny pink handbag filled with her Disney MagiClip dolls.  Hey, she’s no dummy, she wanted something to do while Daddy was working.  We entered the restaurant and walked downstairs to find the place teeming with big, boisterous men — maybe 90% of the attendees were male.  The double-takes as I walked through the room holding the hand of a tiny girl were hilarious.  The publicist was the consummate hostess, fetching Weevy “hot-hots” (fries) and “backwash”, playing with the MagiClip dolls, while at the same time chatting me up about each of the five whiskies I was there to try.

Weevy was on her best behavior.  While the SMWSA spokesman gave a lecture on the history and how-tos of whisky distilling, she grabbed my camera and took some very artsy black-and-white pics of her dolls.  While I tasted the whiskies, she took my notebook and pen and started “taking notes” for me, mostly random scribbles and nonsensical strings of letters.  But she did take her job seriously.  As I sipped and furrowed my brow, she said, “What should I write, Daddy?”

I thought for a minute.  “Just write ‘yummy.'”

Pause.  “Daddy, how do you spell yummy?”

Did I mention I love my daughter?

I dictated it letter by letter, and sure enough, there in my notes about the Whisky Extravaganza is the following:

Y U M M

Y

She got bored and cranky after about 40 minutes, which was right about when the missus came to pick her up.  I lingered for another half hour or so.  But even though we didn’t leave together, I’d have to say that Weevy was the best plus-one ever.  I can’t wait for the next event… assuming legal departments don’t get in the way.

The Beastie Club

It’s been quite an exciting week for Weevy.  She visited her first distillery, went to a whisky event, and went apple and pumpkin picking.  Oh, and joined the Beastie Club.

Much as I would like to tell you that the Beastie Club is some kind of Beastie Boys fan organization, it’s not.  Weevy may have inherited a lot of things from her daddy (including, thankfully, my love of Chinese food), but her music taste comes straight from Mommy.  Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, that fucking “Let It Go” song from Frozen… seriously, don’t get me started.

No, Weevy joined the Beastie Club just after we’d arrived at the Hurd family farm in the Hudson Valley to do our second annual apple and pumpkin-picking trip.  We’d been there literally about five minutes and were still waiting to buy our admission tickets when Weevy let out a scream that turned the heads of everyone in the enormous tent.  She was so freaked out she couldn’t even say what was wrong for a minute or two, until we finally figured out that a bee had stung her on the hand.  Thankfully the stinger was already out, but a portion of her hand was a pretty angry red, and having been stung myself, I know how painful it must have been (Weevy also, alas, inherited her Daddy’s strong aversion to pain and general physical discomfort).

Shrieking.  Sobbing.  Whimpering.  Completely going bonkers whenever a bee was within ten feet of her (and there were a LOT of bees there).  Refusing to move unless one of us carried her.  I figured the rest of our stay would be little more than damage control.  But some particularly deft parentage saved the day.  Actually, I don’t know quite how deft it was, but this is my blog, so I’m going to give myself (and her mother, of course) full credit.  The first thing I did was tell her, “You know, bees can only sting once, and then they die.  So that bee that stung you?  He’s dead now.  And you’re going to feel all better in a little while and that bee will still be dead, so don’t worry about him stinging you again.”  She actually thought that was pretty cool, and made me explain WHY bees die after they sting.  I’ve forgotten about 99.83% of everything I ever learned in science class, but I’m glad that little nugget stuck with me.

Then she asked, “Daddy, why would a bee want to sting me?”  “Well,” I ventured, “you’re wearing a bright jacket with colored polka dots on it, so the bee might have thought you were a flower.”

“Really?  The bee thought I was a flower?”

“Sure.  And you might have startled it when it turned out you weren’t a flower and started moving.”

“But I’m not a flower!” (Laughing)

Once she laughed, I knew she was doing OK.

Later on, she was eating one of the apples she’d picked, and a bee started getting a little too close.  The shrieking started again, and I quickly grabbed her, told her to drop her apple, and ran several steps away.  “You see, Weevy, the bee doesn’t want anything to do with you, it wants your food.”

“It wants my food?”

“Sure.  These apples are delicious.  If you were a bee, wouldn’t you want a juicy apple, too?”

“Oh!  It doesn’t want to sting me, it just wants my food!”

“Right!  And you see what we did there?  The bee got close, you dropped the apple, and now the bee isn’t bothering you.”

I was on a fucking roll, people.  I could do no wrong.  I was in the zone.  I was en fuego.  And sure enough, a few minutes later…. “Mommy?  Daddy?  My hand isn’t hurting anymore!”  And that’s when I uncorked the piece de resistance.

