My Political Dynasty

Like Joseph Kennedy, I’m working to build a political dynasty.

When DJ announced that she was seeking the position of Student Body President at her all girls’ school, I wondered where she found the confidence to put herself out there like that. I guess she thought she had a chance to win. At that age, I would have simply pondered the potential to lose.

She put together a cracker-jack campaign committee with representatives from all the grades. She handed out home-baked cookies (the whole family helped decorate them), and bacon. Yea, we got up at the butt crack of dawn one morning, cooked bacon and shoved each piece in an individual baggie with her campaign slogan written in Sharpie marker on the Ziplock.

“Why are you handing out bacon,” I questioned.

“Do you like bacon,” she retorted.

“Yah. Everybody does.”

“Well there ya go.”

I gotta give it to her. It worked. Plus, she had a really good speech.

I can already see her in the White House. She’s pretty good at problem solving.  And, her sisters would say that she’s mastered bossing others around.

A few weeks later, Michelle followed in her footsteps by running for Secretary of her middle school. This was her speech:

Roses are red, my granny is swell,

If you want a good secretary, vote for Michelle!


I am an honest girl, never committed a crime,

I’ll be prompt, and I’ll get to the meetings on time.


I am not very good at basketball, I can’t really dribble,

but when I take notes I am neat, and I do n’t scribble.


Student council sells biscuits, they’re only a dollar,

I’ll serve them hot, and you will holla.


I’ll be quick with communicating, I won’t be slow,

I’ll work really hard to keep you in the know.


I am very dependable, don’t worry about me,

If you vote for Michelle, you will see!


I could see her being the Ambassador to Spain in her future. Don’t they just throw parties and stuff?

And the middle kid? Well, the Peace Corps might be in her future, Stephanie has such a heart for serving others – she sincerely cares about people.

This is her on a mission trip attempting to demo a ceiling:

I’ve been told that tearing out ceilings was not her sweet spot but that she can spread insulation like a champ!  Talk about confidence, this kid left home to go to New York with 30 other teens, most 3 to 4 years her senior.

I was pondering their recent accomplishments as I opened their report cards this past week.  When I was their age, I was solidly churning out B’s and spending my free time watching Gilligan’s Island.   I would have no more run for office or gone on a mission trip without my best friends than I would have hang glided over the Grand Canyon.

They may get their humor from me, but I think the rest of their genetic makeup came straight from their mom.  Wish she was here to see all this.





I Don’t Give a Spit About Your Bracket

Some have asked me, “What happened to Uncle Jesse?”

He’s still in Raleigh and in and out of the house a couple of times a month.   On the occasional Saturday morning, he’ll call and ask to speak to one of the girls.

“Dad, can I go to lunch with Uncle Jesse?”

That’s code for:  We’re gonna hit the Kanki Japanese Steak House.

I’m cool with him taking them there.  Although I like the food, it does a number on my innards.  And, I always leave the place smelling like deep-fried chicken.  Instead of a night out with dinner and a movie, when Kanki is involved, it has to be dinner and a shower.

“Hey you guys, let’s meet at Kanki for dinner and then hit the Y for a group shower?”

Jesse also continues to be the producer for the Dave Glenn Show on 99.9 FM.  It’s your “statewide home for sports talk.”  Jesse pulls in all the cool music, lines up the interviews, mans the phones,and  holds down the Facebook and Twitter accounts.  He knows more about sports than I know about eyebrow waxing, and that’s a lot.

On the side, Jesse makes these interesting videos and uses them on different venues through the sports and media worlds (what I’m really saying here is I don’t know why he makes these videos or what he does with them).

The other day he popped by and he and Michelle came up with this ditty.  In NC, NCAA basketball is HUGE, even for a non-sports fanatic like me.  Enjoy the music!

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Miss Hootie Tootie, at it again


Cotillion is going to kill me.  We have homework this week.  Michelle has to write an essay about the manners of one of her teachers.

“Dad!  I don’t know about my teachers’ manners!  I don’t see them eat and stuff.  What am I going to write?”

“Well, I guess you could say: ‘My grammar teacher seems to have good manners.  She generally sits correctly and I’ve never heard her burp out loud.'”

