April's Real Blog

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Unclench, Mike!

Mike has sum more 2 share abt his life as a parent:

Formerly little sis. I remember when my sister and I would get into arguments and we rarely had the opportunity to just talk it out. Mom would intervene with some screaming, and whatever method we could have developed through the pure joy of conversation didn’t have a chance to work. I figured I could just stand there or sit there, giving disapproving looks and my children would eventually come to a logical conclusion about whatever it is that they were arguing.

My fatal mistake as it turned out was the assumption that there was a logical conclusion. You may recollect from my writing yesterday, my son had stated that “Merediff was SEEING at me!!!”

My daughter’s counter argument was, “Daddy, Robin’s being a baby!” This argument may work well on the 5-year-old set, but for me I really needed to hear how she wasn’t “seeing” at my son. My son, however, caught on to the illogic of her argument and restated his point. He said, “AM NOT! She was seeing at me!!!” he pointed a finger toward my daughter, and she very cleverly chose that moment to have no eyes. Well, that did confuse the matter. After all, how can she be “seeing” at my son, if she has no eyes? I gave them both my Alice the Goon , slow burn.

Well, my daughter’s eyes suddenly sprang back into her head and they were open very wide, not unlike your speed freak eyes you occasionally get. My son pointed out, “Look! She’s doing it AGAIN! She was SEEING at me!!!” This was a clever move on the part of my son, because now he had definite proof of his claim in addition to a visual definition of what “seeing at me” means. His case was very strong, despite the fact, to illustrate his point, he was pointing at his chin.

My daughter countered with “Duhh!! Can’t I LOOK at anybody? All I did was LOOK at him!” and the patented Patterson splayed hand to the chest. This is a good counterargument. Instead of denying my son’s definition of the phrase, “seeing at me”, my daughter indicated that she had another, more common, definition for what she was doing, i.e. “Look”. She was using one of her advantages of age, which is to know the words for things.

I decided to sit on the chesterfield to reason this one out. While I was sitting there, I decided to try my own version of “seeing at” my son, to see if he noticed. He didn’t. He was concentrating on his sister and imitating her eye movement. He said, “I was playin’ an’ she was doin’ THIS wif her EYES!-- She was SEEING at me!!!!” Well, I had already gotten the subtle difference, since I had actually seen her do it a few seconds before. And I was a little distracted that my son could say the “th” of “this”, but couldn’t say the “th” of Meredith. Despite this demonstration, my son felt the need to emphasize the point and said, “SEE?!! as if he wanted corroboration that I had seen him do the eye motion.

But then I realized he had actually used a double-entendre, because his final “See?!!” could be taken as a question as to whether I witnessed his demonstration or a question as to whether I understood what he was trying to say. Wordplay from my son brought tears to my eyes, which I couldn’t let my children see, so I slapped my hand up to my eyes to hide my tears, and also to get in another good grimace. You can’t grimace enough when it comes to kids.

Michael Patterson
You can’t grimace enough when it comes to kids. Yeah, you totally can. And you totally do, Mike. Unclench! BTW, the "th" sound in "this" and the one in "Meredith" are different sounds phonetically. They're represented by different symbols if you do phonetic transcription. My English teacher demonstr8ed this 2 my class this yr.


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  • At 9:11 AM, Anonymous jeremy jones said…

    april, i nevah had ne sibs, so i didn't have this prob. i remembah 1 tyme wen i wuz on an "outing" w/my dad & 2 of his "girlfriends" got n2 a fight cuz 1 of them wuz lookin' @the othah strange. dad just sed, "catfight!", & put up his feet 2 watch. it soundz almost like the way ur bro duz hiz parentin', xxcept w/o sprayin' beer on the peeps who r fightin'.

  • At 9:55 AM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    yeah, he's just one batch of popcorn away from treating his kids' fite like a free show, eh?


  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger howard said…


    "Treating his kids' fight like a free show." I am afraid I have been guilty of that too. I had to break up one with my daughters, María and Ana, where I think I was listening to them longer than I should have.

