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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
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Every Day I Pause You And You Pause Me Back.

Yesterday, me and Violet were laying on the floor in her room.

That in itself is kind of cool because it isn't lost on me that in a few more years there will be no more of that horse shit allowed. Don't get me wrong: I'll try; when V's girls are all over after school and they're all jammed into her bedroom giggling and squelching, patting each others cheeks with strip mall rouge under posters of bands/unicorns/vampire romeos, I know I'll do one of those KNOCK-KNOCKs where you actually knock while you say "KNOCK-KNOCK" but in reality you were already inside the room with darting radar shooting out of your entire face long before the first vocal "Knock" was anywhere near complete. Then, I'll try and be the "cool" dad and sit down on the floor with the gang and start laughing at whatever it is they're laughing at already, even if I know deep down that, well, they're actually laughing at me...the TryHard in an XL Monsterface t-shirt.

(For those of you who just can't manage to see the future of music before it happens: in 2022 the music world is taken slightly by surprise when the batshit crazy delinquent and one-time teen idol flash-in-the-pan, Justin Bieber, joins forces with the re-re-re-resurrected singer dude from Stone Temple Pilots to form Monsterface, a band whose debut album, DIRTY UNCLES, features a kind of Chris Whitley-ish bluesy undercurrent along with piping hot Les Paul crunch and two lead vocalists singing out the conceptual parts of a filthy detestable uncle (STP) and his choirboy-gone-mad nephew (Bieber). And sometimes there's a dobro and no one anywhere in any facet of culture or the business of culture has any fucking clue what to do with it. I end up wearing the shirt, I reckon. Don't ask me why: it sounds abysmal.)


Violet's eyes will no doubt become weapons at that point, with poison darts emerging from her eyeballs at the rate of a billion per second when I plop down in her room. I will try not to notice. I'll try and be cool, reserved. No hokey stories of my "days in the band". Or my "years on the road". Or the "things I've seen". Nope. Instead, I'll try and just be chill and sip from my bottle of SmartWater (healthy-cool).

It won't work though, I know that. No self-respecting 12 or 13 year olds want to chillax with their fat dad when their friends are all over. Or even when they ain't. So after a few incredibly awkward moments of nervous eye darts and post-nuclear disaster silence, I'll get up and waddle out.

On my way out, I'll ask if anyone wants to see my new Target Bobby Flay gas/charcoal grill. No one will respond or even look at me.

When I close the door behind me, there will be a moment of in the seconds after a church bell chimes down the alleys of Florence on a spring Sunday morning...and then squeals of appalling laughter will be fired at me from behind the walls of a sacred castle in which I have no place. The sting will be the sting. There is nothing you can do, really.

So, it was with genuine delight yesterday afternoon when I popped down with 14 month old Violet on the mauve carpet in her pink and green room and put on YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN on the DVD. We watched together for a while, her resting her head on my chest now and then (melting my cold steel guts!), and sometimes wandering over to pick up the metal triangle or the lummy stick in the corner before coming back for more cartoon. Then, at one point,almost unconsciously, I happened to push the little round PAUSE button on the DVD while my daughter was holding onto my hand.

Her eyes got big. Something sparked.

She squeezed my finger hard. Then again. She moved my finger away from the button.

Then, quickly, she pushed it back to the DVD. I hit the PAUSE. Charlie Brown continued his talk. She couldn't believe it. I was magic.

She moved my finger. I paused the film.

Her face grew more intense. She moved my finger again, as if she were leading an elephant across the lane.

I unpaused and the action kicked in. She did it, two/three/fourty times . Faster now, repeating the motion of pulling my finger to and from that one button over and over and over again with desperate rapidity, each time staring at the screen with bugged-out eyes, trying to fathom that it was all true indeed! That her daddy was controlling the universe in which one Snoopy existed! I was mesmerized too. I was witnessing my baby's brain at work. Even if she had a glass-bottom head, it couldn't have been any cooler, any sweeter.

Then, after fifteen minutes or so of the discovery being tested and re-tested, I started to think that I must be close to breaking the DVD player. There was no way it was meant to be fucked with like that, at that magnitude or at that speed. I ended the game with a series of Martian type tongue rolls that I do. It creates a clicky GodAwful sound that never fails to ruin all fun at any given moment. It worked of course, and the moment straddled a sunbeam and rode off into the late afternoon sun.

