Conversations I Imagine My 10-Year-Old and 7-Year-Old Have About Me When They See Each Other in the Hallway at School

10-year-old: Hey.

7-year-old: Hey.

10-year-old: How’s school going today?

7-year-old: Good, you?

10-year-old: Fine. Anybody picking on you?

7-year-old: Nope.

10-year-old: Dad told me to keep an eye on you.

7-year-old: He’s such a worrywart!

10-year-old: But he loves us. We’re lucky that way.

7-year-old: I certainly feel lucky.

10-year-old: Okay, well, see you after school.

7-year-old: Bye.

– – – –

10-year-old: What did Dad put in your lunch today?

7-year-old: Um, a ham sandwich, an organic yogurt thing, an apple, a juice pouch, and a candy bar. You?

10-year-old: Same. What kind of candy bar?

7-year-old: Just one of those small ones. Snickers.

10-year-old: I got a small Milky Way. If he ever gives you something extra….

7-year-old: …I know, I will tell you. And you tell me.

10-year-old: Of course I will. I know that man will mess up one day and give me something more, or give you something more, and when he does we’ll nail him with the evidence.

7-year-old: It’ll be great. You know how he gets so flustered sometimes, like when the cop pulled him over and he started babbling and turning red? And the cop was like, “Sir, calm down. Sir, I am demanding that you calm down.” It’ll be like that.

10-year-old: Yep. And it’ll teach him a great lesson to always treat us as equals. But we should also remember, we’re fighting for a much larger and more important cause—the one to make sure that all parents treat their children of all ages exactly the same. I cannot wait till we get credit for this.

7-year-old: Me either. Okay, gotta run. Bye.

10-year-old: Stay strong!

– – – –

7-year-old: Hey. Remember this morning on the way to school when Dad made us listen to The Loud Band again?

10-year-old: Nirvana, yeah.

7-year-old: And the part where that angry singer says, “I tried hard to have a father/but instead I had a dad?”

10-year-old: Uh, you mean the part that Dad sings at the top of his lungs while we’re driving by a group of my friends? Yeah.

7-year-old: Well, I’ve been thinking about it, and I think that Dad is not a dad at all.

10-year-old: What do you mean?

7-year-old: I think he’s more of a father.

10-year-old: …

7-year-old: …

10-year-old: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Seriously, don’t ever say that to him. That would devastate him. Devastate. He actually told me once that he wants to be a “dather.” That’s a father and a dad mixed together.

7-year-old: He’s an odd one.

10-year-old: Hey, let’s call him “Father” tonight at dinner, over and over, just to mess with him.

7-year-old: That’s a funny and cruel idea. Let’s do it.

10-year-old: Okay, see you after school.

7-year-old: Bye.

– – – –

10-year-old: Did Dad leave a note in your lunch?

7-year-old: Yes. It said, “Have a good lunch. Love, Dad.”

10-year-old: Mine said, “Hope you’re having a good day. Love, Dad.”

7-year-old: That sounds about the same to me. The same, but different. A difficult balance. My problem is the man’s handwriting. It’s—what’s the word?

10-year-old: His handwriting sucks. That’s the word. And how about the way he folded the peanut butter and jelly in the aluminum foil?

7-year-old: You call that folding? I call it crumpling.

10-year-old: He’s exceptionally uncoordinated.

7-year-old: …

10-year-old: What’s wrong?

7-year-old: Well, just so you know, I, uh, actually didn’t get peanut butter and jelly on my sandwich today.

10-year-old: …What did you get?

7-year-old: Ham.

10-year-old: You got a ham sandwich? And I got peanut butter and jelly…. Very interesting. Very interesting, indeed. I need to think about that.

7-year-old: Well, I’d better go to the bathroom now.

10-year-old: See you after school.

7-year-old: Bye.

– – – –

7-year-old: Hey. Could you help me with something?

10-year-old: Sure.

7-year-old: Every time I wrestle Dad, he seems to get the best of me. How do you always get him to leap away from you in pain?

10-year-old: Oh, easy: Draw him close, like you’re going to give him a hug, then yank on his chest hair.

7-year-old: Chest hair? He won’t expect this?

10-year-old: He’s very gullible. He trusts his children too much.

7-year-old: Boy, you’re right about that. I can’t wait ‘till the teen years. We’ll get away with everything when Mom’s not around.

10-year-old: Trust me, I’m already plotting….

7-year-old: So, chest hairs.

10-year-old: Hard yank. Hear him yelp.

7-year-old: I think I’ll try that tonight.

10-year-old: Can you call me into the room shortly before you do? I’d like to see it.

7-year-old: Sure. See you after school.

10-year-old: Bye.

– – – –

10-year-old: Hey.

7-year-old: Hey.

10-year-old: …

7-year-old: …

10-year-old: …Listen, I’m really sorry about last night.

7-year-old: No, no, I’m sorry. It was my fault.

10-year-old: I really shouldn’t have spit on you.

7-year-old: And I shouldn’t have pulled your hair. Chicken or the egg: It really doesn’t matter which came first….

10-year-old: …just that we understand what the chicken and the egg can give us today.

7-year-old: Dad really was onto something when he told us that.

10-year-old: He’s a very smart man.

7-year-old: A poet. A poet in the book of life.

10-year-old: And boy, what a handsome man.

7-year-old: And what a success! Now that I think about it, he’s not a father at all. He’s definitely a “dather.” A great, great dather.

10-year-old: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: We’re lucky.

7-year-old: Let’s hug.

10-year-old: Okay, but we can never tell Dad. Then he’d demand that we hug after every coarse word to each other.

7-year-old: Good thinking.

[They hug.]

10-year-old: Okay, see you after school.

7-year-old: Bye.

[This piece originally appeared on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.]

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