“She wants to dress up as Rainbow Dash for Halloween,” I explained to my wife about our four-year-old daughter’s request for a costume.
“What the hell is a Rainbow Bash?” she asked.
“Okay, first of all, it’s Rainbow Dash, not Bash,” I said in the tone of a petulant five year old. “A Rainbow Bash sounds like the after-party of a Pride parade. Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, is a Pegasus.”
“A what?” she asked.
“A Pegasus. A horse that can fly. They’re one of three species of horse that populate Ponyville.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
I inhaled. “Ponyville is a town in the land of Equestria. Canterlot, of course, is the capital city of Equestria. Anyways, Ponyville is where Princess Celestia sent Twilight Sparkle, her prize student, to study and learn from the interactions among the residents and thus learn more about interpony relationships.”
“I understood four words from what you just said,” my wife muttered.
“Twilight Sparkle is the main character,” I explained, my mind bubbling over with images of the magical land populated by idiosyncratic ponies. “She’s a unicorn. Unicorns have magical abilities.”
I nodded. “Of course. What do you think their horns are for?”
She shook her head dumbly.
“Anyways, Twilight Sparkle is sent to Ponyville, where she becomes friends with some of the other horse-like residents. There’s Apple Jack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash is a light-blue Pegasus who just happens to be the fastest flyer in all of Equestria.”
“If she’s just blue then why do they call her Rainbow Dash? Shouldn’t she be named Blue Dash?”
I looked at my wife, my eyes full of pity. “No,” I responded dryly. “She’s called Rainbow Dash on account of her cutie mark is a rainbow.”
“I am totally lost right now,” she mumbled, pressing her hands against the sides of her head. “So what does this have to do with Halloween again?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, I was just saying that she wants to dress up as Rainbow Dash, the light-blue Pegasus who speeds around, keeping the sky clear of clouds and maintaining the weather. And she has a pet tortoise that she named Tank.”
“Why wouldn’t she?”
I shrugged. “Fluttershy gave him to her.”
“A pony gave another pony a turtle as a pet?”
“Have you heard anything I’ve said?” I asked, throwing my arms up in frustration. “Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash are Pegasi, not ponies. Apple Jack and Pinkie Pie are ponies.”
My wife frowned. “What’s the difference?”
“I can’t believe that you’re able to show so little interest in your children.”
“What does that mean?” my wife demanded.
“Nothing,” I said. “Your older daughter loves this show, and it seems to me that a decent mother would take the time to learn a little something about the world of the show.”
“You know what a decent mother does?” she asked, her face reddening. “A decent mother goes out everyday to her job so that she can earn enough money to provide food for her husband and two daughters. That’s what a decent mother does.”
I shrugged. “A decent mother can probably do more than one thing.”
“That’s it,” she said. “I’m done.”
“So,” I said to my daughter later that evening, tossing a piece of freshly-made popcorn into my mouth. “Are we ready to watch My Little Pony?”
She shook her head. “No,” she answered. “I think I want to watch Daniel Tiger today.”
I paused to consider her reasonable request. “No,” I answered simply, shaking my head.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because you love My Little Pony, dear,” I said. “It’s important that we watch things that you love.”
“But I don’t think I love it anymore. I love Daniel Tiger. Let’s watch Daniel Tiger.”
“Why not, Daddy?”
I inhaled slowly, trying desperately to come up with an explanation that would clear up her confusion and leave her satisfied in my reasoning. “Daniel Tiger is dead.”
Her face crumbled. Her eyes flooded. A look of terror and panic. “No,” she cried, tears falling down her face.
I nodded sympathetically. “I’m sorry, sweetie, but it’s true. Daniel Tiger is dead.”
“What happened?” she howled.
“Cancer,” I replied. “But it’s okay. He’s gone to a better place.”
“Heaven?” my daughter squeaked, her tears collecting into a pool at her feet.
I shook my head. “We don’t believe in heaven, dear. Even if there was a heaven, which there isn’t, an anthropomorphic tiger who refuses to wear pants would never be allowed in. No, most likely his parents ate him after he died.”
“What?” she screamed, collapsing on the ground.
“It’s sad, honey, but nature can be a bitch sometimes,” I said soothingly, shoving a handful of popcorn into my mouth. I chewed loudly, silently congratulating myself on handling this delicate moment so well. “So, whaddya think? You wanna watch My Little Pony now?”
My daughter pushed herself up off the floor and ran upstairs to the comfort of her bedroom. “Suit yourself,” I yelled after her as I started the episode. “More popcorn for me.”
Matthew Pasulka is a former early elementary school teacher who is now a stay-at-home father to two little girls. In his spare time he likes to write and hide behind a locked bathroom door for hours at a time.
Photo: Hina Ichigo