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"Mama, do you want to know something funny about Tucker's name?" Julia asks as we're driving home from school.
I can see it coming like a Mac truck barreling down the road toward me. Still, I look in the rearview mirror and ask:
"What's funny about his name, Juje?"
"Tucker, Tucker, Bo-Bucker, Banana, Fana, Fo, F&$*$$&er."
And there it is.
The F-word. From the mouths of babes. And though I had anticipated it, its hurtling impact tosses me into some sort of slow-motion movie sequence where the F-word echoes through the air like that scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie drops the F-bomb on the side of the road.
Julia is laughing hysterically in the back seat. I try to keep a straight face when I ask:
"What's funny about that, Juje?"
And, as I half suspected (or at least hoped), she yells: "Fana! Fana is funny!"
She's doubled over with laughter.
I smile into the rearview mirror, relieved, and say: "Fana is kind of funny."
And then: "You know what else is funny, mama? Fanny! And Fucker!"
I try to look stern as I launch into an immediate lecture about how that's a bad word, and I don't ever want to hear it ever again, and if Santa heard you saying that, he wouldn't be very happy, yada, yada, yada, but in my head, it's all "Waaaah waaaah, waaaah, waaaaaah, waaaaah, waaaaah," like I'm suddenly a teacher in a Peanuts cartoon, droning along on the outside, while I'm practically busting a gut on the inside.
Julia seems a little embarrassed, and I realize that she obviously didn't understand what she was saying. Then, I feel a little guilty, and kick myself for playing the Santa card—again. I have to admit that I've been milking the Santa thing for all its worth. Santa—this omnipresent, omniscient being who sees and hears everything, even when I can't. Santa—who holds the ultimate authority over which little boys and girls get toys on Christmas day. It's genius.
I guess it serves me right, then, that my Santa tactics seem to be backfiring. Like when I was making dinner and Julia (who was out of eyesight, but not out of earshot) called out:
"Mama—do you think Santa was watching when I did that?"
"When you did what, Juje?" I called back.
"Oh, nooooothing... "
At this point, I think: I really should go and investigate, but I'm wrist-deep in a bowl of raw meat and eggs, squishing together our dinner. And then, a few minutes later, I hear:
"Mama, do you think he was laughing?"
Yes, Juje. I'm guessing he probably was. On the inside. While he checked his "Naughty" list and tried to look stern.
Tonight, the jig is up. Santa's on his way, and I have the distinct feeling that Julia will wake up on Christmas morning to find that she's been on his "Nice" list all along. But just to be safe, I think it would be best if she leaves him a big plate of cookies. Chocolate chip. Hold the nuts.
Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.
Read the next entry: 12.31.07: Baby Alive