I was handed the ‘cheese touch’ after a long and arduous day. A few of my children invited me to play the game ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ based on the book and movie by Jeff Kinney. The ‘cheese touch,’ a plastic orange-yellow holey slice of cheese, had little follicles like blades of grass. The follicles represented the wafting smell. I had not read the book. I had not seen the movie. The rules of the game were ‘long and arduous.’ Perhaps to be a wimpy kid is a complicated affair.
What up with the ‘cheese touch?’
A few days later there lay the book. I picked it up in search of a ‘cheese touch’ and found myself absorbed in its brilliance. My kids saw me reading it. My wife saw me reading it. I saw me reading it. Smiles and laughs. Laughs and smiles. The orange/yellow slice showed up in the black and white illustrations. The cheese sat flat on the asphalt of the school yard basketball court. No kid knew how long it had been loitering there evolving into a science project. No basketball was bounced there since its appearance. The moldy, pungent cheese became like a slice of cooties. One kid inadvertently made contact with it and instantly was leprous. Word spread quickly and pointing and running heightened the alert status to red. “Mikey has the cheese touch!
As I read, the thought of writing a book about the Diary of a Wimpy Dad surfaced. I used to keep a diary/journal thing. There are five or six dollar-store marbled journals in my closet, a good place for the ramblings of a teenaged twenty something boy-man. I thought maybe I should head to the dollar store…
In the diary unwimpy parents were slipped in. They weren’t perfect, but they engaged with their children. The dad especially impressed me. He jumped out of bed once in his boxers to bust the wimpy kid listening to contraband and consequences followed. There is growth to be had in this area of my ‘dad-life.’ Engagement doesn’t come naturally.
Our game continued that night and the cheese touch exchanged hands several times. Sometimes I feel like I wander around the house with a piece of cheese stuck to my forehead. My children don’t see it. They don’t run away screaming. It’s an apparition of my own dairy diary perception. Maybe that is why my dad would often sit in a corner and listen to Bolero on his headphones with a cheesy look on his face. I know his story of middle child neglect. Not only was my dad not heard, but often he was not seen as well. He had the ‘cheese touch.’
As we continued to pass the cheese I made eye contact with a couple of my boys. I didn’t want any of my boys stuck with the cheese. I wiped the cheesy look off my face determined to lay the slice of pungent neglect aside.