“Congratulations, Weevy!  You are now a member of the Bee Sting Club!”

“What’s that?”

“Well, once you get stung by a bee, you become a member of the Bee Sting Club.  Mommy’s a member, I’m a member, and now you’re a member.  You did it!”

This girl had gone from being completely overwhelmed to wearing that slightly red and swollen hand like it was a badge of honor.  A club!  Mommy and Daddy are members, and now she’s a member too?  This was a great day!  She loved it.  She had to keep reasserting how cool and exclusive her club is.  “Daddy,” she repeated several times, “not everyone got stung by a bee.  Some people aren’t in the Beastie Club.” I wanted to correct her, but… no, actually I didn’t want to correct her.  I wanted to be a member of the Beastie Club too.

All we need now is membership cards.

Of Best Friends and Cuntrags

Weevy’s got a few best friends, but there’s one that seems a little best-er than the rest. Although that may just be my view, since the missus and I have become friends with her parents as well. Friend X, as I shall call her, is a few months younger than Weevy and in a whole different world temperamentally. When they first became friends, she was kind of a wide-eyed, docile sheep whom Weevy kind of bossed around because… well, because she could. But since X turned 4, she’s changed. I mean really changed. Do not give this girl her way and you’re pretty much guaranteed a ferocious meltdown that, weirdly enough, commences with her braying like a donkey or sheep or something, followed by the usual screaming and hysterics. Anything can start it, but it usually has something to do with her not getting her way about something.

Bad as X’s meltdowns are, they’re nowhere near the worst I’ve seen. The worst I’ve seen happened when we were over at her other best friend’s, who I’ll refer to as Y. Y’s mom and I were planning to take the kids to one of Weevy’s favorite restaurants for lunch. Y was happily running around the house commando, and when her mom tried to get her to put on underwear, for some reason she decided that was going to be her Waterloo, her Gettsyburg, her Vendome, her… some other place where a pitched and ultimately doomed battle would be fought. Help me out here, history buffs.

Why it was so important to Y that she go to lunch without underpants, I can’t tell you. I haven’t been four years old for a long time, and I’ve never been a girl. But complete hysteria ensued, to the point where Y could almost literally not breathe because she’d worked herself up into such a frenzy. Now, Y has been known to show a bit of a temper, especially with Weevy. The most memorable time was when she ran into her room and slammed the door, locking Weevy out. Watching Weevy on the other side of the door, begging her friend to come out, is something I’ll never forget, even though Weevy has probably long since forgotten it.

Anyway… Y’s meltdown was so intense that her mom said, “Maybe you guys oughta leave now.” I was only too simpatico, and I tried to get Weevy to leave. Only thing was, she didn’t want to. She was fascinated with the freakshow unfolding before our eyes. Plus she wanted to play with Y’s toys. So when poor beleaguered Mama Y came out of the bathroom where Y had continued her epic meltdown, she was a little more firm — not quite “Get out” but pretty close, along with this look in her eye that said, “Why the fuck are you still here?!” Sadly, we haven’t been back to Y’s since, though she and Weevy are still thick as thieves.

The weird thing is, Weevy herself never, ever melts down. Sure, she cries or she’ll whine and get frustrated. But she gets over it pretty quickly. The gear that switches from Upset to Meltdown just doesn’t seem to be operational. I have no idea if that’s just her personality or awesome parentage or what, but I’m glad that she doesn’t pull that crap.

Anyway, back to Friend X. Now, it’s not that X can’t articulate what’s making her upset. When she starts with the braying in my presence, I always ask her what’s the matter. And she tells me. And she goes back to the fucking braying. It’s very weird.

On this occasion, however, there was no braying. We were at lunch with X and her mom, and the kids were drawing with crayons on the kids’ paper placemats. X was carefully coloring within the lines, and Weevy was doing something a little more… let’s call it abstract expressionist. X looked over at it and was clearly annoyed by it — I could see her thinking, “Why doesn’t she draw in the fucking lines?” And she told Weevy as much. Well, she said something like, “I don’t like your drawing.” And Weevy, sensitive artistic lass that she is, promptly burst into tears. All three of us parents tried to explain to X that she’d really hurt Weevy’s feelings and that wasn’t a nice thing she did. X’s response was basically, “I don’t give a fuck.” Not quite in those words, but the same message. Weevy kept drawing with a long face, occasionally bursting into tears and asking us, “Why doesn’t she like my drawing?” I wanted to say, “Because she’s being a fucking asshole, that’s why,” but I wisely held my tongue. Anyway, X eventually sort of apologized, Weevy forgot about the whole thing, they made up, and life went on.

