Tag Archives: dad

The Valentine Man

Since having Menininho, Valentine’s Day has become much less of a big deal in our house. Pre-baby, we’d get dressed up and go out for an Italian meal (and for Brasilian food on our anniversary, to celebrate our heritages). This year, we decided last minute on Saturday to try Applebee’s, where I had a very disappointing pasta dish and Mark ended up with some cheese dip appetizer because that was the only thing he could be confident was gluten-free.

Aaaanyway, the point of this post is not to talk about the flies that accompanied our meal (talk about nasty!), but to tell you about a family tradition: the Valentine Man. As far back as I can remember, each Valentine’s Day I received a small gift from the mysterious Valentine Man. When I was little it was a My Little Pony. As I got older, it might be a CD or a box of my favorite donuts. The gifts were never costly, and I appreciated that it was my dad’s way of letting us know he loved us, when his illness often kept him from being able to express that.

The Valentine Man is a tradition that Mark and I want to pass on to our kids. We went through Target tonight, looking for after-Valentine’s deals because, let’s be honest, it’s not like the baby knows/cares, but next year we’ll be more organized about it and do a card and everything. For now, though, Menininho is enjoying the toys he can take to the playground sandbox when the weather warms up in a few weeks.

Do you have any Valentine’s traditions?

And, have you entered the Have a Heart giveaway?

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How Mary Saved Me from Teenage Mortification

This week I’m answering the MamaKat’s prompt #5: Describe a moment you felt embarrassed by your parents

I think a more apt prompt would be “When WEREN’T you embarrassed by your parents?” My mother is not usually one to over-share or cause a scene (except when she passed my baby picture around my class in middle school, or took my girlfriends and me to see Spice World [I only saw it out of peer pressure, I tell you!] and screamed OH MY GOSH THOSE ARE NAKED BUTTS COVER YOUR EYES! during the “male dancers” part…). My father, on the other hand, was a bipolar artist. We lived in a small town and EVERYONE knew who he was, for better or for worse.

Now, in high school we lived in a house whose back could be seen well from the highway. Not built by us, it was an open-beam home and had been constructed with a crane dropping in the skeleton of the house, which caused attention in our town: enough that we got a lot of unsolicited feedback when we did some necessary remodeling.

Christmas was Dad’s favorite season of the year. He loved to decorate the house inside and out, sometimes in unconventional ways. The new house proved to be his perfect canvas, and our first Christmas there he decided on a blue theme.

I don’t have a problem with blue Christmas lights. I do have a problem with abstract designs done randomly all over the exterior of the house in those huge, no longer sold, blue Christmas lights.  Frustrated with trying to detangle the lights, my dad literally threw the whole lot of them onto the side of the house and nailed the mess in place.

You can imagine the comments I heard around town.

The icing on the cake though occurred when I was being driven home from a babysitting gig by a neighbor. “Oh my GOODness!” she yelled as she slammed on the breaks. “YOU HAVE THE VIRGIN MARY ON THE SIDE OF YOUR HOUSE in Christmas lights! How did your father DO that?”

I looked at the mottled mess.

“Oh, you know, he’s really creative like that.”

Please don’t strike me down for that fib. I was an embarrassed teenager.

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Piece of Cake

I think I was 9 that summer. My parents bought a fake hammock (you know, one of those that comes on a stand) for our front porch and I was content to spend hours on it reading. My 7-year-old brother was content to cause trouble, and on this particular day did so by tossing me out of the hammock and onto the concrete porch.

I was hurt, but not so hurt that I couldn’t run and wake my parents from their nap. “Matthew pushed me out of the haaaaaamock!” I cried. “You have to PUNISH him!” My father opened up one eye and surveyed my brother and me. “I’m going to need some time to think of a punishment to fit this crime, “ he said, then dismissed us to await his decision.

Really, this was genius. It bought my parents more time to sleep, it placated me, and my brother spent several hours squirming with mental anguish over what our dad was going to do to him. Eventually my parents got up, we did some chores and got ready to go to the pool. Still, no punishment. My brother was getting so panicked that Mom insisted Dad mete out the consequence.

At this point in the story you might think that the punishment was the worry over the punishment, but you’d be wrong. My father, an artist, was more creative than that. With my mother, baby sister, and I waiting by the van to leave, he instructed my brother to stand in the middle of the front lawn.

My grandfather lived nearby in an assisted-living community. Each week the local grocery store would drop off their too-old-to-be-sold baked goods for the seniors, and Grampa Pai would bring us a batch. Most of the food was totally inedible, and this week was no exception: Grampa had delivered us a stale, robin’s egg blue cake. It was this cake that my father took outside to my brother.

Before you could blink, Dad had smeared Matt with blue icing and yellow cake head to toe!

My father laid a towel down in the van for Matthew to sit on, then made him shower in the POOL SHOWERS, you know, the ones with spiders in the corner and that smell vaguely of chlorine and pee? The HORROR! For my 9-year-old self, there could be no better punishment for my dastardly brother.

Now, I realize there are some parents who would cry foul over this. They would say punishments should be more related to the misbehavior and that fear is unnecessary and cruel, and they’d probably be right. But you know what? Matt never pushed me out of the hammock again, we all had a good laugh after the fact (him included), and now that Dad is gone, this is one of our fondest memories. It always makes us laugh, and I respect his creativity in parenting.

I was so excited to see my prompt (#1) posted at Mama Kat’s for this week’s Writers Workshop! And then I realized the story I created the prompt around doesn’t actually fit the prompt, because it’s about my brother being punished and not me. But whatever. I’m taking artistic license. If you can’t do that when it’s your own prompt, when can you, right?

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