I wrote this after a long stretch when my kid was going through his “Dora” phase. Oh, how I hate Dora
Saturday at 10:00am. Every Saturday. He hated this. Did that make him a bad person?
He drove to his daughters house, grimly chain-smoking in silence as he contemplated this larger issue. The divorce was, in many ways, a blessing. He was eating better, going to the gym.. he even met someone, they were on their third date. Her name was Angela, she drove a Civic.
Even after everything, he didn’t hate his first wife. She was a sweet girl and they remained cordial through the proceedings. He was hit with huge alimony payments which he didn’t even bother to contest, much to his lawyers dismay. After all, she got stuck with his daughter.
She got Dora.
Dora. He shuddered internally. In the most tucked away places in his head, the places he didn’t go, he could admit he despised her. It wasn’t her fault she was one of 16 million children born with craniosyntosis – a relatively benign disease that sadly shaped her head like a football. Anyway, it wasn’t even that part of it that bothered him. He wasn’t shallow, he could love a child with a football shaped head and freakishly contorted, massive eyes. No, it wasn’t that. It was the rest of it.
When she was 5, they had her tested, thinking her grotesque, misshapen skull had also caused her to have developmental problems. But all the tests came back negative. Except for her enormous troll-head she was in every other way “normal”. Normal, whatever that meant.
He pulled up to the house where she sat, waiting, on the porch. She was wearing the same thing as always, that orange – pink combination that set his eyes on fire. The omnipresent backpack was along for the ride. At least she wasn’t bringing that stupid howler monkey with her. Last time she brought him, it bit the back of his elbow. He was strangling the life out of it – Boots, she called it – when the tears seeping from her thick, moon-sized freak eyes brought him back from the brink.
She climbed in the car.
“Hi honey” he said, forcing a smile.
“Ola Daddy!” she replied cheerfully.
Ola. Him and his wife were born in Canada. Fucking Dora and her Spanish. “Ola” he replied dutifully.
“Where are we going?” She asked.
“Oh, I thought we’d go to the zoo today” she was always talking about animals, and again, she loved that filthy howler monkey, so he figured this would be a win.
“The zoo!” shrieked Dora. “Magnifico!!”. Again. Never so much as sniffed a Spanish country. Could not point Spain on a map that literally only contained Spain.
“How will we get there?” she asked. This was her favorite part. He knew what was coming, he just didn’t know how to stop it.
“We just drive down the -” she interrupted, as she always did
“If there’s a place you need to go, I’m the map. I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m THE MAP!” she sang happily, irritatingly.
“YOU’RE THE MAP!” he yelled with forced cheerfulness, hoping he didn’t seem manic. “You’re the map” he repeated more calmly. “I gotcha. You’re the fucking map”
She stared at him, shocked. “Mommy says you shouldn’t swear”
“Mommy says I shouldn’t drink either” he replied tersely. God, let this day be over.
They drove in silence for awhile.
“Daddy, how do we get to the zoo?” Christ, she just wouldn’t let it go.
“Like I said Dora, we just head down the 401 to the 404 and then we’re there.”
“401. 404. Zoo”. she clapped excitedly. “Daddy, say it with me! 401. 404. Zoo. 401. 404. Zoo! 401. 404. Zoo! 401. 404. Zoo! 401. 404. Zoo!”
He struggled not to swerve the car into oncoming traffic. “Boy Dora!” he grinned “You sure have a great sense of direction. Please don’t talk anymore for the rest of the drive, okay sweetie?”
“Do you know where the 401 is Daddy?” she asked irritatingly.
“We’re on it right now Dora” he said through clenched teeth. “We’ve been on it for 15 minutes.”
“WE DID IT!” she clapped. “WE DID IT! WE DID IT! WE DID IT! WE DID IT!” she sang at the top of her lungs.
He nearly cried with frustration “Dora, please shut up? Just for like 5 minutes? Daddy.. Daddy’s had a rough, long day”.
“Daddy, maybe we should get something from my backpack?”
Jesus wept, he thought. “No Dora, let’s just leave your backpack out of this. That… that doesn’t make it better, ever”
He flipped on the radio and concentrated on the road, hoping to mute her bleating to sweet, sweet background noise. He knew how this day would go. She would spout the same repetitive phrases over and over again. She wouldn’t stop. It would get worse and worse. He wished her cousin Diego was here. He was also irritating, but made her marginally more bearable. Being with her, even for 1/2 a day hour was worse than agony. It was the same thing, over and over again.
Saturday at 10:00am. He wished he was dead.