USE YOUR WORDS
By Matt Park
As I write this, my daughter Cassandra and my wife Amy are having a conversation in the bathroom.
Cassandra: Daddy pees out of his finger
Amy: Well, no. That’s not right. Your daddy pees out of his penis.
Cassandra: Yeah… he pees out of his butt.
Amy: No, sweetie. He doesn’t pee out of his butt. He pees out of his penis. We don’t pee out of our butts.
Cassandra: Daddy has a big butt.
Amy: OK, Cassandra let’s talk about something else.
You can’t make this stuff up. My daughter was an early talker. In her daycare class, she was way ahead of the other kids. She was talking about numbers, colors, and animals while they were still saying “Daddy,” “Mommy,” and “More,” or “No.” I was so proud. I still am, but during the past few months I noticed our conversations were turning into the surreal and ridiculous. Here is one we had a few months ago while we were looking at the street from our bedroom window.
Me: What do you see out there?
Cassandra: I see cars.
Me: Yes! That’s right. What else do you see?
Cassandra: I see a lady walking her doggy.
Me: Yes! Yes! That’s great! I’m so proud of you. You are so smart.
Cassandra: I see him.
(At this point there is no one on the street.)
Me: Where? I don’t see anyone right now.
Cassandra: I see him. He’s waiting for us.
(She points to a dark window in an apartment across the street.)
Me: There is no one in there.
Cassandra: Yes. I see him. He sees us. You are going to see him soon.
Freaky. She’s not always talking about invisible people in dark windows or her father peeing out of a finger. I remember when she first told me she loved me.
Cassandra: I have something to tell you.
Me: What is it?
Cassandra: I love you so much.
If that doesn’t melt a cold heart. I don’t know what will. She’s also body shamed me.
Cassandra: Daddy, what are you doing?
Me: I’m just changing my shirt.
Cassandra: Please cover your big belly. I don’t want to look at that.
Me: Cassandra, that’s not a nice thing to say to someone.
Cassandra: I don’t want to see your big belly. It’s scary. I don’t like it.
Ouch. Time to go on Whole30. For the most part, it’s been great listening to her figure out this weird and chaotic existence through words. When I am with her I am reminded that being alive is a joyful, frightening, and strange experience. And sometimes when she talks, she just cracks me up. I’m going to leave you with a conversation she had with Amy while they were at a toddler yoga class.
Cassandra (pointing to the yoga teacher): Mommy, who is that old grandma?
Amy: That’s our teacher.
Cassandra: What’s her name?
Amy: Her name is Anna.
Cassandra: Oh… Anna… Does she have a daddy?
Amy: Yes, I’m sure she does.
Cassandra: I know his name.
Amy: You do? What is his name?
Cassandra: His name is Vagina.
Matt Park is a songwriter, guitarist, poet, and actor. He co-wrote music for Ma-Yi's production of Peer Gynt and the Norwegian HAPA Band at ART/NY in the winter of 2016. He played lead guitar in Diana Oh's My Lingerie Band and performed in My Lingerie Play at The Rattlestick Theater in the fall of 2017. He is 1/2 of the band CUTE with Diana Oh and co wrote 24 Punk with her which was performed at The New York Musical Festival, Joe's Pub, and The Bushwick Starr. He is currently working on orchestrations for Rebecca Lee Lerman's Heartbreak Hotel which is being works shopped at the Tank and Gallery Players in the winter/spring of 2019.