The next day I was hanging out with the missus and she said, “I’m sorry, but X was a real cuntrag to Weevy.” Now, as the stay-at-home dad, I see X a lot more than the missus does. And I’ll admit that, while in general she’s a sweet kid, she can be pretty bratty when she wants to be. But calling a 4 year old a cuntrag… that went a little over the top even for a certified sprog-hater like myself.

I still think it’s cool she said it, though.

To Bake Or Not To Bake

Weevy is quite the gourmand. Take this recent exchange with our new across-the-hall neighbors, who we bumped into in the hallway:

Weevy: Where are you going?
Neighbor: We’re going to go get some dinner.
Weevy: There are a lot of excellent restaurants in this neighborhood.
Neighbor: (Stifling laughter) Oh, really! What’s your favorite?
Weevy: (without skipping a beat) Red Farm (a fairly hip and pricey place). It’s a Chinese restaurant.

To explain just how fantastic I think this is, let me explain a little something. Many years ago, long before I ever gave the slightest thought to actually having a child, I was having lunch at Nobu, the swank De Niro-owned eatery in Tribeca. There I saw a mother feeding chicken teriyaki to her toddler-aged daughter, and they both seemed to be having a grand old time. “Man oh man,” I thought, “if parenthood is like that, hell, count me in.”

And lo and behold, it really is like that. Red Farm twice a week. Seared scallops at Cafe Tallulah. Pancakes with lots of powdered sugar at the Utopia Diner. Cupcakes at Magnolia. Mac and cheese at Old John’s. We’re regulars at all these places, beloved and welcome with open arms by owners and waiters alike, on a first-name basis with way too many of these people… when it comes to restaurants, at least, Weevy is the mayor of the Upper West Side.

The thing is, it’s fucking EXPENSIVE. It’s rare that a trip to Red Farm for plain lo mein and a couple of appetizers for Daddy doesn’t hit $60. Two orders of seared scallops and “hot-hots” (French fries, it’s a long story) cost $36, and that’s without me eating a thing. And I must confess that it’s not the greatest thing in the world for my now-bulging gut. Weevy likes to eat dinner at 5:00 or so. By the time the missus is home from work and ready to eat, it’s often about 9:00, and… I can’t let her eat alone, now can I.

But hey, what could I do? Weevy likes to eat out, I like to eat out… there’s no other option.

Or is there?

Yesterday we were over at her friend R’s for a playdate. R’s mom is fascinating — she has no interests, no hobbies, doesn’t seem to particularly like doing anything, including parenting. But one thing she knows how to do is keep R entertained. And one way she often does it is by baking. Yesterday she invited me and Weevy to join them in making some blueberry muffins. Now, Weevy is a freak in that she doesn’t like bread products. At all. Sure, she eats cupcakes. But she eats the frosting and the frosting only. The cake she leaves for Daddy. No bread, no muffins, not even cookies for the most part. Like I said, the girl’s a freak.

But she was really into making the muffins. I mean REALLY into it. And lo and behold, when it came time to actually eat the finished product, in her words, “I put it in my mouth and I ate it!” In fact she ate about three or four of them. Or parts of three or four, after which she gave me the remnants to down myself. Why, I don’t know. But they WERE tasty.

Which is causing new fantasies to sprout in my head. Fantasies of cooking dinner with Weevy every day. Saving money, eating healthy, doing something besides acting out Frozen, start to finish, with me playing about 14 different characters and her standing there saying, “Daddy, what do I say now?” I think this particular fantasy may not last past lunchtime, when it’s time to have lunch at one of our regular haunts. But I’m not ruling it out.

Whiskey and Bubble Paper

Not that she needs to be, but the missus is a bit of a buy-your-child’s-affection kind of gal. I’m not exactly Mister Deprivation or anything (full disclosure: I bought her a toy, a puzzle and a book yesterday), but Wifey showers Weevy with gifts left, right and center, not to mention up, down and sideways. So it’s no surprise that when packages arrive in the mail, Weevy expects them to be for her.

Only thing is, Daddy gets a lot of “presents” too — by which I mean bottles of booze from various PR firms for my review and general enjoyment. Most days, when we get the mail together, the conversation goes like this:

“Ooh, Daddy, is it a present?”

“I think it is.”

“A present for me?”

“No, sorry sweetie, it’s a present for me.”

“What is it?”