I can’t help the kid.  Although all of her teachers seem fairly polite, I too would have a hard time writing a paper on their civilities.

And now, I have to find a white dress for her to wear to the Cotillion Ball.  Where in the heck am I gonna find a white dress?  Oh, and not just any white dress, it has to be “tea length.”  What is that?  Tea is not a measurement, it is a drink.  Is there a lemonade length?  A cherry Kool-Aid length?  A Red Bull length?  Who comes up with this stuff?  Miss Hootie Tootie?

I asked someone, “What is tea length?”  She said, “It comes above the ankles.”

So I said, “Oh.  High-waters.”

So, I need this high-waters, white dress by March.

I went to Target – NOTHING.  I went to Costco – NOTHING.

I found one online at a fancy pageant dress shop.  It was $295!  I ain’t spend $295 on a dress that she’s gonna wear once.  Plus, I couldn’t figure out her size.  It said to measure her bust (I don’t think she has one yet), her waist (got that one), her hips (again, none at this time) and measure “Hollow to Floor.”  What in the heck is Hallow to Floor?  Is that from her mouth to the ground?  Her nostrils?  They’re the only hollow things I see on the kid.

I also figure I need to buy something that isn’t too fluffy.  There’s that boy who, when he dances, holds all the girls by the elastic in their underwear.  I don’t want to throw him off.

Oh, she has a red dress.  Maybe I could just bleach it.  I’ve done that a ton of times with other articles of clothing.  That stuff seems to just suck the color out like a tic on a scab.

Geeze, I bet I’m gonna have to hand write the RSVP too.  Better dig out the Miss Manners book.  Had to do that last week for a function for Stephanie.  She is so wise.

“Dad, isn’t this tea required?”


“Then why do we have to RSVP?  We don’t RSVP for school do we?”

I think my daughters might need to live in West Coast when they grow up.  They’re never gonna make it in the south.

By The Underwear

Michelle, my Co-ti-llion!

Michelle, my Co-ti-llion!

Sometimes as a parent, all I have to do is ask one, simple question and the information starts pouring out.

“Michelle, how was cotillion today?”

“OMG!  I was dancing with this guy and we were shagging, you know, to beach music.”


“He went to turn me and his coat button got stuck in my hair!  It wouldn’t come out.  It was so embarrassing.

Then, this other boy I danced with kept counting out loud.  1, 2, 3 – 1, 2, 3.  Like he was saying it where I could hear him.  I mean seriously?  It was so annoying.

And one boy I danced with was tiny.  He only came up to my chest.  He was soo cute.”

“Yeah.  Maybe don’t tell him that.  Guys usually prefer to be big and handsome.  Not small and cute like Moosey.”

“Yeah.  Oh, but Kimmey danced with a boy and he hung on to her underwear.”


“It was sooo funny!  He grabbed her waist and held on so tight that he had her dress and her underwear in his hands!  But don’t tell her mom.”


“AND THEN, the boy I was sitting beside right before snack time asked me if I could run fast.  When I asked him why he wanted to know, he said he wanted to be the first one at the snack table because he didn’t like to stand in lines!  I was NOT RUNNING, in a DRESS, at COTILLION, to get Ruffles potato chips and stale cookies!  Dad, that boy really needs this class.”

“Sounds like it.”

“They taught us to sit like girls today.”

“Mmm.  How’s that?”

“You cross your legs but at the bottom, not at the top.”

“Why’s that?”

“I guess you cross your legs so you don’t show anybody your underwear.”

“Makes sense.  Might make that boy want to grab ’em huh?  What’d he look like?”

“I don’t know, but I didn’t dance with him.”

“How do you know?”

“Because no one held me by my underwear.”


Purchase Danny’s Book:  Laughter, Tears and Braids

New York


Since Michelle didn’t go to Camp Seafarer this summer, she’d spend several weeks with grandparents and we’d take the money we saved for a sitter and invest in an inexpensive trip – just the two of us.  With racked up airline miles, the only costs I’d bear would be the hotel, food and entertainment.

We decided on New York – one of my favorite places.  Not cheap, but I am!

