Family Role-Playing and Unexpected Events

Last night was quite possibly the most surreal parenting night of my life; Tonight was likely the second most.


Yesterday, my youngest daughter kept badgering me for money for her Scholastic book order. And my step-daughter kept petitioning on her behalf. Together, they were working to erode Dad’s Deaf Wall of Apathy™. At the same time, my middle daughter smelled blood in the water and pounced; She wanted to have friends over for a make-up birthday party. Dad’s Deaf Wall of Apathy™ was wearing dangerously thin.

So, in a flash of brilliance or fool-hardiness, I made them schedule an appointment with me. The youngest was slated to petition for books at 7pm; The middlest would plead for her party at 7:15pm.

As the minutes slowly passed, the youngest repeatedly asked “Can I have money for the books?”

And I replied, “I can answer you now, or you can wait until our appointment. If I answer you now…”

She’d hastily interrupt with an “Oh, I’ll wait.”

As the appointment drew closer, I decided that I would put on a tie (something I very rarely wear) and conduct the appointment in as professional manner as I could muster. As I crept upstairs, I overheard the girls. They too were getting dressed up for their appointment. The game was on!

At 6:55pm, I instructed Jenny to call me at 7:05pm to interrupt my meeting. Then I waited, and informed those waiting on appointments that I wasn’t ready.

At 7pm, I let the girls begin to plead their case. They were passionate, and explaining the case for each of the books. With a bit of back and forth banter, I agreed and wrote the check.

At 7:15pm, the middle child approached. And this was a bit more delicate of a situation. I dismissed her retinue and we talked in earnest about her request. I broke down the schedule, and we talked about what she was thinking. We eventually agreed on a date.

And then all hell broke loose. By this time, the girls were emboldened, and brought Jenny in to see, in their terms, “The Love Doctor.” At this point, the youngest opened a barrage of energetically delivered questions, the first one being “How’s your love life?”

Jenny and I played along, as best we could, considering we were talking to with our 9 and 11 year old children. My heart warmed when the youngest said “You should buy Jenny flowers, like roses or peonies.” Afterall, peonies are Jenny’s favorite flower. And here, my daughter had called out something important to her step-mother.

But the Love Doctor wasn’t done, and my youngest went on to suggest that I should take Jenny out to a fancy restaurant. And from their, the children all agreed that they would make us a fancy dinner the following night, and would be the wait staff for the family restaurant.

Eventually, the Love Doctor was sent off to take her bath, and we were given a reprieve.


With some help from Jenny, the girls prepared the food for this evenings dinner. They were busy cutting potatoes, making hors d’œuvre, preparing menus, and formulating their plan.

When I got home from work, they forbid me to enter the kitchen or dinning room, and went so far as to force me to wear ear plugs so I couldn’t hear them planning a romantic candle light dinner for their parent and step-parent.

When the food was ready, they had us wait to be seated, and ushered us into the dining room. The table was set, with silverware wrapped in napkins, candles, flowers, wine glasses, and even little bells for us to ring if we needed anything.

Jenny and I had a relatively quite dinner where we talked and caught up on our day. All the while, the children were checking in to see if we needed more water, or were interested in seconds. The girls even offered and then made brownies for dessert. They were also quite gracious in helping us eat them.

And to top off the evening, we played a short game of Mouse Guard. But, to be honest, the autumnal exploits of the Spitler-Friesen-Frech family are far more memorable than a handful of mice delivering the mail. In fact, I’m fairly certain, that my initial “conflict” with the youngest resulted in a cascade of complications that ultimately wove the tail of a wonderful story.