Secret daddy words
“Dad, you look nervous,” my nine-year-old observed. “Do you want me to get Mom to help?”
“No sweetie,” I replied. “I’m perfectly capable of cooking breakfast.”
“There’s smoke coming from the French toast,” Ricki continued. “It doesn’t smoke when Mom does it.”
“That’s because Mom is focused on the toast and not on cleaning up Josie’s mess.”
My seven-year-old had fumbled a glass of orange juice. I was trying to clean up broken glass and sticky OJ before the toast burned, and still surprise my wife with breakfast in bed.
Then the fire alarm went off.
“Dad!” Josie yelled. “That never happens when Mom cooks breakfast!”
“I think we should get Mom to help!” Ricki added.
I ripped the batteries out of the smoke detector.
“Problem solved,” I said and took a bow.
“The toast is still burning,” Ricki noted. “And we’re not going to surprise Mom now.”
“We might,” I mused. “Mom probably didn’t notice the alarm. She’s not very observant.”
“She’s standing behind you.”
Allie hugged me. My wife gives a lot of points for trying. I earn way more Husband Rewards points for trying than for succeeding.
“Who redecorated the floor?” Allie smiled, while taking the toast off the burner.
“Josie got herself a glass of — AAAAAAAGH!”
A glass shard ripped deep into the arch of my foot. My first instinct saved me: don’t swear in front of the kids when my wife is around.
“Mommy!” Josie called. “Did you… to Daddy?”
Josie cupped her crotch and bent over.
“What?” Allie asked.
“Dad only makes that sound,” Ricki explained, “when somebody hits him in the … you know.”
“Balls!” Josie knew. “Or nuts!”
My kids’ flailing heads, knees, feet, elbows and toys have a 98% chance of smashing my testicles, and a 2% chance of hitting any other part of my body. My gonads pull in all forms abuse with the attractive force of a black hole. Apparently I announce each cosmic collision with a stifled AAAAAAAGH.
“I stepped on a piece of glass,” I grimaced.
“Really?” Josie was confused. “But you didn’t say the shit word. You made the balls noise.”
“WHAT?” Allie shrieked.
“He doesn’t usually say shit in front of us.” Ricki rushed to my defense. “Only when he’s by himself and thinks we’re not listening.”
“Really …” Allie considered how many Husband Rewards points this would cost me.
“Or when he’s really hurt,” Ricki continued. “Or when grandma and grandpa phone him early in the morning. Or when — ”
“Thanks, Ricki,” I interrupted before losing a year’s worth of Husband Rewards points. “Mom understands.”
“Yes,” Allie glared at me. “I think I do.”
“It’s okay, Mom. Don’t be mad.” Ricki tried for one more save. “It’s not like he said the F-word.”
That completely erased my Husband Rewards account. I was now accumulating Daddy Deep Shit demerits. Unlike Husband Rewards points, Daddy Deep Shit demerits cannot be redeemed for sex.
“What’s the F-word?” my seven-year-old asked.
“Never mind!” Allie snapped. “That is not a word you need to know now!”
“It’s what Mom said yesterday,” Ricki whispered loudly enough for us all to hear. “When she backed into the pole and knocked the mirror off the minivan.”
“Does it sound like duck?” Josie asked. “Is it what those big guys yelled at the hockey game?”
“Yes,” Ricki said solemnly. “Don’t say it. It’s worse than shit.”
“Oh …” Josie pondered this.
“Oh …” I pondered it too.
I was unaware of Allie’s damage to the minivan. Or her terrible language around the children. Shock and guilt washed over my wife’s face. It replaced the shock and anger that had been there ten seconds ago. I called this improvement.
“So … You knocked the mirror off?” I asked casually.
“It was an accident. I had it fixed the same day.”
“And you thought that was a good time to teach our daughters a new word?”
“You will not lecture me about swearing around the children,” Allie growled.
“How about this,” I suggested. “Neither one of us lectures the other about language in front of the kids, and we both try to do better — ”
“Mom’s already a lot better than you.”
“Thanks Ricki.” I said sourly, then continued with my wife: “And I’ll get the glass out of my foot and the orange juice and blood off the floor. Then I’ll cook you French toast that isn’t charcoal. Then you’ll enjoy breakfast in bed, and we’ll forget these last five minutes.”
And maybe I’ll get some Husband Rewards points back.
“And we won’t say that word,” Ricki chimed in.
“The f-word?” Josie asked.
“No, the other one.”
“When Dad gets hurt in the nuts? That’s not a word. It’s just a funny sound.”
“The bad word you can’t say is shit.”
“Oh … I thought we learned a new one.”
“Now stop talking about it,” Ricki ordered. “Mom and Dad are trying to forget that we know those words.”
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