    It started out with a discussion about the genesis of the Tango dance in Argentina. Ana maintained that the dance originated in the bars, brothels, and barrios of Buenos Aires. María said the vocabulary of the dance clearly combined the rhythmic patterns of African dance with footwork that resembled the kicks and flicks of the gauchos on horseback from the Argentine pampas. Eventually it worked its way down to María telling Ana she was jealous because she was dating Paul Mayes, and Ana calling María a gold-digger. Whew!

    I didn’t really step in to stop them until they got to the name-calling. I was curious if Ana was going to bring up the effect on the tango origins from Europe during the international tango craze of the twenties. It was not a good parenting moment for me.

    Howard Bunt

  • At 1:55 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    howard, don't feel 2 bad. @ least u were taking an interest in what yr girls were talking abt. mike is 2 full of himself 2 even do that.


  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said…

    Good gravy. You'd think he'd never seen small children fight before. Or, worse, forgot all the times he mixed it up with Liz. He's acting like this is the worst thing to happen to him ever, worse than the fire even.

  • At 4:36 PM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. You have accused me of being too full of myself to take an interest in what Howard Bunt’s girls are talking about? I don’t see how the two are related. Why would I be interested in that? Now if you were talking about my interest in my own children, I can assure that I riveted to my chesterfield to discern the differences between “seeing” as someone vs. looking at someone, as explained by my children. Remember, it is not a good idea to listen to much of what the Amazon River catfish says.

  • At 4:56 PM, Anonymous qnjones said…

    Ugly Brother,

    When it comes to kids, I prefer not to grimace, it makes lines on your face, and I do not want to move into another "face of my life" like Mom did, because Mom looks super bad now compared to when she was my age, but anyway, that is why I have started doing the "gape and stare" instead, where you let your whole face and jaw go slack in amazement and disbelief, like this:

    X X
    | U |

    , you can see that the tongue has to stick out too when you do this for best effect, it really works wonders for making you stay young and beautiful and maintaining your allure until your stupid boyfriend proposes already, but you and Dee don't have to worry, you are married, so it is time for you to let yourselves go now, lucky you.


  • At 5:15 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    mike, did it occur 2 u that mayB robin needs help from, say, a parent, 2 learn the difference between "see" and "look"? and by that, i don't mean "w8 4 dee 2 come home and xxplain."


  • At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Lamar Grant said…

    Wow, so Miss Patterson does that face on purpose? I'm in her class and most of us thought she had a medical condition that makes her do that face.


  • At 5:34 PM, Anonymous liz patterson said…


    I guess you did not get that memo that was sent home to all the kids, entitled, "No, Miss Patterson Did Not Have A Stroke, Thank You For Your Concern," or go to the assembly, "Miss Patterson Is Not 'Special Needs,' Stop That Rumor Already," or see the Christmas play, entitled, "Miss Patterson Is Special, Not 'Special Needs,'" or see my 30 minute beauty infomercial on Milborough Local Access TV, entitled, "Miss Patterson's Beauty Tips for Hopeful Spinsters--Preserving Your Looks for a Late-In-Life Marriage!", you really should pay more attention in school, Lamar.


  • At 6:08 PM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. Your suggestion my son needs help to learn the differences between “see” and “look” gave me a good laugh. April, after he did that wonderful wordplay based on the dual meanings of the word “see”, I would say his language skills are advanced well beyond that point. Obviously having a best-selling novelist for a father has rubbed off on him. You should watch out, formerly little sis, or soon my son will be giving you lessons in grammar.

    Michael Patterson

  • At 6:24 PM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Slightly older little sis. When I look at your picture of the "gape and stare", I don’t see it. It looks to me like a dead clown. If I compare that image to that of Mom’s face, I can see why you might go for it; but I think I would be afraid, if I were in the same situation as you (unmarried and living in sin), that you might be only a few short steps from joining a circus. That would be bad news for you, because circus folk wardrobe is a little on the flashy and floppy side (not your best look).

    As for grimacing, I have not noticed any lines on my nearly-perfect skin from it. My main problem after a good grimace is to get my eyes back on my face. I am sure you have noticed that we Pattersons and our pets often go into a “no eye” kind of look, which does make it troublesome to drive or write novels. They do eventually return, but it can be frustrating to wait until they do.

