I know that you’ve been dying to hear about Julia’s piano class. Day after day, you come here wondering, “How’s she doing in that there piano class?” And so, I’m going to tell you.

She’s doing pretty great. Can she play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?” Well, no. Not, yet. But she can Mississippi Hot Dog the crap out of those keys. And, she can identify each key by it’s letter name. If you ask her to play D, that brainy little Beethoven will pluck the ivory nestled between two lovely black keys. And, she’s beginning to learn which line and space on the musical staff represent which note, which means she not far from reading music.

And she’s three.

I’m rather proud of her. You can probably tell from all the bragging.

Still, she’s no piano-learning robot. Lately, she’s been having fun playing with her teacher a little bit. He’ll ask her to play a note or point out it’s location on the musical staff and she’ll grin an evil grin and get it wrong. ON PURPOSE. (This is something about her I completely do not understand. If I know something, I want the world to know that I know. Not Julia.) Meanwhile, I’m sitting there in the corner with my little notebook in my lap, gnawing my fingernails because I KNOW SHE KNOWS THE RIGHT ANSWER.

Mr. Palmer and I discussed it after class recently and this week, he tried a new approach.

Today, he sat her down at the piano and showed her a glossy stack of laminated letters and said, “Look at my letters Julia. Aren’t they nice? Would you like to have them?”

Of course, she said yes.

Mr. Palmer said, “Then, you’ve got to earn them. I’ll show you a letter and if you can play it correctly, you can have that letter. Let’s see if you can get them all.”

Her eyes lit up and you could tell that she was on board. I got excited, too. Because that’s the part of Julia I understand so well. Probably because she got it from me – the ultra-competitive “Are you throwing down a challenge? Well, bring it on, sucka!” part.

And so it began. He held up a D. She said, “D” out loud and “Okay, okay,” to herself and she played D. He held up a B. She said, “B” out loud and “Okay, okay,” to herself and she played B. He held up an F. She said, “F” out loud and “Okay, okay,” to herself and she played F. And so on until she had all the letters. At which point she turned around and held the letters out to me and said, “IN YOUR FACE, MAMA!”

And I said, “THAT’S MY BABY!”

Our playgroup visited the Fire Department today.

Julia visits the Fire Department

Julia thought it was awesome.

The firemen were fabulous with the kids. They talked with them about calling 911 when there’s an emergency, getting out of the house if there’s a fire and staying low and near a window if they can’t get out.

One of the firemen dressed up in his full gear to show them how a fireman would look if he came to their house to fight a fire and reminded them that they should never hide from a fireman.

They showed the kids the fire pole. One of them slid down it. Julia wanted to slide down it, too. I told her it was only for fireman. She said, “I am a fireman.” I told her she needed some training first.

The fireman also showed the kids the ambulance and their scuba gear for diving.

Finally, they closed down the street and brought out the ladder truck.

The Ladder Truck in New Philadelphia

And each kid had a turn to get inside and turn the wheel.

Julia in the Ladder Truck

Then, it was off to the park for some playtime and a snack.

Julia at Tuscora Park

In Julia’s words, “Playgroup was pretty cool today.”

Julia had stripped off all her clothes and was wearing our crinkly cat tunnel as a dress. You know, for fun.

Dave caught a glimpse of her and said, “What are you doing? Are you naked under there? You better put some clothes on!”

Julia laughed, “It’s just for fun, Daddy. Geez!” Then she took off down the hall.

Dave shook his head, “It frightens me to think of her going off to college. Can you imagine what she’ll be like?”

Julia returned, booping and beeping and telling us she was a robot.

Dave took a breath to say something, probably very fatherly and important, and a fly flew into his mouth and he coughed.

And I threw up.

The Unlikeable

by Leslie

Have you ever met someone that just rubbed you the wrong way from the moment you first saw them?

It doesn’t often happen to me. I like most people I meet. But yesterday, it happened. I spotted a person I didn’t like from the first glance.

