At a fourth grade play the other day, my daughter was by far the best whistler. I’m bragging. Which isn’t like me. But there’s a reason why: by being the best whistler, my fourth-grader effectively blew away the small rather arrogant boy standing near her who frequently calls her “milk face.”
We are pale people. We don’t tan, and if we are even partly naked in the sun we tend to blind people with our reflection. My fourth grade daughter also happens to be a platinum (natural – no toddler tiara funny business here) blonde. So you can probably conclude where the name “milk face” came from.
When my milk face daughter told me of the boy’s name-calling, I hugged her tight and told her what every good parent does – that Mr silent pursed-lipped faker face is really short so he’s definitely going to grow up angry. (She hasn’t studied the French Revolution yet so I skipped the most obvious reference for his condition.) Then I pushed her away, ran to my desk and scribbled “Milk Face!” on the back of an old AT&T bill.
I did the same thing with “Caption Obvious.” This time the name was hurled at me by my fourteen year-old daughter. I had done about as much to deserve this as good ole Milk Face had done to deserve her verbal abuse: nothing. I’d merely pointed out that Miss fourteen year-old sassy pants had better study for her European History test instead of watching Glee.
“Duh. Thank you Caption Obvious.”
I know I should have taken her phone away, or made her clean up the dog poop in the yard, but instead I waved her away, ran to my desk and scribbled down “Caption Obvious!” on the back of a mortgage statement.
Good dialogue is precious. The kind that you can’t-no-way-not-a-chance-make-up on your own supersedes all comforting and punishing. I mean milk face? How good is that.
Which leads me to conclude that writers are bad parents. At least fiction writers. We have to make stuff up, and it’s hard. Like trying to bend a spoon with your mind hard. We need all the help we can get and if that means abusive, disrespectful name-calling, then fine.
Bring it on, Shawty.
Causes Jennifer Hummer Supports
Writegirl - a nonprofit group of professional women writer who work with at-risk high school girls around Los Angeles CA