Then we went down to the kitchen to eat some cheese chunks and maybe some toast and maybe some juice.

Reader Comments (13)

Beautiful. I love those moments when you can actually watch them learning and putting it all together. My little girl already went through that AND the teenage years with the poison dart/laser/deathray eyes (even when her friends actually invited me to stay), and now has two little ones of her own in the middle of that fascinating learning phase, which seems to last a long time until it passes completely, and then it's like a tiny blip you can hardly see. I miss those moments - enjoy them while they last.

March 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBailey

I love that. I'm still watching mine learn and she is 18. It is a less joyous, often painful learning, but the wide-eyed lights click on moment is still somehow there.

Lookin' forward to the Monsterface.

Thank you!

March 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterarchaeholic

These moments you're spelling out are going to be invaluable to not only you, but your daughter, decades in the future when they'd have otherwise been forgotten. I absolutely love what I just read.

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Tell me how not to take a second for granted with my daughter, how to treasure those moments when she is asleep and dreaming and I could look at her forever. How do you enjoy yourself at any given moment more than you already are? Why is it that later when its over you look back at that moment wishing you were back there doing it again, but you can't, it's passed, its gone, and people say "you've got your memories?" I want more, I'm greedy, I want to capture them, so when I'm old I can relive them and feel that magic once again.

My baby girl is only 6 months old and its rushing by so quickly, and I'm hanging on to the ride, going with the flow but also trying to tread water and keep it from rushing away.

Thank you Serge. Love the thought you put into your work, and as I'm in a similar position, new Dad and all I feel the excitement and wonder and awe thats clear you do.

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan

My husband Dan! Father of our baby girl, you always know what to say and how to say it that sums up exactly how you feel! What wonderful, emotion filled words. I love you.
Serge, you have inspired my husband more than you can know. Thank you.

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Stinkin cute. Sweet thoughts about your baby girl. My oldest is 13 years old, my youngest 8 months. I smother my baby because I know what is coming!

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJaimee

Refreshing to read the words of not one, but two fathers grasping the bittersweet reality of time passing and the importance of just being there. Beign part of it. So many dads aren't. Don't. Won't. Having and holding first moments with someone you love is the best thing. Thank you Serge and Monica for sharing these personal stories. It's like two very bright stars married and produced one ultrasharp Violet ray. It's no surprise she caught on to that pause/unpause trick so quickly. Again, great writing.

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGina

This was so beautiful.

I'm so lucky my daughter has an amazing dad, too. She's 10, and very girly and loves her friends and her dance studio and everything about her life. But her very favorite thing is fishing with her dad. We live in South FL and they're going to the Keys next week for a long day of fishing and she could not be more excited about anything! Don't assume your Violet is going to turn on you, Serge. You just may remain awesome for longer than you think.

And Dan. How sweet. I thought by the way he was talking about it all going too fast he had a teenager or something. And his baby is only 6 months! I just loved that. Lucky daughters.

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkds

Welp, another great thing.... when she's the marrying age, you know, 30-sompin, your daughter will look for a guy whose going to treat her as well as you have, and will NEVER EVER EVER settle for less than the best~ Well, you HOPE not. At least not in her eyes. You seem to have a knack for being able to do a mental (swirly?) fast forward, but as your last reader commented, they don't ALL do that. Dr. Notable Dobson said that once they hit 18 or so they snap out of it and fly back home whichever planet they were off to. Girls are slinkys. Boys are yo-yos.

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGina

My husband just lived this the other day. He walked in to our 11 year old daughter's room while she and her friend were listening to the "Glee" soundtrack and painting their nails. He asked "When is it time to rock out ot Justin Bieber??" They laughed, called him a dork, and told him to close the door on his way out. Seriously, drink it all the blink of an eye that day will be yours.

March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

"Tell Aunt Gina not to say A WORD."- Words spoken rather harshly by my 15 year old nephew Brendan to his mother, as he and 6 of his skateboard freak friends piled into the back seats of their car. Sheesh.

I let her bury us in cornball as I suffered silently in indignation.

March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGina

You need to write a book or have a syndicated column. Seriously, who comes up with Monsterface and Dirty Uncles (what's the title track on that?!) and then melts hearts with the flick of a keyboard? No one.

March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

You might get lucky you know. I worshipped my Dad and he was always cool, even in my friend's eyes as well.

March 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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