Saturday, May 30, 2009

So much for that standard lecture

For twenty years my kids have known one simple, invariable rule of life:

If you say in Dad's presence, "That's not fair," then you will instantly be informed by Dad that, "Life's not fair," and he will usually add, "Get over it." This is, Dad considers, one of the most important things Granddaddy ever taught him. (Clearly Granddaddy and Dad aren't the only old codgers who lead with this advice; Charles Sykes has a very close variant of it in his excellent list of Rules Kids Won't Learn In School.) And my children have never had an effective comeback for it; the best they've ever come up with is, "Aw, Da-a-a-d!"

So yesterday evening Rusty and Kinya and I helped my friend Sylvia and her daughter Damaris move the last of their big furniture out of storage into their newly rented house. This task was complicated, by the way, by the fact that the pickup truck Randy had loaned me for the weekend seems to have a bad battery, and thus Miss Damaris had to jump-start the pickup truck at the start and end of every trip to the storage facility, plus at the gas station where I filled up the truck. But we did eventually finish, and in the process Miss Damaris learned how to jump-start a car, which I was appalled to discover nobody had ever explained to her.

By then it was getting close to seven o'clock, and Miss Damaris decided to come along with us to the Far East Chinese buffet restaurant for dinner. Sylvia couldn't come along because she had to go to work...and now that Sylvia isn't around, I shall return to referring to Miss Damaris as "Miss Daniela." (Sylvia calls her by her middle name "Damaris," you see, which Sylvia rightly thinks is a lovely name; and therefore so do the people at La Casa; but at the coffee shop and among her friends and to her brother Daniel she is "Daniela." So out of respect for Sylvia, who is after all the girl's mom, I call the young lady "Miss Damaris" whenever her mother's around or when I'm at church, and "Miss Daniela" on other occasions. And if you think that's confusing, then just wait until I explain to you how to decide when you should address Kristina as "Kristina" and when she is more properly referred to as "Leroy.")

Well, we're sitting around the table at Far East while Kinya and Miss Daniela chatter on and I join in on the conversation now and then in between coaching Rusty on restaurant table manners. And then for some reason, I can't remember exactly why now, Miss Daniela starts complaining (partly for comic effect) that her parents have been way easier on her nine-years-younger brother Daniel than they were on her. (Never heard that one from an older brother or sister before, have ya?) And inevitably...

MISS DANIELA: ...and I suppose it's probably a good thing that my dad and mom were so hard on me, but still, it's not fair.

[Kristina can't help but look instantly in my direction because she has a horrible suspicion of what's coming, namely, that Papa is going to embarrass her by giving her twenty-four-year-old friend his standard parental lecture. Well, since I hate disappointing my children...]

MR. PIERCE: [chuckling] Now, Miss Daniela, I'm not trying to treat you like you're one of my daughters, you understand...but whenever my kids say, "It's not fair," I always tell them, "Kid, life isn't fair -- get over it."

MISS DANIELA: [giving me her best mock glare and bringing her fist down sharply on the table] Well, we can make it fair! -- [looks sideways at Kinya] can't we, Kristina?"

KRISTINA: [gleefully] Yes we can!

So much for my kids not knowing a comeback to Papa's "Life's not fair, get over it," line. So, Miss Daniela:

1. Good one! I have to admit, that was pretty funny; I couldn't help laughing.

2. [glaring in my own turn] You're a...a...a Democrat, aren't you?!?

3. You're not allowed around my kids any more. (Naw, I'm just kiddin'.)


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