Daddies make great babysitter
s, but they're not always great role model
s. This is what my mother told me the first time I looked into her eyes, grinned, and said, "Ha! Bullshit!"
I was four years old, so give me a break.
But it's true that daddies make great babysitters. They make microwave popcorn for dinner, play the ticklebird game (simliar to The Claw, which Cary Elwes sucks at), and "forget" that bedtime is eight o'clock on the dot ("But don't tell mommy I forgot!"). On good nights, daddies get a Business Call. This means they gesticulate a lot, yell "Bullshit!" into the phone, and after they hang up the phone they make you some more microwave popcorn and throw you in the air like you're an airplane. Business Calls can be very fun to watch when you're four years old.
Re-enacting Business Calls for mommy is not allowed. Except I wasn't told that little rule. Oops.
Mom had gone to Open House at Peppermint Preschool. My teacher told her I was delightful, shared well, didn't hit, but I still hadn't learned my own phone number. Mom schmoozed with the other parents and drank Kool-Aid, then came home. I greeted her at the door in my green Osh-Kosh with a sticky-fingered hug and a buttery kiss. She leaned down to kiss me back, plucked a stray piece of popcorn from my hair, and told me that she'd met my friend Colleen's daddy that night. He was a doctor. This was important because (at four years old) I was going to be a doctor too someday. I grinned and said the evil word.
Mom's face darkened. Her head turned slooooowly... she looked at my father through steely slits. He smiled back sheepishly. I looked at her, looked at him, and scampered up the stairs to the bathroom. I slammed the door, locked it, and hid behind the shower curtain. I wasn't sure where I'd messed up, but I'd gotten daddy in BIG trouble.
An hour later: "Shit is a bad word, sweetie."
"I didn't say shit, mommy. I said BULLshit."
"Yes. And bull isn't a bad word. Remember the boy cows you saw at the farm down the street? Those are bulls. But shit is a bad word for poopey.
"Oh. Why was daddy talking about cow poopey?"
"That's a good question, Jen. That's a very good question."
My father never babysat for me again. Mom lugged him to every social event that popped up on the calendar. A teenage girl down the street with a spiral perm and crackly gum would come to our house almost every Friday. She would wedge the telephone between her ear and shoulder, paint her nails, and order me to bring her food. If I didn't, she would say words that were much worse than "bullshit." I changed my baby sister's diapers, fed her, and put us both to bed. The teenage girl was paid $10 for this.
To this day, the word "shit" stings my ears.