    As for letting myself go, I have noticed I look like you more and more often these days. It can be a problem to have to say, “No Anthony. I’m not Elizabeth, I’m Michael. You can tell from my minty and not lizardly breath.” Any efforts you can make to look less like me are greatly appreciated.

    Michael Patterson

  • At 6:45 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    mike, u r so desperate 2 identify "wordplay" from yr kids, u r perceiving it where it doesn't xxist. 1st robin misused "see." he obvs was worried that no1 was understanding, so he demonstrated what he meant and added "see?!!" cuz he wanted 2 make sure u had, u know, in a totally concrete and literal way, seen him demonstrate. not wordplay, sorry.

    oh, and it soundz like merrie was trying 2 correct him when she sed "all i did was look @ him," but that kinda got pushed 2 the side.


  • At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Lamar Grant said…

    Sorry, Miss Patterson. Some of the big kids in grade five have been saying all those memos, assemblies, plays, and stuff have been a cover-up and the opposite of what's true. They sounded really sure of themselves, so we totally believed them. Please don't give me any "special jobs" during recess!


  • At 2:41 AM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. I like sleeping. Don’t you? I find that after I have had a troublesome day, there is nothing like a good, long nap to ease my sorrows. It’s sort of like baseball – 3 strikes and you’re out and headed toward being pleasantly unconscious. One strike would be kids fighting over a vegetable peeler. Strike two would be fighting over a Galaxy game. Strike three would be fighting over getting to play with the bunny.

    After my daughter and my son got into an argument over the differences between seeing and looking, I did the only sensible thing a father could do. I picked up the child who was the lightest and said, “Well, it’s obvious that you two can’t get along this evening, so I’m going to separate you.” So I picked up my son and he said, “No!” and my daughter said, “No, Dad!” I suppose they thought I might not be smart enough or strong enough to separate them; however I remembered that the boys in our family are always the lightest. My boy picked up his teddy bear for extra weight, but he was still the lightest.

    I may not have mentioned this before, but this fight was going on your old room in the house, the rec room. I said, “Meredith, you stay in the rec room. Robin, you come upstairs with me.” My daughter uttered what must have been a magic spell with the words, “Nyaah!! I get to play with the bunny!” , because the bunny that I have not seen in months magically appeared on the floor along with a big, empty cage.

    Upon seeing the bunny, my son started yelling, “I WANNA BE WIF THE BUNNY!!” You may note, formerly little sis, that my son did not say, “I want to play with the bunny.” He said, “be wif”. Obviously, I can’t let my son be a wif(e) to the bunny. Humans and bunnies aren’t allowed to marry in Canada, at least not yet, anyway.

    Well, the thought of my son marrying a bunny simply took the energy out of me. As my daughter was going “Pfttt” behind my back and my son was crying a generous arc of tears. It was like I was talking about before. I suddenly became very sleepy. I said, “Maybe you both should go to bed.” That seemed like a great idea to me. I would get to sleep. My children would be sleeping and wouldn’t bother me. However, there was one problem:

    My daughter said it best, “I don’t wanna go to bed! It’s no fair!!! We’re not TIRED yet!!” That’s right, April. You probably remember from my post last Monday that I had not yet finished supper, because while I was in the process of making it, I was taking time to read my newspaper. It was actually sometime around supper time, but unfortunately not late enough in the day for my wife, the lovely Deanna, to have returned home from the pharmacy. So, my kids were right that it probably was a little early for them to go to bed. I was at my wit’s end, trying to keep up with them. After all, they had disturbed my supper-making and interrupted my newspaper-reading and…there’s bound to be something else in there. Oh yes, they ruined my masterful use of a timer to break up a fight.

    Then I felt something mysterious come over me and I suddenly felt like my face was beginning to look like Grandpa Jim’s face. My chin jutted out in a way it had never done before. My eyebrows lightened up, and I could feel the temperature on my forehead was higher and a few beads of sweat sprang off my forehead. I was thinking, “Who’s looking like Grandpa?” and my answer to myself was, “Well…I am.” Let me tell you, April, it is a frightening experience. Just remembering it again has shaken me and I need to stop writing now.

    Michael Patterson


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