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Friday, April 14, 2006 | Parentally Incorrect
I don’t always want my daughter to disobey but sometimes it turns out to have some benefits.
Case in point: I took Alex to the park recently so she could play on the slides but we left early because she tried to run out of the playground. After all, if she’s allowed to stay, then she’ll think she can get away with it.
I’m an easy parent but I’m trying to show her there’s a new sheriff in town. Actually, it’s the same old sheriff (my wife) but I’m trying to make sure the deputy is doing his job as well.
Anyway, she was sad at first and asked me if I was upset. I answered affirmatively but tried to let her know I still loved her despite being a wild child.
So we’re walking home and she’s on my shoulders and she says, “Dad, how come you don’t have a Mommy and a Daddy?”
This is a question I figured would come up some day. I have lots of these including, “Dad, why are you so weird?” “Dad, why do you only eat french fries when Mom isn’t watching” and the big one, “Dad, since ‘Law & Order’ and its various spin-offs are showing 24 hours a day, why do you have to watch that show now?”
I have already prepared answers to those other questions – “Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids.” “Because they’re there.” And “This episode features Jerry Orbach. He was only in a few episodes.” – but had no idea when I would be asked the missing parent question and, thus, had no answer.
My parents both died within a five month period around the time I was 29, a long time before the thought of having Alex or her new baby brother, Owen, even popped into my head.
Still, I think of them often every time she does something good, bad or if she just does something.
I guess Alex was thinking about them too because she realized that Grandma and Grandpa were Mommy’s parents and wanted the skinny about what happened to mine.
I didn’t want to go into detail about how my Dad or Mom died.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not afraid of explaining their deaths to my daughter but I would rather wait until she’s older or until it’s made into a Disney cartoon with cute elephants and deer to offset the tragedy.
But wouldn’t you know old Walt came to my aid anyway thanks to the Lion King.
Alex loves that movie and sometimes refers to herself as “Baby Simba” and her big old Daddy as Mufasa, the Lion King. During the movie, Mufasa explains that all the ancestors that came before are up there in the stars looking down.
So, rather explain the gory details of Mom’s pancreatic cancer or Dad’s sudden heart attack, I was able to quote Mufasa and explain my situation in a way she can understand.
I told her that her grandma’s name was Carrie and she liked to sing and write – just like Daddy – and her grandpa was Ken and he played the bass guitar, which was a bigger version of Daddy’s ukulele.
“And they’re looking down?” she asked.
“Yes,” and they love you very much and they’re proud of you and your brother, Owen.”
“Mommy has a Daddy too?”
“Yes, he’s Grandpa. And Grandma is Mommy’s mommy.”
Then she got deeper, asking if her Uncles David and Stephen had daddies and mommies and I happily informed her that, yes, they do and so do Aunt Tammy, Aunt Lisa, Aunt Mary and Auntie Karen.
She seemed impressed and at that moment I felt really close with Alex and my parents. I even looked up towards the skies although it was still too light to see the stars and tried to remember the moment I first realized that all kids have mommies and daddies.
It was a particularly good feeling of déjà vu and I was sort of happy that Alex chose to disobey. After all, if she had not run away from me in the first place, we might never have discussed the issue.
That’s why I felt a little weird when we walked in the door and the first thing she said to Mommy was “I was a bad girl today,” because I couldn’t say “Yes, and I’m very grateful.”
David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who can’t decide which Disney death scene has more emotional impact: Mufasa getting torn apart by hyenas or Bambi’s mom getting shot by hunters. He can be reached at