Monday, August 29, 2011


This is about the age my 
little angel was when
 this story happened.

This is absolutely my favorite story, and the star of this story is my daughter Patricia.  It is hard to describe young Patricia.  She was my daring one; she was continually pushing the envelope.  As a young child she was definitely a drama queen who would constantly find ways to surprise us all. 

For example, before she was two, she found out that crying was a good way to get attention (but, most kids know that).  She was an adorable little imp and would cloud up whenever the mood struck her.  Only this little charmer would add a her own little twists.  She would dash through the room and dramatically throw herself onto the couch, bed, or whatever was available.  But, even that wasn’t enough for Patty.  She would detour by a box of kleenex, avail herself of a few tissues, press them to her face (leaving plenty of peeking room), and then perform the dramatic "fling" onto a piece of furniture.

I have already written several stories about Patricia but this next one happened when she was almost three years old.  It, by far, takes the prize and I decided to post this one on her birthday.

To set the stage, it was a lovely evening in a quiet little neighborhood in Southern California.  My family and I had just sat down to dinner.  Dad (the stern but fair principal of the local Jr. High) sat at the head of the table, as usual.  Patty (the imp) was parked at the foot of the table in her high chair (minus the tray) looking like an angle.  Mom (a slightly prudish, one time escrow agent, now housewife) was sitting on the side to Dad’s left.  Gene (my earnest six year old son) was sitting on the side to Dad’s right.  I (at that time a courtroom clerk at the municipal court) was sitting by my mother and to Patty’s right.  The table was neatly set; a Norman Rockwell setting if there ever was one.  There, have the picture?

My mother was an excellent cook and we all sat there with our mouths watering at the fare she had set before us.  There we were, the typical American family of the sixties.   We were a normal (except for me as I had just gone through a divorce), very wholesome (not a fowl word could ever be heard), church going  (every Sunday like clockwork) family about to have our typical, normal, wholesome, delicious dinner.  

Without warning Patty spoke up… … …   From her beautiful, pink, bow shaped mouth came words I WILL NEVER FORGET!   This sweet little child in a sing song-ie wee voice said,

“Pass the F- - - ing peas, please.”
(Only she said the actual word.)

Dad’s fork stopped two inches short of his mouth and he froze with the dazed look of a dear caught in headlights.

Mom let out a gasp that practically sucked her napkin off the her lap and threw her right hand across her heart.

Gene, then in kindergarten, fell to the floor laughing hysterically and clutching his groin (he, apparently had already learned that word somewhere).

I sat there dumbfounded as Mom and Dad slowly turned their eyes from Patty to me.  Ok, ok, in my misspent youth I did use THAT WORD once (ok often) to drive a point home or when I was angry.  But I hadn’t used THAT WORD since my children were born.

You could have heard a pin drop if not for the gasping and giggling coming from my son on the floor.

Patty immediately formed a frown on her forehead and looked irked that no one was passing her the peas.  She opened her mouth as if to speak again and that is all it took to immediately mobilize me.  I  burst out of my temporary coma and launched myself toward her.  Scooping her up into my arms I rushed to the bathroom; Patty protesting all the way. 

As I am sure you can imagine, how hard it is to have a discussion with a three year old child about the inappropriateness of a word, and questions about where she learned THAT WORD!  “What word, Mommy?” she said.  What made it worse is that I had to use THAT WORD in order to ask her.  It was awful!  I didn’t know what to do.

Well, about thirty minutes later we returned to the table.  Gene began to giggle again, but both Mom and Dad shot him a look that clammed that kid up, fast.  We made sure that Patty had plenty of peas and potatoes and roast, and everything else we could think of so she wouldn’t need to ask for anything for the rest of the meal.

Later, I informed my parents of what I had gleaned from my little talk with Patty.  Irately, Patty had said, "Mommy,  Sammy’s brothers say that all the time."  

Now, Sammy was her little playmate from next door (who had four older brothers).  Consequently, my mother (who was the caregiver while I was at work) made sure that Patty never went to Sammy’s house ever again. (Incidentally, Sammy was the kid Patty tried to test her toy thermometer on…rectally.  See  PAPER OR PLASTIC listed below).

In the first part of the story I told you about Patty’s attention seeking stunts.  Well, I tried everything to get rid of THAT WORD, but once Patty found out about all the attention she received (using THAT WORD) she used it more often.  

Consequently she was kicked out of two preschools for what they called, earthy language.  They always gave me the fish eye when I came in to pick her up.  Then she entered Kindergarten.  Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to my trips to to the principal's office.   The first day I thought it fair to warn the teacher of "THE PROBLEM".  I don’t know what that teacher did (I was afraid to ask because if she told me I may have to report her for child abuse) but before the first quarter was over THAT WORD was gone.

During her college years THAT WORD showed up again and enjoyed a long run.  I think it still OCCASIONALLY pops out.  It's amazing how THAT WORD doesn't have the same ring to it once a person has children.

Happy Birthday, darling.  With you around there was NEVER a dull second.  You kept me on my toes and gave me reason to laugh frequently.  I treasure each and every memory of you, my dear daughter.  I would not change even one little moment of my life with you.  

I am so very proud of the woman you have become.  You are a loving and devoted wife and mother who gives it all when it comes to your family.  You are an attentive and supportive daughter and have acted as my cheerleader on several occasions.  You make this world a better place and I love you so very much.  You are so F---ing awesome! 

And here's my beautiful angel now:

Watching her children at the bow of the boat...

While in Ocean City, NJ 2011


 kt 8/2/11