Favorite family tales to share once again
Sleep deprivation. Loss of privacy. Kids who blurt out weird or insightful things in public. Family communications that go horribly awry.
These are the stuff of family life and the stuff that has made Fun House, a weekly column of anecdotes written by Advertiser readers about their lives, one of the 'Ohana section's most popular features.
Since the column was launched in October 2000, the stream of comic and poignant stories from readers about their children, spouses and other family members has been constant, with more submissions arriving than the Advertiser can publish.
As had been promised throughout last year, here is a selection of Fun House contributions that were printed in 2001, favorites named by a panel of Advertiser staff members: Saundra Keyes, editor; David Montesino, managing editor; Elizabeth Kieszkowski, features editor; Bob Krauss and Lee Cataluna, columnists; and Esme Infante Nii, assistant features editor.
The selections below are in no particular order, but they all point up the lighter side of family life.
Rico Leffanta, Waikiki
My children were marvelous. Put them to bed, read them a story and they would sleep through the night until their mother woke them the next morning with one exception.
One night, there was a terrible thunderstorm that shook the house. I heard my daughter's bedroom door open, and I listened to her quietly tiptoe down the hallway to our bedroom. I pretended to be asleep so she would think everything was all right and return to her own bed, but she stood by the side of the bed for several moments. I could feel her breath on my face.
Then she carefully lifted my left eyelid, bent over, and whispered to my eye, "Papa, are you in there?"
Joyce Almeida, Waimanalo
The day before the new semester was to begin, my two 9-year-old grandsons were having a discussion regarding their new teachers.
Joey said, "I'm so happy that I'm getting Mrs. Hamilton."
"Which one is that?" David asked.
Joey said, "You know: the really, really nice teacher who used to be the librarian."
"I don't say this to be mean," David then said, "but trust me, Joey, once they get the hang of it, they change."
Judy Counce, Honolulu
My daughter, at 5 years old, had a 6-year-old male playmate across the street, and they would take turns visiting each other's home to play.
One day, he asked for her telephone number and told her that he would call her.
Later that day the phone rang, and he asked to speak with her. She seemed to be having a fun time talking to him.
Then she said, "You sound so different on the telephone, Dean. Let's hang up, and I'll call you, and then you tell me how I sound."
Needless to say, I still laugh about this.
Deneitra Hutchinson, Mililani
My friend Renee and I were discussing how to teach our preschoolers to say "the magic word" "please" when they wanted something. But Renee said she had to switch from calling it "the magic word" to "the polite word."
Why the change?
Her son, Max, received a magic set for his fourth birthday. Then his aunt and uncle visited from the Mainland, and Max wanted to show off his magic skills. But there was a problem: During his magic tricks, when Max's aunt said, "What's the magic word?" Max would wave his magic wand and say, "Please!"
Renee realized she needed a different approach. She began teaching Max that "Abracadabra!" is "the magic word" that every good magician needs to know.
Then, Renee taught Max that "please" is "the polite word" to say when he wanted something.
This didn't work as well as she had planned, however.
A few days later, Max asked his aunt for a cup of juice. His Aunt Pam, unaware of his vocabulary lesson, asked Max, "What's the magic word?"
He replied, "Abracadabra!"
Janet Ah Mook Sang, Mililani
If you have young children, you must understand that no matter where you go, your children will find or follow you. Once, I had decided that I needed some time to myself and went into the bathroom and locked the door. A few seconds later, my 6-year-old daughter was knocking on the door and pleading to be let in.
We have two bathrooms, so I knew that if she had to go, there couldn't be a problem. So I said, "Mommy is busy, I'll be out in a second."
After numerous attempts on her part (pounding, pleading, etc.) she finally gave up, and it grew quiet for about a minute.
All of a sudden there was another knock, and in the deepest voice she could muster, she said "Mommy, this is Daddy. Let me in!"
Ed Gans, Kailua-Kona
I was home for just a few days between business trips, enjoying my fathering time with the kids while also trying to catch up on house and yard chores. Some potted palms needed planting, so I asked my 5-year-old daughter if she wanted to come outside and help me. I knew she couldn't actually get a hole down in the lava we call soil in Kona, but I wanted her company very badly.
"Let's plant the trees together," I said. "You can supervise."
A pouting and disappointed look came over her face as her tiny back began to arch and her shoulders rose in frustration.
"Supervise?" she replied, "I don't want to supervise. That just means standing around and doing nothing!"
Leann Hardwick, 'Ewa Beach
My son is now grown, an airman stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, but I will never forget some of the funny and profound things he said when he was a child, around 5 or 6 years old:
One day after Sunday school class, he came home and asked me about the Holy Trinity.
Wow, I thought, how do you explain to a 5-year-old about something so complex?
"Well," I said, "it's like there are three of them, and . . ."
"I know," he interrupted. "God, God's wife and who else?"
Another time, I reminded him one day that it was my grandmother's birthday.
"How old is she?" he asked.
"I think 83," I answered.
"Wow!" he said. "That's on the way to 99!"
Not long after that, when he met a new teacher, I tried to explain after school the difference between "Miss" and "Mrs." His new teacher was a "Miss."
"Since she's not married," I said, "maybe you could marry her when you grow up."
"No way," he said. "She'll be dead by then!"
Frellie Aguada, Waipahu
My 3-year-old son had become quite fond of the movie "Toy Story," particularly the cowboy character, Woody. He even cherished his special underwear we recently purchased, which was decorated with little drawings of Woody.
But at our next restaurant outing, he decided to show off his prized briefs to our waitress. As she began to take our order, my son stood up on his booster chair, pulled down his shorts, and said, "Look at my Woody!"
Of course she thought he was referring to something else. My husband and I had no choice but to leave her a bigger tip than usual.
Cori Omura, Mililani
Editor's note: Our panel chose two of Omura's stories. Omura said she wrote this first story because it illustrated her aunt's "local-kine" way of trying to make a connection with an unfamiliar name.
Although we often have many stories about our young children, there are also many opportunities for joy and laughter at the other end of the spectrum.
I had an aunty who was in her 90s and lived in a care home. We visited her regularly, but she still had trouble remembering who I was, and it took the first 15 minutes of each visit to establish my family ties. It was also complicated by the fact that Aunty was a little hard of hearing.
Once, after we had chatted for a while, I got up the courage to ask her about her eternal destiny. I asked, "Aunty, do you know who Jesus Christ is?"
"Who?" she replied.
"Jesus Christ," I shouted, "Do you know who he is?"
She frowned and pursed her lips. Uh-oh, I thought, maybe I had offended her.
Then, her face brightened, and she turned to me and said, "What high school did he go to?"
Once when my daughter Kristen was 5 years old, she was working on a big coloring project, with all her crayons and markers spread out around her. When she was done, I asked her to put everything away.
To encourage her, I said, "Kristen, if you put away the markers, I'll help you put away the crayons." So I cleared all the crayons away, but Kristen still hadn't even started to put the markers away.
I said, "Kristen, please put the markers away!" No movement from her.
Exasperated, I said, "Kristen! The markers aren't just going to jump up and put themselves away, are they?"
"Oh, yes, they are, Mom," she said.
Then she leaned close to me and half-whispered, "They're Magic Markers."
To contribute your own funny, true story about your family, send it with your name, city and telephone number to: Fun House, 'Ohana Section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802; e-mail email@example.com or fax 535-8170. Enter as often as you like. Preference is given to stories of 200 words or less. Articles submitted to The Advertiser may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.