Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Dad And His Daughter

Yesterday Serge taped strips of horrifically ugly black foam around the fireplace while I secretly scoffed and rolled my eyes behind his back. This singular act is evidence of our very different parenting styles. Serge frets about every possible accident that could occur. Oh my god, what if she stands up, turns at a 45 degree angle, slides sideways for two feet and wedges her body next to the window and the bookcase? We've GOT to take down this bookcase!

Me? I figure the kid has to learn the hard way.

Don't want her climbing around the fireplace? Let her bonk her noggin a couple times and she might learn. But Serge, well, he's in for a rude awakening the first time she bloodies her knee. If he gives her a chance to fall down.

He's an anxious, proud, intense papa to be sure. And last weekend I caught a glimpse of just how intense he can be.

It was a sunny Saturday so we decided to head to Liberty Park. It's the Central Park of Salt Lake City. Kind of. Okay, not really, but it's all we've got dammit so let us have it. We were roaming around with Violet, swinging, splashing in water fountains, the whole Good Parent drill.

After about an hour and a half of Good Parenting Violet begins to fuss. Nap time. But wait! Out of the corner of my eye I spot a carousel spinning on the other side of the playground. After such a rousing carousel success earlier in the summer I figure we should give it another go in our effort to become Parents Of The Year. So we pull Violet out of the water fountain and begin the trek over to the carousel.

Violet starts kicking and screaming at being pulled away from the water fountain and then she whips around and sinks her Chiclet teeth into Serge's shoulder. She's a biter, that one. When she gets really upset she squinches up her nose, bares her teeth and tries to clamp down on the nearest object. She likes fingers and hands but a shoulder'll do in a pinch. When Serge or I jump out of the way she gets so mad she just has to bite something and puts her own hand in her mouth and chews until she realizes that, um, OUCH! I'm biting myself.

So she's chomping Serge's shoulder like some angsty teen in the Twilight movies and he's giving me the I'm Losing My Shit Take Her Right Now look. I take her. Serge says he's done, let's go home. I say no, I want her to ride the carousel. Serge says the carousel looks haunted and I agree. Then a ride near the carousel whirs to life.

It's a bunch of airplanes spinning in a slow circle.

"There." I say. "Let's do that one."

A surly, long-haired teen is operating the ride by pushing a button. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Although he's standing near the ride, he's anywhere but here. He's sneaking joints in his friend's garage, his hand is snaking up his girlfriend's torso, under the shirt, over the bra, he's playing a video game... anywhere but here.

Serge buys three tickets and we approach the teen. "How much to ride?" Serge asks. "One ticket." Surly Teen mumbles. "Can I pick out which airplane she rides?" Serge wants to know. Surly Teen shrugs.

Serge, carrying Violet, circles the ride like an inspector. The biggest decision of his day. Which airplane will go down in history as Violet's first ride?

After an embarrassingly lengthy amount of time during which Surly Teen probably makes it to third base with his girlfriend in his mind, Serge decides on the shark, of course.

He straps Violet into the plane and exits through the gate. I dig my camera out of my pocket and make sure I'm ready to take video. I'm nervous. Not sure how Violet will react. Will she cry and try to climb out of the shark, turning us into the parents you feel bad for when their kid freaks? Or will she thrill us to pieces by digging the ride?

Surly Teen pushes his button and retreats to his mind's eye again, probably attempting the slide to home plate. I press record on my camera and wait for the sound of Violet's cries. Instead I hear the shrieks of someone else.


Serge materializes from the other side of the ride, clapping and shouting instructions to Violet like a drunk parent at a Little League game. "WOOOOOOOOO! GO VIOLET GO! STEER THE PLANE! RED BARON! WOOOOO! WOOOOOO!"

Dear god, I think. He's one of those. I'd never seen him in the throes of full-blown spectating dad action until now. I try to focus on Violet because she's actually enjoying her ride. She's smiling! She's completing her first full turn, and is headed back to me, where she started from. The shark plane she's piloting is just passing dad who's still shouting and clapping and oh sweet Jesus is that what I think it is?

Yes, yes it is.

He's making airplane sounds. Really loud airplane sounds.

I try to ignore the shouting, spit-spraying, giddy, crazy man and get ready to zoom in on my baby's sweet face when something catches my eye.

Serge, nearly frothing with excitement now as Violet's plane vroooms past him, breaks into a run. I swear to god, people, he begins sprinting alongside Violet's airplane. Past a woman with a small baby strapped to her chest, past astonished toddlers standing just behind us with their parents, Serge is yelling for Violet to TAKE THE PLANE HIGHER, TAKE IT HIGHER (it doesn't go up or down) and shouting incoherent words... DADDY VIOLET PLANE WOOOOOOOO! WOOOOHOOOOO! He flies past me, oblivious to everything except the little girl in the plane, clompy work boots pounding the cement like wild horse hooves, panting and yelling with excitement and honest to god I nearly pee my pants.

I barely have time to wonder if he's going to maintain this plane-side jog for the duration of the ride when he apparently realizes he's nearing forty and obviously can't sustain his sprint.