“Looks like a bottle of whiskey.” (“Whiskey” means basically any kind of booze. I will start distinguishing the specific types of spirits with the young’un soon, but not yet.)

We get upstairs, open up the haul:

“Is there anything in there for me?”

Usually, I say “No, just a bottle of whiskey, sorry.” But she always looks so crestfallen when I tell her that. I WANTED her to share in the bounty. And the other day, I figured out how. It came to me in a moment of blind inspiration, as so many of the best ideas do. I was pulling out a bottle of Booker’s Bourbon (thank you, everyone at Jim Beam) from the box which had been liberally wrapped in a large amount of bubble paper — the kind that you can pop with your fingers. The kind of thing kids love. The kind of thing my kid in particular loves.

“Well look at this, Weevy! There’s a bottle of whiskey for me and a whole bunch of bubble paper for you!” And I handed her a sheet. Her face lit up like it was Christmas morning. “OH WOW! Bubble paper!” And she let out a shriek of sheer glee like it was the greatest gift she’d ever gotten.

But I didn’t stop there, oh no. Inside was a note from the publicist who’d sent me the bottle, telling me to enjoy it, etc. I said, “Look, Weevy, there’s a note in the package too!” It says, ‘Dear Tony, I hope you enjoy the whiskey… and tell Weevy to enjoy the bubble paper.'” Hey, I figure I can only do this until she starts reading, which won’t be too long.

Well, now she was REALLY impressed. “They said for Weevy to enjoy the bubble paper! YAY! Bubble paper!”

Now I try to find a “present” for her in every boozy package I get. Wild Turkey Spiced Bourbon included a faux “treasure map which says “No Pirates Allowed.” She looks at it incessantly, and it cracks me up when she says, “It says ‘No Pirates Allowed, Wild Turkey Spice.’ Why are there no pirates allowed?” She has literally said this to me 20 times in a row.

And yesterday, we got a big box of Scotch in a Halloween-themed wooden box decorated with skeletons, witches, monsters, etc, complete with a card (which I told her was for her), featuring a poem all about the whisky. For reasons I can’t quite explain, she loved it and made me read it to her for about a half hour straight.

Hey, whatever makes the girl happy.

Welcome to the Rest of Your Life

It’s been a while since I posted anything here — just about four months, to be precise, which is about 10% of Weevy’s life. Not good. So without further ado….

Weevy is now an adorable, talkative, relentlessly imaginative three-year-old, in nursery school five days a week, three hours a day, with friends I don’t know and knowledge of things her mom and I didn’t teach her (she told the missus the other day that baby bats were called pups — neither of us knew that).

So at Weevy’s school, they give each kid in the class a different job every week, complete with a little “My Job Is…” sign that they wear around their necks on Mondays, I guess so the parents can figure out what their kids are doing. God knows that whenever I ask Weevy how school was, it goes something like this:

“How was school today?”

“Good.”

“What did you do?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, did you read any books?”

“Yes.”

“Which ones?”

“I don’t know.”

And so on.

Last week, Weevy’s job was “Line Leader.” Quite an impressive title, until you realize that it basically means she stands in front of the line when they have to go to the gym or down the stairs or whatever. Not the most demanding of jobs, but hey, it includes the word “leader,” so I’m impressed.

Last Wednesday, she came out (our reunions are always joyous — she’s still too young to be sullen, thank goodness) and I asked the usual question: “How was school today?” Instead of the usual response, I got this:

“Um, good. They took my job away.”

What the fuck?! I tried to remain calm.

“You lost your job? What happened?”

“I don’t know.” (Pause) “I was crying.”

I never quite got the full, unadulterated story, but it seems she was crying either because she didn’t want to go to the potty or she DID want to go to the potty when she was supposed to be leading the line. I couldn’t figure it out, and I suppose the gory details will be lost in the mists of time.

“Well, did they give you another job?”

“No.” Her voice brightened. “But I’ll get my job back soon.”

Bless your innocent three-year-old heart. And welcome to the next, oh, 70 years of your life. Getting shit-canned at age three is a harsh entree to the realities of modern existence — an existence I’ve worked hard all my life, with my unorthodox series of jobs, to avoid. And now Weevy had been blindsided by the whole mishegoss. My heart bled for her, it really did, even if she didn’t seem to give much of a crap about it. Good for her, I say.

I’m happy to report that she did get her job back the next day. And she’s not even going to sue her teacher for furloughing her.

“I’m Having Such A Good Time”

If you’re an adult and you say hello to Weevy, she automatically thinks you want to take her toys, and greets you with a petulant “No!” and a pout and glare.  I have no idea why she believes this.  But it’s the case, and why anyone in our building still says hello to her is beyond me.

