Before Penelope entered our lives, Bernadette and I usually conducted family meetings in our car. Whenever we had something important to discuss we’d always wait until we had to drive somewhere. In hindsight, I consider it a testament to our relationship that neither of us drove off a cliff or into a tree.
This all changed once Penelope came along. Now, our family car conversations are generally fast, silly and nonsensical. Like a bunch of marbles in a roaring blender that’s missing its lid, I’m never quite sure what’s going to come out. Or, perhaps I should say, I’m never quite sure what’s going to come out of Penelope’s mouth.
Recently, Bernadette, Penelope and I spent the day in Chinatown (or what Penelope now calls “The Homeland”). The hourlong trip took twice as long thanks to road construction on the NJ Turnpike.
B = Bern
D = Dave
P = Pelli P (singing): Muffin Man, the Muffin Man…
D: I better tell you now. Penelope knows three songs. The Alphabet Song. The Muffin Man. And Before They Make Me Run by the Rolling Stones.
B: Huh? What?
D (mumbles): My bad. The song was in my head the other day, and I couldn’t stop singing it. I guess Penelope picked it up.
B: What’s it about?
D: Oh, I don’t know…..I think….umm….Keith Richards wrote it after he got arrested for possession of heroin in Canada.
P (singing): …Before they make me runnnnnnn.”
B: You’re an idiot. (Pause) The bathrooms in Chinatown make me a little nervous. I swear last time I was in a bathroom there the floor was moving.
P (singing): Happy Birthday Chinese!
D: OK, she knows four songs.
D: Because that’s the number of songs you know.
B: Because you haven’t learned others yet. You will…
D: You know, I’m going to find whoever came up with the question “Why” and I’m going to beat him senseless. Then when he asks me why I’m doing it, I’m going to beat him all over again.
D: You’re not asking me a question that begins with why?
D (sighs): Nevermind.
P: Papa, will there be boys in New York City?
Aside: What did I say about driving off a cliff or into a tree?
B: She plays with boys a lot more than girls at school. The other day I asked her who she played with and she named every boy in class. Aren’t there any girls in your class?
P: Yea, but . . . . (Indecipherable. However, I think she said they were boring.)
D: Remind me tomorrow that I have to go out and buy a gun, sit on the front porch and practice cleaning it. Maybe we should stop potty training her.
Sometimes in all the craziness, it’s easy to forget that it’s not just about getting somewhere, but enjoying the journey along the way. I think that’s one of the great blessings that Penelope has brought into my life.