How we saved $$$:

1.  Stayed at the roach motel – book late, great deal. 


  • The shower was like being sprayed down by a fire hose.  “Michelle, stand back.  This showers gonna sting a little.  You got any open wounds?  Good!  Jump in.”
  • The room had apparently been the previous home of a drug bust.  The screws on the safety lock were dangling out of the woodwork – clearly the victim of an NYPD midnight intrusion.
  • Lots of cars backfiring???  Just pretend you left the TV on and there’s a Starsky and Hutch marathon running all night long.

2.  Carry your own bags.

“Michelle, when the bellman offers to carry your bag, tell him you’ve got it.”

“But dad it’s heavy.”

“Do you want to leave the tip out of your allowance?”

Everyone in New York wants a tip!  A big reason to live in the south.


  •  Angry stares from the hotel staff.
  • Hail your own cab on the way back to the airport brother!
  • No response when you report the broken safety lock.

3.  Subway or walk.  No taxis.

Unfortunately, Michelle inherited her paternal great grandmother’s aversion to germs.

“Michelle, hold on to the pole, not my waist.”

“Dad, I don’t like to touch stuff down here.  It’s nasty.”

As soon as we got to our destination, wherever it was, she’d ask me to go wash my hands.  We’re going to work on that prissiness.

I also noticed that my cute kid in a pink Lilly dress with a white monogrammed bow in her hair sort of stood out in the NY crowd.  One of these things is not like the others…


  •  Possibly a virus.
  • I could have been beaten up.

4.  Cheap attractions.

“I want to see the Statue of Liberty!”


“Dad, does this boat stop on the island?”

“Nah – this is the Staten Island Ferry.  Just look real hard, she’s over there somewhere.  We’ll get to see it again when we turn around and ride back.  Daddy got us a double tour.”

Activities for next to nothing:

  •  Teaching her to read a Subway map.  Took up lots of time!
  • Visiting the store Mood in the Garment District.  They sell ribbons for your hair, thousands of them – some are $2.50 a yard.  1 1/2 hours – check!
  • Macy’s – have to buy some back to school clothes anyway and they give a 10% discount to out-of-town customers.
  • Split a phat piece of NY cheesecake!  $8 and good eatin’.
  • Hot Dogs at Bark – a great, inexpensive restaurant in Brooklyn.  Takes a while to get there, but once you’re on the subway, you might as well ride (just wash your hands before you eat.)


  •  None that I can see.

We did do some stuff that cost money.  We saw Matilda and went to the Top of the Rock at night and both were fantastic.

The looks on her face as she experienced the city were priceless:  the edge of her seat in Matilda; her mouth wide open at the top of Rockefeller Center; her eyes bugged as she entered the ribbon room at Mood.  I’d pay $10,000 to see those again.

As much as I love Manhattan, the highlight of the trip had nothing to do with New York.  It was spending time with my kid, just us – laughing and discussing life.

Now I have to figure out a way to do the same with the other two.




Just Michelle and Me


Since the other two girls have been at camp for what feels like 8 months, Michelle and I have had a great deal of one-on-one time together.  Tonight I said, “Your sisters come home next week.  I can’t wait!”  She responded, “I don’t want them to come home.  Don’t you like just our time together?”

I’ll have to admit that although I can’t wait to see DJ and Stephanie, spending time with Michelle is nothing but fun!

Last weekend we were in the car together for hours.  These were some of the topics we covered:

Clouds:  “Dad, at Science Camp today we learned about clouds.”

“Oh.  What did you learn?”

“Well, water evaporates and goes up into the sky and makes clouds.  They get bigger and bigger and then when they get really, really full, they pee.”

“Excuse me.”

“Yeah.  They pee.”

“Your teacher said they pee?”

“No.  That’s just what I call it.”

“So when I’m outside and it’s raining, I’m really getting peed on?”

“Yea.  By a really full cloud.”

Chic Fil A:  “Dad, if you were gay, would you work at Chic Fil A?”

“Why do you ask?”

“I saw on the news that the owner doesn’t much like gay people.”

“Hmmm.  I guess I wouldn’t.  But I sure like their chicken.”

Jokes:  “Dad, know what rhymes with spoon?”


“No.  Spoon.”

Music:  We played a little Selena Gomez, we played a little Prince.  We like each other’s music.

When one album cover popped up on the iPhone, I heard, “These guys look sketch.”

