YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Wired like a kid

October 03, 2009|CHRIS ERSKINE

People are always asking, "What's the best part of parenthood?" To which I always reply, "The kids, probably."

What I like is when you're walking them to school and they grab hold of your arm like it's a giant tree rope. "Weeeeeeeee," they scream as they swing, lifting their grubby little sneakers off the ground. That's soooooo fun. You've heard of tennis elbow? I have children's elbow. Based on wear and tear, my shoulder sockets are 175 years old. My body remembers the Civil War.

So, yeah, I like kids. Know who I like even better? Me. That's fortunate. Because in our house, it's every dad for himself.

Posh? I like her even more (most days). The other morning my wife hooked up this tiny camera to the computer so we can have video conferences with our freshman daughter back in Hoosierville. I didn't see our daughter this much her entire senior year of high school. Now I see her twice a day.

"We should all dress up in goofy costumes," Posh says before our first video chat.


"That way, she won't miss us so much," Posh explains.

That's assuming she misses us at all -- I have my doubts. Though I do remember one incident from when we were back for Parents' Weekend. We were driving through an old section of town, and I remarked how strange it was not to see landscape lighting on every house, as in Southern California.

"Stop it, Dad," our daughter said. "I'm homesick enough."

"For landscape lighting?"

"Just stop it," she said.

Unbelievable, these kids. But, yeah, I guess she misses us a little. Meanwhile, we miss her a ton.

I won't pretend this is a good thing, college. I am proud that she has gone outside her California comfort zone, to a school challenging and different. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

Posh isn't much better. For the first few weeks after our daughter left -- swear to God -- the woman was pricing homes in Indiana.

"Look what we can get for 300 grand," she said.

"We could open a dairy farm," I said.

"I'm not joking," she said.

"Or a cow wash," I said. "How about a cow wash?"

"A cow wash!" screamed the little guy, who chortled till he vomited a little.

When Posh saw I was actually excited by the prospect of working closely with cows, she abandoned the idea of moving to Badger Grove or Wallace Junction, fine places both.

Instead, my wife has hooked up this little video camera, which perches on the monitor like a plastic sparrow. The picture is good, but the movements are kind of slurry. It's a little like those camera shots of the astronauts goofing around aboard the space station.

"Maybe she's drunk?" I said during the first telecast.

"HI!" yelled her little brother.

"HI BONGO!" she shouted back, using one of his many nicknames. (Bongo, Corn Dog, Sneezy and Opie are among the favorites.)

"HI SISSY!" he screamed again, then did a little rain dance of happiness, as if he'd just spotted his first angel.

It's a great age, 6. There is nothing to worry about. Even if you had worries, what could you do? You can't drive. You don't have an ATM card. Your congressman won't return your calls.

Yes, it's far too early for the little guy to be like his father, who worries about every little thing. The other day I was complaining about all the stuff that bugs me, including Schwarzenegger's accent, which seems to get progressively more Austrian with every passing year. Soon he will be completely indecipherable. It's like someone spilled Pepsi on his circuit board.

"I can't understand a thing that guy says anymore," I told Posh one night as the state swirled toward oblivion.

"Welcome to my life," she said.

Fortunately, I can still lose myself in parenthood. In a week or two, a bunch of us are headed to some pumpkin ranch -- hernia, turned ankle, sunstroke. The last time I went to a pumpkin ranch, they had to hook me up to an IV. It was after 5, so I think it was Mondavi.

"Chardonnay?" I asked the nurse.

"Pinot," she said.

"Hmmm, smoky, like oak," I said.

"Wanna try our Cab?" she said.

So I have that to look forward to again. And more of these video conferences with our daughter, who has gone off to Indiana and taken all our "Happy Hours" with her.

Thankfully, the video chats are becoming more interesting every day. They are like skits from the Leno show, only funny. The last one pulled an 18.2 share. It's the first legitimate hit of the new fall season.

"Big news," I told the little girl last night.

"What, Dad?"

"Your mother has joined the Cub Scouts," I said.

"She's a Webelo?"

"No, a Tiger Cub," I said.

"It's good she's found an activity," the little girl says.

We couldn't be prouder.


Los Angeles Times Articles