Since I was technically on vacation until Thursday, I devoted this column (in absentia) to updates on a few previous entries, with thanks to several readers.
All I want for Christmas ...
My daughter can now officially drink through a straw with her mouth closed.
She finally lost those two wiggly front teeth in mid-July. We’d been anticipating this for months, ever since her baby teeth started moving apart under pressure from the permanent teeth making their way to the surface.
The first came out fairly easily, but the second hung on for days, sort of dangling by one corner in the middle of her mouth. She looked like a pirate.
Finally I couldn’t stand it, and we decided she should just pull it out. Voila! A completely new look.
Though she’d lost three teeth before, these were the ones that changed her smile. Gone were the precious little pearls of baby teeth. The new ones poking through looked huge by comparison, complete with those ridges at the bottom that eventually wear away with time.
Suddenly, she looked her age of nearly 7. She was a big girl.
All it all it was fairly momentous, and Tara the Tooth Fairy was ready. She had heard, through their ongoing correspondence, about my daughter’s special ring that had been damaged. It wasn’t anything expensive, just a piece of costume jewelry my husband had found on a trip, but my daughter treasured it because it was sparkly, and it was from him. Somehow it got left outside, stepped on and broken. The jeweler said it wasn’t worth repairing, and at least one piece was never found.
She was crushed. When Mom and Dad couldn’t fix it, she asked Tara to try. Fairies (contrary to popular belief) can’t do everything, so Tara replaced it with another inexpensive crystal ring from her favorite fairy discount store.
My daughter was thrilled and immediately wrote back a note of thanks. That night, admiring her new ring, she marveled at how Tara had come through.
“It’s so pretty,” she said. “But I still like Daddy’s better."
Several readers said the initial column about Tara the Tooth Fairy (June 8) brought back fond memories of that precious time in their own children’s lives.
Ken Gilbert noted that another item on the same page that day focused on the results of a teen sex survey.
“That article reminds us that the sense of magic is over in a blink of an eye, and then we find ourselves to be parents of 15-year-olds who are having to decide if they are going to use rhythm or contraception to prevent pregnancy,” Gilbert wrote in an e-mail. “My grandfatherly advice is enjoy every minute of the magic.
"It is all that wonderful bonding with the kids when they are young enough to be full of magic that allows us to get our kids through adolescence without ... well without doing something that we would later regret.”
Phineas and Ferb: The Sequel
Readers also responded to the column earlier this year (April 27) about my kids’ favorite TV show, the cleverly written “Phineas and Ferb.”
Grace Rist of Bloomington, one of the other adults who is hooked on the show, pointed out that I neglected to mention one of her favorite characters, Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, famous for her singsongy question to the boys each day: “Whatcha doin’?”
As it turns out, Isabella was named after the oldest daughter of one of the show’s co-creators, Dan Povenmire.
In an e-mail, Povenmire told me that “Whatcha’ doin’?” was one of the first lines he wrote for Isabella, but he didn’t know then it would stick.
“It just matched the drawing I had done. I don’t believe I was even thinking about it as a catch phrase at the time, although she did say it twice in the pilot so it was a runner from early on,” he said. “My own girls are a constant source of inspiration because the series is basically the embodiment of a child’s imagination, and that is something they have in spades.”
Jane Dobbles of Danville wrote to ask about the setting for P&F, the fictional town of Danville. She wondered about the connection and whether it was in fact in Illinois.
Povenmire said Danville is simply named after him, just as Jefferson County in the show is named for co-creator Jeff “Swampy” Marsh. He said it’s similar to Springfield, the everytown used in “The Simpsons,” because there are so many Springfields and Danvilles across the country.
“It exists wherever in the country we need it to,” he wrote.
In various episodes, in fact, it is both a short driving distance from the ocean and Mount Rushmore.
“Although I did live in the Champaign/Urbana area for many years as a child, I never made it out to that Danville, nor have I been to the one in Northern California or any of the others to my knowledge,” he added.
In the show Danville is in the Tri-State Area, the oft-mentioned target of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz’s evil schemes. In one episode, Doofenshmirtz appears to reveal the location of the Tri-State Area on a map, with a magnifying glass poised near the Denver area.
More trivia: the Tri-State Area was founded by John P. Tristate, who united the Bi-State Area with an adjacent area founded by Otto H. Adjacent.
It also includes Paul Bunyan’s Pancake Haus, “where the food is good. But not too good, eh?”; the Superduper Mega Superstore, “52,637,000 acres of unbridled consumerism all under one roof”; and the ever-helpful Inventors Emporium.
Probably more than you wanted to know, but we aim to serve.
News-Gazette columnist Julie Wurth writes about kids and families in The News-Gazette every other Tuesday. Leave a comment below, or contact her at 351-5226, firstname.lastname@example.org , or on Twitter.com/jawurth.