“Who is it?” I inquired.

“These Doobie Brothers.”

She was right, they did look sketchy.

Bathroom habits:  “Dad, boys have it easy.”

“Why do you say that?”

“They just have to stand to go to the bathroom.  Did you know that Mae (her grandmother) wraps toilet paper around the seat AND hovers?”

“She hovers?”

“Yea.  All girls hover in a public bathroom, but Mae uses toilet paper too.”

“Why won’t you just put your bottom on the seat?”

“That’s gross!”

“You touch door handles after other people have touched them.  It’s all just skin.”

“It’s your BUTT skin dad.”

Fast Food:  “Dad, if you could pick a fast food Dream Team, what would it be?  And you can only choose one item from each restaurant.”

“Let’s see… I think Wendy’s burgers, McDonald’s fries, and a Chic Fil A milkshake.”

Now that’s a worthy conversation!

Port Your Bra

Annie Dance

Did you know that King Louis the XIV of France loved ballet?  He established the first official school for the dance, known today as the Paris Opera Ballet.  That’s why all of the dance terms are in French.  I know that because over the past two weeks, I’ve spent five hours observing my daughters’ dance classes.  It happens every May, parent observation days.

It should have been seven hours but DJ told me she’d do a grande jete on my head if I showed up to watch her dance.  After the other five hours, I think I could have taught her class.

When I picked DJ up after her observation day, she said, “There were some other parents you knew who were there.  You really looked bad for not coming.”

At that point I wanted to jerk a knot in her echappe!

One afternoon I observed from 5 – 7 pm.  I hadn’t had lunch that day and was starving.  The ballet instructor kept tantalizing me:  “Everyone, it’s time to fondue.”  But no food ever came!  She’d say “Saute!”  Again, no food.  It was dinner time, why would you say we were going to fondue and then not produce?  I was about to start gnawing on the ballet barre!

Her words were confusing to me.  At one point she started talking about their underwear:  “Port your bras” or something like that.  How do you port your bra?  Wouldn’t we need to be on the coast?  She kept calling for “Sue-sue,” but she never did come.  “Run to John,” she yelled several times, but there wasn’t one boy in the class.  Who was she talking about?

The woman is a good teacher, but I don’t think she’s that smart.  She doesn’t even know Pig Latin.  For some reason, she didn’t want us to know she was telling them to balance so she tried to disguise the term like a parent would in front of a young child.  But she got it all wrong.  Instead of dropping the first letter and putting it on the end, “alancebay,” she said, “balance-a.”  We all knew exactly what she was talking about.  Em-barr-assing!

I’m thinking about opening my own studio next fall.  But we’re going to use regular words that normal, English-speaking kids can understand like:  squat,  poke your toes out in opposite directions, jump like a duck, make the shape of a Krispy Kreme doughnut with your legs.  And when we talk about food, there will be some.

A son at last

Many years ago I was on a staff retreat in the mountains. The topic of the retreat had to do with developing your personal mission statement. For one of the activities, we were required to find a place and sit, in total silence, alone for an hour. All we could do was think.

For an extrovert and someone who is a bit hyperactive, that was quite a challenge.

I went out on the front porch of this old inn where we were staying and plopped myself in a most comfortable rocking chair. I do like to rock – sort of puts me in a trance. As I looked out toward the enormous purple mountain in front of me, thoughts seemed to easily swim in and out of my head.

At one point, I had a fairly vivid vision – it was that I would have a son.

My vision must have been a bit too many brussel sprouts ’cause it did not come true……until last week.

When we returned to the car after our first fitting for costumes in A Christmas Carol, Stephanie was snickering and Michelle was pouting.

“I didn’t get a long cape this year nor did I get a top hat. Quite disappointing.  I’m the bobby.”

“Yeah dad, but you get to carry the night stick! That’s pretty cool.”

“You’re right about that, plus I have a badge on my helmet! Did you guys like your costumes?”

Stephanie quickly chirped in, “I looove mine! Michelle, tell dad about your costume…”

“You just love it don’t you?” Michelle replied. “I’m a boy. A stinkin’ boy. All they do is burp and fart.” Her voice was getting louder, like Ralph Kramden in the Honeymooners, “What do I know about being a boy?”