Serge stops running but continues with the hooping and hollering. I tell him to stand by me so I can record Violet's reaction to him each time she passes. But I - the amazing woman who endured nine months of horror and pushed this precious human being from my loins - don't exist to him. He has eyes for nothing but the little girl in the shark airplane.

It's a sweet moment, I realize, watching our daughter take her first spin on a real amusement park ride. "She loves it, Dad." I try to share the moment with my nearly 39-year-old husband who can't hear a thing over the fighter plane noises and machine gun fire emanating from his mouth. I mean, he done lost his mind, y'all. I make a few more comments that go unnoticed by my spouse as he regresses to five-years-old.

As I pan the camera around to capture Violet's excitement each time she passes mom and dad I say "I wonder who's having more fun, you or her?" But he's already gone, running again, making the machine gun noises.

Think I'm exaggerating?

Reader Comments (22)

this is the funniest shit i've read/watched all day....i love your commentary "look at this idiot

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpeach

Violet is adorable! I'm glad she enjoyed it...almost as much as Serge! lol

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelli

Hilarious indeed.
I love how I can hear the love for this big kid of a spouse radiating from your words.

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra E.

LOL funny... made my day! So very cute and odd and funny and perfect :).

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKali

Yay! We threw Wombat in those the day we hung out with you, and he was less than thrilled. (Not upset by them, mind you, just...bored.) Thanks for reminding me I need to put those dang photos up too.

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteragirlandaboy

I've been checking back here for 2 days now, waiting on this here story and you did not disappoint!.
Boy-O-boyachevitz that man-child of yours has got some kind of charisma. Does he own any GI Joes? You must get him some AND those Army guy boots. Monica, Your ability to set this up so well ( SO funny!) and THEN actually SHOW us the whole shabang in living color and sound is like having dessert after a good dinner.You two crack me up so bad!! Thanks for sharing that. It was worth the wait. Now I can sleep.

SHE is so cute but he stole the show! And you wrote the BEST story. Best Parent award pending.

Ha! I'm snorting.

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGina

The WW II fighter noises were freaking awesome!!

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

I always knew Serge would make a great dad one day! And guess what HE HAS! I remember how he would talk to Sofia and treat her! I am so happy you two have another little one on the way! Violet is beautiful and this little one that is coming will be beautiful as well. Sofia never met you Monica but she remembers Serge and loves to watch Violet growing up. I wish Monica you could have met her. Anyways....No's a beautiful thing and you kids will always be in our hearts! Congrats! And I hope Violet and the future Bielanko grow to be just as beautiful, wonderful and smart as Sofia. Sofia will soon take the reigns of shooting the ray guns from the top of the Empire State Building, Monica if you don't know what that means, I surely hope Serge does. I am happy for both of ya! They grow so fast. Faster than you will ever imagine. Sofia is 12 and 1/2 now while the internet was around blogging or this thing called facebook wasn't a big thing back then like it is now. Regardless, I tell her about people, remind her of who she has met, like Serge, she remembers, she remembers how he was towards her and she laughs and remembers just that little bit. I guess what I am saying is that little bit that we remember as a child can go so far even though we as adults don't think so but it does!. No matter what you guys always are in my thoughts and in (not proper english here) me and Sofia's soul. Thanks for being friends from afar it means a lot. :)

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug

Finally!! Been eagerly awaiting this post for ages, and it lives up to the wait, I was reading this, and in the back of my mind, I was thinking, mmm bet she keeps the video back for a few days, but no, THERE IT IS, as I scrolled down...not even watched it yet, had to write this first! As a dad, I think its wonderful that Serge is the way he is, and not sat way over there on his phone, or wishing he was at home watching the game or whatever those uninterested dads do, be proud, but CHROIST!! That was LOL FUNNY!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBluedan

Aw. LOVE a doting daddy.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbokker

I bet if daddy was let to sit next Violet he would take this chance too :) lovely! actually you're both great in this parenting story :)

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterana_jo

That was hilarious. Seriously I was laughing out loud at my desk. You gotta love Serge's enthusiasm for life!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVicki

the teeth on the plain were flat-out gnarly. nice clip there.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjohn cave osborne

or plane. the teeth on the plane. as opposed to plain, that is.

whichever you prefer, really.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjohn cave osborne

OMG I loved it....Violet is so lucky to have such a wonderful daddy!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

Priceless! Thanks for sharing.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I heart the surge

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkatie allison granju

Ohmigawd, Monica.

I actually had to get Out Of Bed because the strain from controlling my laughter was too much. That, and I didn't want to wake my husband with my silent laugh shaking the hell out of the bed.

I'mma just cross my fingers that my Pennsylvania man can keep himself under control when our baby girl goes on her first ride. I mean, she's only 364 days old - that's still a little young, right?

Maybe we'll just take her to the Renaissance Festival instead. Get her one of those little hats.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill Smyth

Or Idlewild. Yeah. That'd be better. Two hours in Storybook Forest might be right up her alley.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill Smyth

This? This was fucking hysterical. Thanks for making me guffaw. :-)

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

Solid comedy. LIttle cutie too.

October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Absolute gold. Wish the video still existed!!

May 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

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