Good morning. It is, in fact, 6:23 in the morning as I write this. We’ve changed our mornings around as of late, trying to save on the cost of before-school care, which makes for more time before perp-walking Oona off to school. I could sleep in. Especially since I usually make lunches the night before, I could sleep in. But I’ve been getting up at 5:30 for what seems like forever now, and the jello wiring of my brain seems to have set that way. Besides, I only ever get things done in the morning. By late afternoon all hope is lost.
Last week’s Tinyletter was received with some staticky kind of complaining along the lines of not-enough-Oona. FINE. This week you get the full dose. I hope your hair doesn’t fall out.
Driving Oona to school, she asks me what time we’re going to get there.
We’ll get there in plenty of time, I say. Just before the supervisors come out onto the schoolyard. And the bell doesn’t ring for another ten minutes after that.
You don’t know what time the bell rings, she says.
I do know what time the bell rings.
No, you don’t. How do you know that?
Because I looked it up. Because that’s my job. Because I looked it up on the school website and I read it with my brain and my eyes. You’d be surprised what I can see with my eyes.
No, I wouldn’t, she says.
At the end of the day, coming home from school, we go through the drive-thru, then sit in the parking lot and eat while everything’s still hot. This is an anomaly, a treat, something that her and I do a few times a year, something that her mom would find very gauche. We listen to music or Jesus radio or a podcast about science and enjoy the hundreds of calories flooding into our digestive systems. On some level, I guess, it’s almost meditative. At least until Oona insists on telling me a riddle that “her friend” has made up. Do you want to hear it, daddy? Not really, but my mouth is full. So the riddle goes like this:
Three brothers live in a house. One night they go to bed (I don’t know what they do other nights) and there is a fire on the roof. Everybody dies. Who set the fire?
Give up? I don’t blame you, this is a tough one. With the no-clues aspect. And the self-annihilation business. The answer:
It was the first brother. After supper he went out to the fireworks store while the other brothers had a bath together(!). Then everybody went to bed. The first brother was the only one who had time to start the fire before he went to bed.
Feel stupid? You should.
Because I am still chewing, I roll my eyes at the mentalist in the backseat.
Why are you looking up like that? Oona asks. Are you trying to look up through your skull at the bald spot on the back of your head?
Afterwards we go get groceries. The complaining about this is off the hook.
But most of these groceries are for you, I remind her. It’s a constant struggle to keep your lunch stocked with things that you’ll actually eat.
You should go do it on your own, you’re wasting my time, she says.
We are in the snack aisle. Okay look, I say. I’ll let you pick what kind of cereal bars are going into your lunch.
Strawberry, she says. I only want strawberry.
Strawberry is fine. We’ll get that. But why don’t we try a new flavour, too? How about apple-cinnamon?
No, I only want strawberry.
Fine, I say, putting both in the cart.
Hey! You took apple-cinnamon, too!
No, I didn’t, I lie. That second one is labelled wrong.
You’re labelled wrong! Your label says ‘Nice Guy’ but that’s wrong!
Maybe, I say.
Going through the check-out with an eight year-old is always a bullshit bingo so I usually send her off to the card aisle to “go look for a card for grandma or Uncle Jaime”, and once there she immediately gets bogged down with some nonsense that plays music when you open it and is appropriate for no one, and I get to complete my grocery purchase in peace. This time I send her off to get a card for grandpa, who is sick with gallstones.
Amazingly, she actually returns with a card. Believe in yourself, it reads. You can do anything.
Your grandpa is one thousand years old, I tell her. It’s a little late in the game for the whole ‘believe in yourself’ business. He’s not reading The Secret. His only secret is a shortcut to the bathroom.
What’s The Secret? she asks.
It’s a book about believing you can get whatever you want just by wishing for it. It’s for people who believe in angels and magic and special destiny. The only thing you can attract with your thoughts is a headache. You can’t will luck to fall from the sky.
What if you think bad thoughts? she asks.
According to the book, then bad things happen. If you’re mean or you’re negative about life, then bad things happen to you. But that’s not true.
You’re right, that’s can’t be true. If that was true, you would have been dead a long time ago, she says.
We get a weekend ice storm. People in Kingston are very wary of ice storms, I find. Whereas in Saskatchewan, where I grew up, we’re more wary of sliding into a ditch and freezing to death beside some forgotten highway.
The following Monday, Oona and I are sitting in the car, watching the rain and the empty schoolyard and waiting for the right time to go in.
What time is it? she asks.
The clock is right on the dashboard, I say. Read it yourself.
You read it, she says. When does the bell ring?
I thought you said I didn’t know when the bell rang. I thought you knew better.
Just tell me, dad. You’re wasting my time. You’re always wasting my time.
Okay, it’s 6:57 and I need to keep moving. There is snow in the air but the sun is somewhere around, and maybe by the end of the week this little re-visit by winter will have faded away.
Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.
p.s. Jane, that app is called WeCroak, and I highly recommend it.