Me with my daughters and son.

“Just embrace it Michelle. The mark of a true actor is being able to play any part, especially one of the opposite sex.”

My argument wasn’t helping.

Two days later I made a huge mistake.

Michelle came down to breakfast about to jump out of her skin.

“Why are you so excited?”

“Today is the day we find out who gets to play Mary in the Christmas pageant at school! I mean, I don’t really care if I get it or not, I just want to know.”

“Ahh, I’m a little worried honey.”

“About what dad?”

“Well, I’m afraid Mr. Farmer may have found out about the part you’re playing in A Christmas Carol. I think he might cast you as Joseph.”

As Stephanie nearly choked on her cereal in laughter, Michelle reared her fist back and smacked me in the stomach.

“How’s that for a boy?”

The punch was delivered in jest – well, sort of – it had some gass. But I guess I deserved it.

Michelle has actually accepted her new role. One of her good friends is also a boy so they’ve created a secret boy handshake, and they hit each other in the shoulder and stuff.

I will say when the photographer took her picture for the play poster, he found me after the shooting. “You may want to toughen that boy up a bit! He sits just like a girl!”

I think I have my work cut out for me.

Merle Norman…

I wasn’t privy to the decisions about ear-piercing when Lisa was alive.  No, she was the one who made that decision.

Although she was Presbyterian and believed in baptism at birth, that was not her view on pierced ears.  There would not be a Tanner kid with piercings until at least a decade of their life had passed.  She thought it made them look too grown up.

When she was nine, DJ nagged her mom for a year for the lobe holes until finally, Lisa and her gaggle of women friends decided that ten was in and the countdown began.

I’m not sure how these moms came about that decision, but they unveiled their calendar as if they were the Misses Manners of preteen etiquette.  Not only did they determine the appropriate age for piercing, they also informed all involved as to the appropriate age for a Facebook page (12) and the point when a cell phone was needed (the start of middle school).  No one dared ask for an exception.  The Mother Mafia had spoken.  I believe they actually signed a treaty with one another and apparently a full on embargo would be imposed on anyone straying from the agreement.

When it was time for DJ to get her ears punctured, Lisa drove her to Crabtree Valley Mall and met another mother/daughter pair at the entrance to Merle Norman.  That is where Lisa had her ears pierced approximately 25 years prior.

DJ desperately wanted to wear earrings, but she also desperately did not want a hole punched in her ear.  She apparently sat on the piercing stool three times, chickening out as Merle approached with the lobe stapler.  Finally, Merle had had enough and kicked her out of the store.  DJ then threw the most massive temper tantrum my wife had ever seen right at the main entrance to Belk.  Lisa literally carried our ten-year old to the car and locked the doors because DJ threatened to jump out of the minivan and run back into the mall.

Stephanie’s journey toward earring mecca was very different.  She turned ten four months after Lisa died.  She reminded me that DJ got her ears pierced at age ten and asked if she could too.

I actually thought it was a law in Raleigh, and I didn’t want to break the treaty – so the two of us hit the mall quickly.  It was four months after Lisa’s death.

Sweet Stephanie was so excited!  Her father was so very, very sad.  As she patiently waited looking at her barren lobes for the last time in their handheld mirror, I fought back tears.  It was one of the first milestones I had tackled by myself.  What father takes his daughter, alone, to have her ears pierced?

I suggested the silver balls; her mother only wore silver.  She agreed.  There were tears that June night, but not from the kid.

Well today it was Michelle’s turn.  I had avoided the subject because I knew the costumer in A Christmas Carol frowned upon jewelry in the play.

“There were no piercings in 19th century England!” she announced last year as a warning to those who were bejeweled.

But when one of her best friend’s moms inquired about a joint trip to see Merle, I just couldn’t turn her down.   It’s sort of a rite of passage – one that can’t be denied.  So now my baby girl has her ears pierced.

I’m beginning to see something different in my daughters.  No longer are they 100% kid.  Now I see glimpses of young women.

I wish Lisa could see what I see – the slight changes coming month by month by month.

I will take it all in for her.


Michelle’s birthday was Monday, so a few weeks ago I planned a small sleepover for just a couple of her good buddies.  It was one of those five friends or 22 sort of deal.  I’ve done 22.  That’s why we settled on five this year.

