In honor of M. starting school Wednesday, here are some stories about the kids.

As promised, I will now reveal the curse word that C. has been using from time-to-time.

When I drop something, knock something over, etc. my default curse is “Dammit.” I’ve learned to more mutter it than exclaim it since becoming a father, so I say it in a low voice, often through clenched teeth.

Not too long ago, I noticed when C. would drop something, knock something over, etc., she would make a strange growling noise. When I paid more attention, I could tell she was saying, “Dammit.” Not only repeating my words, but mimicking my delivery. Impressive, and also kind of funny.

M. prefers to take Jesus’ name in vain, again mimicking her old man. One day I caught C. doing something stupid like standing on tupperware to try to get something off the kitchen counter she wasn’t supposed to have. As I rescued her just as she was tipping over, I dropped a J-bomb. For the next few minutes M. hopped around saying, “Oh C., Jesus! Jesus, C.! C., Jesus!”

As long as neither one is dropping f-bombs I can handle it.

C. has undergone a bit of a personality change recently. She’s started throwing more fits, is suddenly afraid of things that didn’t used to bother her, and occasionally bursts into tears for no apparent reason. It’s like she’s 16 or something.

But, she’s also become quite bossy. One night a couple weeks back, after I had put the girls to bed, I heard commotion and craziness on the monitor, so I headed upstairs to settle them down. I opened the door and was greeted by the stench of a loaded diaper. C., who was running around the room like a maniac, raced to the door and shouted, “Dad, I have poopy diaper!” Then, very dramatically, she rotated her hips so her bottom was facing me, stuck it out, pointed at it, and shouted, “Change it!”

Well ok then.

She’s also commanded me to “Get it!” when she wants certain toys or something from the fridge, and to “Read it!” when she’s brought me a book. I may start telling her to “Shut it!”

A couple Fridays back, we took the girls to the city pool in the late afternoon. After school starts here, they don’t open the pool until 4:30 since so many of the lifeguards are students. The late opening time and a Friday combined to leave the pool as sparsely populated as we’ve ever seen it. So M. was amazingly confident and adventurous. We got her to go down the toddler slide over-and-over, and even go down the bigger slide a few times with S.. We got her a flotation suit that she was excited to use. We strapped it on, and I took her into the biggest, deepest pool. After about three minutes, she proudly told me that she wasn’t afraid of water anymore. I told her that was great and the first step to learning how to swim. She then insisted that we take a lap in the lazy river, something she’s hated all summer. Then, just before we left, S. sent her down the big slide alone. She wasn’t thrilled with the turn of events, and there were some loud protests. But we thought it was a great way to end the summer.

Until we got home and put the girls to bed.

She had nightmares almost all night. We’d hear her screaming things like, “Mom, don’t push me!” and “I don’t want to get wet!” She screamed at least five times that night. So perhaps she wasn’t as cool and comfortable as we had thought. She also yelled at C. not to take her duck at one point that night, so it wasn’t all about the pool. Most of my worst dreams involve being in deep water, so I guess it’s genetic.

Any parent that had Disney DVDs knows the familiar opening sequence where Tinkerbell flies around the Magic Kingdom. For some reason, M. calls her Dinglebell. “Dad, is Dinglebell coming up? There she is! There’s Dinglebell, Dad!”

S. took M. in for her four-year-old check-up last week. The doc explained that he was going to look inside her underwear for a second and asked her to bend her knees like a frog. When she got home, she told me, “Dr. Tom said I have frogs in my booty.” I’m glad I hadn’t just taken a drink of something, because it would have been expelled immediately.

One last thing about C.. We’ve been impressed by her big imagination, no doubt the product of having a big sister and having parents that let her watch TV. Sunday morning, she came running into the kitchen with a shopping bag over one arm. It was crammed full of stuffed animals and toys. She got my attention and said, “Dad, I going on field trip. I going to a farm. I going to see animals!” Then she ran into the dining room and called for me. “Dad, dere id iz! Dere da farm! I see horseys and cows and piggies!” She was pointing at our dining room chairs as she identified the animals. No idea how she came up with field trip.