Pleasant Thought for the Holidays #3 (Christmas Eve Edition)
Digression on Night at the Museum. Ben Stiller plays the lead, and Robin Williams has a significant part... and it is still funny. Keys to this success: First, Stiller plays an average guy, instead of his usual range of doofus to asshole. Second, Williams is bound by an actual historical figure (Teddy Roosevelt), and thus must restrain himself. Also good to see Mickey Rooney getting work. Digression ends.
So Saturday, I get up early to take the family to Petunia's last gymnastics class of the season. We have not been allowed to watch for the past couple months, as parents can be a distraction when a child is trying to walk a balance beam or perform a tumble. This being the last class, however, we are invited to come and see how much progress has been made. My little darling does very well, and I am excited to enroll her in January so she can keep advancing those gross motor skills.
After gymnastics, we head straight downtown to find a good parking space on the Mall, right by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, where I spend the next couple hours chasing Petunia from room to room. She is bent on finding as many items in the museum that match things in the movie. We counted six: a lion, a Caputian monkey, cave-men mannequins, a security guard, T. Rex bones, and a moai statue from Easter Island. We grabbed lunch in the surprisingly good (although pricey) café in the bottom floor of the museum, then headed out.
Walking east a couple blocks, we came to the Sculpture Garden, whose central fountain has been turned into an outdoor ice-skating rink. The weather is clear and unseasonably warm, and the ice is the tiniest bit slushy, but Merseydotes and Petunia strap on skates and hit the ice. Mersey struggles keeping Petunia upright, and they only make it around the big rink about four times before both are exhausted, but Petunia loves the experience. Grandma and I followed them around from outside the rink, snapping pictures and shouting words of encouragement.
I was getting a bit tired at this point, but Petunia seemed energized and fascinated by all she had seen this day. So after a short rest (which Merseydotes needed more than the rest of us) while watching the Zamboni, we pressed on.
We walked back to the car and drove to the Botanical Gardens. They have two neat holiday displays. The first is a collection of model trains, including one set on a mountain featuring lots of tunnels, little houses (some taken from fairy tales, like the Three Little Pigs), and a large castle set on top. The second is a set of scale models of the national monuments (the Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington) and other important DC buildings (Library of Congress, Capitol, Supreme Court, Smithsonian Castle) made entirely from plant materials.
Running along the center of the room where these replicas were being displayed, was a rectangular fountain, which children were tossing coins into. Petunia asked for a coin, and I searched my pockets and pulled out a nickel, which she promptly hurled into the water. As she backed away from the fountain, I asked,
“So, Petunia, what did you wish for?”
“A new daddy.”
I pick her up and look her in the eyes. “What do you mean, ‘a new daddy’? What’s wrong with the old daddy?” No answer.
Laughter by the water, from another couple with several young children who had been making wishes of their own. “If its any consolation, I thought she said ‘a new dolly.’”
So there I am. Disposable daddy who has take this child all over the place, cheered her on, shown her sights, laughed and played with her. It is two days before Christmas, ripe with the wild possibilities of what Santa could bring, and my daughter sacrifices a nickel to some minor Neptune for a new pater familias.
Fast forward a day later, and this comment has been haunting me. I have brought it up several times during the day, and ask Petunia again at dinner tonight (Christmas Eve) why she wants a new daddy.
Having some time to mull it over, and well-aware that she is only hours away from the finish line of having to stay on Santa’s “Nice” list, she replies that she does not in fact want a new daddy, but what she meant is that she wants two daddies. The other daddy would be just like me in every way, and one could cook us dinner each night, while the other just played with her.
You gotta hand it to her. The kid is good.