Jesse joined us for dinner at a local Italian restaurant.  We only had one spilled drink.

Jesse continued his run as the reigning “Waiting For Dinner Tic Tac Toe Champion”.  We played retaurant Truth or Dare during dinner.  There was a little bubble blowing via straw via nose action, and my dare was to walk into the Ladies’ restroom.  I knew it was a one seater so was fairly certain if the doorknob opened, I was golden.  Thankfully, I was right.

A sleepover wasn’t good enough though.  I was also told by my youngest that Kimmey’s mom always had an art project when they went to her house.  Our sitter suggested painting pumpkins.  I obliged – picked up six last weekend at the Farmer’s Market.

Michelle didn’t really want a cake, so we agreed on s’mores in the outdoor fireplace.  Oh, and we had to have a movie from the Redbox.

Waffles were required the next morning because Mr. Gibbler aways cooks a “BIIIG breakfast” on Saturdays (he also happens to fall asleep at 8 p.m. every evening – no wonder he has the energy to cook frickin’ waffles at dawn).

I was prepared.  All pieces of the night came across without a hitch.  One of Michelle’s friends even said, “Mr. Tanner, you have really nice paintbrushes.”  Take that Mrs. Gibbler!  Kickbutt paintbrushes – oh yeah!

Thankfully Nana had purchased Halloween tattoos and candy for the “bridesmaids'” gifts.  Yeah – come to my house, I buy you dinner, feed you s’mores, watch you for 15 hours, walk into the women’s bathroom for your amusment, and as if that is not enough, I feel a sick obligation to give you a gift for coming.

Who came up with that?  I wish I knew – because I would like to choke them with a satin ribbon and toss their body into a large silk gift bag.

When picking up the next morning, one of Michelle’s friends’ moms offered to take her lunch on Monday at school – sort of a special birthday treat.  I am thankful for the mothers who offer to do things for my kids while at the same time making sure I understand the norms of motherhood.

“Michelle, do lots of the kid’s mom’s eat lunch at school with them on their birthdays?”

“Yea.  And they also take a Special Snack for the class.  You were going to do that weren’t you?”

“I signed up to bring Special Snack on Friday because that’s the day of the week that your class always has Special Snack.  It was the closest Special Snack Day to your birthday.”  I was so proud of myself for my strategic Special Snacking.

“All the other kids have it on their birthday.”

“Of course they do.  I’ll just Speical Snack on Monday and Friday this week.”

“Some moms stay and help serve the snack.  Then we sing happy birthday.”

Perhaps I should just take the whole week off.  I wonder if this could be considered FMLA.

“Oh, and don’t forget, Jackson is allergic to tree nuts.”

“Tree nuts?”

“You can’t pack a snack with tree nuts. Jackson is allergic. He could die.”

I could envision the carpool line now, moms standing everywhere:

“Did you hear? School had to call EMS today.”

“Ooo. What happened?”

“The widower – you know, Michelle’s dad?”

“What did he do this time?”

“Nearly killed Jackson…”

“Tree nuts?”

“Un huh.”

I poured through the ingredients listed on the boxes of goodies I’d purchased for homemade trail mix.

What in the heck is Riboflavin? It’s in everything.

Nah – can’t possibly be tree nuts in Riboflavin…

Ahhhhhh –

“Hello. Umm.  This is Danny Tanner.  My daughter Michelle is in Jackson’s class. Well, this may seem like a silly question – but, well, is Jackson allergic to Riboflavin?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Great! Tell him Michelle says hey.  Goodbye.”

I just wanted to be sure.

So, Michelle, I’ll drop you off at 8, bring tree nut free Special Snack in at 10, pick up some yummy nuggets at 11:15 so I can eat with your sister at 11:30 (wouldn’t want anyone in the family to miss out on the action) and stay the full hour so I can eat with you at noon.”


I sort of wondered if it was gonna be worth all the trouble – I mean…she’s turning 10.  This ain’t her wedding day.

But when I saw the look on her face as we proudly walked down the hall to her classroom, arms piled full of Riboflavinated treats, I sort of remembered. Been a long time since someone helped make me feel that special.

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