We were at the first of two parties Julia was scheduled to attend when I laid my eyes on a very annoying mother and her child. I was standing, with my mother, at an inflatable bounce house watching Julia as she jumped inside. The very annoying mother approached with her daughter, who promptly removed her shoes and hopped in the bounce house to join the fun. The bounce house was pretty full and the kids were rowdy, as kids at a party can often be. They were having a great time. The very annoying mother began to complain about the bounce house being full to whoever was in earshot. She stated that her child had just arrived and that those who had been there longer should get out to make room.

As if on cue, Julia decided the merry-go-round nearby looked like even more fun and slid out of the bounce house. I quickly grabbed her as she was about to run off without shoes, wrestled them onto her and let her loose to cavort. She rode the merry-go-round until the bounce house looked good again, and then she ran back to it. Again, I had to grab her before she got in with her shoes on, slipped them off and let her go forth to bounce.

The very annoying mother’s daughter was still in there, although the very annoying mother was not within sight.

The bounce house was still pretty active and the kids were still rowdy. And then, we heard a cry. My mom said, “Uh oh, someone’s hurt.”

It was the annoying mother’s daughter.

The annoying mother arrived on the scene and pulled her daughter from the bounce house. There were no obvious injuries, but the daughter was visibly upset. She wailed. She sobbed. She hyperventilated. The annoying mother gave each bystander a hard stare. Then, she went away and was completely forgotten.

Until she arrived at the second party of the day.

The hostess introduced us and the annoying mother said, “We’ve already met, kind of.”

I said, “Yes! You were at the ballet party earlier.”

Then she said, “Yeah. Your daughter hit mine in the head.”

My immediate reaction was, “What the fuck are you talking about, bitch?” But I didn’t say that out loud. Instead I said, “Really? Hmmm? I was with my daughter through the whole party and I didn’t catch that. I was there, though, when your daughter got hurt in the bounce house.”

I’m not even sure what her reply was. I was too busy putting an evil voodoo curse on her when she walked away.

How dare she suggest my daughter had hurt hers? She wasn’t there when it happened. How did she come to that conclusion? And how dare she make a judgement about my parenting like that? As if I would allow my daughter to hurt someone, even by accident, without making her apologize?

A little later, I took Julia near the bonfire to make her own candle. We had just arrived at the candle-making table with one of Julia’s friends and his mom when the very annoying mom approached and began barking out orders, “No, no, no. You don’t do it like that. You’ve got to do this first.”

After a few seconds, I pulled Julia away from the table and said to the very annoying mother, “Oh,we must be in your way. We’ll stand back while you do what you need to do to finish. That’ll give me a minute to read the directions.”

Once she was out of the way, we did our thing. Then, I placed our foil tin of wax shavings near the fire to melt. Julia was sitting on a bale of hay with her friend when the very annoying mother’s daughter approached her. She showed Julia her candle. Julia began to stick her finger in it and I protested, “Julia! Do not put your finger in there, honey.”

The very annoying mother hissed, “It’s not hot. My daughter wouldn’t have it if it was hot.”

I said, “I just don’t want my daughter to ruin your daughter’s candle.”

And then I fought the urge to jam a hot dog stick through her eye.

Eventually, the presence of the very annoying mother was too much to bear. I ushered Julia on to another activity and opted to return for the candle later. But the very annoying mother was just a few steps behind us.

A short time later, we found ourselves at the swing set. Julia was swinging next to one of her playgroup friends when the very annoying mother and her daughter arrived. The daughter wanted the swing Julia was swinging on. The very annoying mother advised her daughter that she would just have to wait on Julia. The daughter proceeded to whine and cry and cry and whine while her mother kindly reminded her that Julia was on the swing and therefore in control of just how long she would have to wait when my head was about to explode. I stopped Julia’s swing and asked her to please play with something else, which she happily did.

She walked two whole steps and got on THE OTHER SWING.

And that was the last we saw of the very annoying mother, who will now be added to my list of people to give a wedgie. Hers will be atomic.

It’s really late and I’m super-tired. But I’m not too tired to bring you a haiku, my friends.

And so,

two outdoor parties
in cold and rain, the sickness:

Yeah, we party like penguins out here in the sticks.

I’ll write more when I unfreeze.

That’d be tomorrow.

Come visit me tomorrow. tomorrow. tomorrow.

(That was me, doing an echo. echo. echo.)

Okay, I’m going to bed.

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