Occasionally, however, she will glom onto an adult for, as far as I can tell, no reason.  This happened last week with my new friend F., who stopped by the playground to pick up something for me and to meet Weevy for the first time.  She was suspicious at first, but within seconds, they were happily chatting.  Their meeting of the minds only lasted about 15 minutes, but it was enough for Weevy to pout when F. had to say goodbye; she asked for hours afterward, “Where’s F?”  “I want F. to come to my home.”  “I want to play with F.”

Well, F. stopped by the other day.  The night before, she gave me gifts to give to Weevy — a big bag of gummy bears and a little Hello Kitty battery-powered fan.  Clearly, F. knows how to win a kid’s heart.  Weevy wasn’t in the greatest mood, but within ten minutes or so, this conversation happened.

“You’re F.?”

“Yep, I am.”

“Did you buy me this?” (Points to a Lalaloopsy bus that F. did not buy her)

“No, I think maybe Mommy and Daddy bought that for you.”  I interject: “Mommy’s friend M. bought you that, remember?”

“Yeah.” (To F.) “Mommy’s friend M. bought me that.”

“I bought you the gummy bears and the fan though.”

“Yes, you bought me those.”

(Pause)

“I’m having such a good time.”

And then came out the big guns, her most precious possessions in the world.

“F., these are my Lalaloopsy dolls.  They have names.”  And she went one by one through the entire roster, which by now must be about 438 characters.  I don’t think she let F. touch them, but just to initiate her into the world of Lalaloopsy land… well, that’s huge.  Weevy showed F. everything she could think of:  “F., this is my juice cup.”  That sort of thing.  And to top it all off, she pooped.  In front of a veritable stranger.  A big, nasty, smelly, messy poop that took forever to come out.  That is the ultimate sign of friendship and trust in Weevyworld, and to think F. accomplished it in a week and two meetings.

Or maybe V. just really needed to poop.  But I think it was something more than that, too.

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday

For the last few months, whenever Weevy has mentioned something in the past, she says it happened “yesterday,”  pronounced “Yeh-stoo-day.” The thing is, “yesterday” could mean yesterday, or it could mean six months ago.  It could even mean earlier today — once she’s taken her midday nap, anything that happened in the morning also becomes “yesterday” too.

To know what the hell she’s talking about when she refers to yesterday, you have to have a pretty sharp and quick memory.  Take a question as innocuous as “Did we do that at the playground yesterday?”  First, I think, did we go to the playground yesterday?  And if the answer is yes, did we do the thing she’s talking about?  Unfortunately, the answer to one or both of those parts is usually “no.”  Weevy may be young, but her memory for random, not-particularly-memorable events is quite sharp.  So the key is to frantically rifle through the file cabinets of my own memory while asking her leading questions — “Do you remember where we were at the playground when we did it?  What were you wearing?”  Anything at all to speed up recall a little bit.

There are some other events that legitimately qualify as milestones, notably the time she puked all over her bed and herself due to a stomach virus.  That was last fall, but she still says, on occasion, “I yakked yesterday.”

But a real, serious milestone involves her friend B., who moved with her family to California a couple of months ago.  B. was Weevy’s first real friend, and despite B’s being a selfish, tantrum-throwing, toy-grabbing pain in the ass, she could also be a sweet girl, and Weevy was nuts about her regardless, even if their playdates as often as not ended with one or both of them bawling.

When it came time for them to see each other for the last time, we tried to convey the magnitude of the event to them, but neither of them was really interested in fond reminiscences and tearful farewells.  So they swung on the swings, the parents commiserated, and… that was it.  Weevy on some level knew she couldn’t see B. anymore, and she knew B. was in California, whatever that was.  They even managed to have an online play date which according to the missus went quite well.  But she’s still a little confused.  She wants to go to their house, even if they’re not there, so she can play with B’s toys.  She wants to see B’s nanny, which I actually ought to try to make happen.  She wants to know why she can’t see B.

Time and space.  Separately, they’re pretty hard to wrap one’s brain around, but collectively, they’re a real bitch.

Regardless, Weevy has a new best friend, Olivia, a very pretty half-Asian girl whom she met at Gymboree.  Their get-togethers usually seem to revolve around Olivia playing and Weevy bouncing around in her wake hollering “It’s Olivia!”  Thankfully Olivia seems to have none of B’s deficits, instead displaying a quiet, confident charm, possibly owing to the fact that she’s a year older than V.  I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship.  Or at least I hope they don’t move to California.