How to Annoy Your Child


It’s dinnertime and Daniel’s turn to pick the destination.

“Where do you want to go to eat?”  I ask.

“Burger King,” replies Daniel.  I back down the driveway and shift into DRIVE.

“Burger Queen, huh?”  I say, “Well, okay.”

“Dad…” warns Daniel, eye lasers heating up.  “It’s called Burger King.”

This is a little game I invented, mostly in self-defense.  I call it “Push Daniel’s Buttons”.  We turn the corner and make a left at the retention pond in the center of the subdivision.

“How about Burger Prince?”  I ask, trying to maintain a straight face.  This is key to getting a reaction.

“Da-ad…” says Daniel.

The object of the game is to get “Dad” stretched out into as many syllables as possible without Daniel actually exploding.

“We could even go to the Burger Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince.”

I thought it was pretty good, but apparently I was the only one.  I don’t get a “Dad”.  Strike one.

“How about Burger King?” he says finally.

I ask, “You don’t want to try Burger Chief?”

“Dad, let’s just go to Burger King!”

I make a left and head out of Farmington Fields.  Traffic is slow going into town.  There are not many cars, but the ones that are there tend to drive below the speed limit.  There’s plenty of time left on the clock.

“What about Burger General?”

“Dad…”

“Burger Sultan?”

“Da-ad!”

“The Burger Meister Meister Burgher?”

“Da-a-ad!!!”

Daniel’s nose is crinkling now.  I wait for the stoplight by the bank to turn green for my lane, so I can head down the main street of Belvidere… ironically not called Main Street (that’s two blocks over).

“We could always try Burger Dictator,” I say.  Daniel’s face clears up.

“What’s a dictator?” he asks.

Oops.  I might have overplayed my hand.

“A dictator is someone who is in charge of a country without being elected,” I explain.

This play could make or break the game.  Daniel smiles.

“So, a Burger Dictator is like a Burger King!” he says triumphantly.  I laugh.

“Nope, dictators don’t have to transfer their power via family members,” I respond.

“Rats,” says Daniel under his breath.  He knows he’s been skunked.

“I know,” I say.  “We can go to Burger President!”

“Da-a-a-ad, we are not going to Burger President!”

“Burger Senator?”

“Da-a-a-a-ad!”

“Burger Congressman?”

“Da-a-a-a-a-ad!!!”  Daniel is bright red and practically foaming at the mouth.  “We are not going to Burger Congressman or Burger Senator or President!  We are going to Burger King!  You hear me?!  Burger King!!!

We’re sitting at the red light by the Piggly Wiggly.  I look at him for a long moment.

“Well, why didn’t you say so?”  I say finally.  “You only had to tell me.”  Daniel smacks his forehead with his hand and shakes his head.

“Sheesh!” says Daniel.  “To get what you want these days, you have to go nearly crazy!”

We cross the river and head towards the row of fast food restaurants.

“So, we’re not going to Burger President,” I say.

“That’s right,” says Daniel.

“And we’re not going to Burger Queen or Senator,” I say.

“That’s right,” says Daniel.

“We’re not going to Burger Congressman or Prince or Sultan or Generalissimo,” I say.  Daniel growls a bit.  I ignore it.  “If I see a Burger Pope on the side of road, I’m going to just drive right by.”

“Da-ad…”  I hold up my hand and cut him off.

“Nope, we’re not going any of those places.  We’re going where Daniel wants to go.”  Daniel nods warily at the news.  I put on the blinker to pull in the parking lot.

“Next stop, Booger King.”

“Da-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ad!!!”

Burger Something

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