Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » September 2019 » “My Girl Rocks” by John Dethloff

“My Girl Rocks” by John Dethloff

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, a daughter teaches her kindergarten music class how to rock . . . 

My Girl Rocks
by John Dethloff

Apparently my five-year-old daughter told her kindergarten teacher that if she ever gets married she’s going to walk down the aisle to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells.” Apparently their music class had been sitting there on the floor crisscross apple sauce, listening to an organ rendition of Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus,” a.k.a. “Here Comes the Bride,” when apparently my daughter had up and decided for kindergarten girls everywhere that song would no longer do.

Now, mind you, my daughter fashions a headbanger’s length of hair down her back.

For her birthday party this year she’d chosen the “Girls Rock! Party Package” at Sweet & Sassy, complete with sequined costumes, dyed hair extensions, makeup and nail polish, a jam session, and dance off. To cap off the party my wife and I splurged on the twenty minute hot pink limo ride around our neighborhood. Our birthday girl and her ten BFFs poked their heads and they waved their fists out the windows, at passersby, in true rock & roll form.

Afterwards my daughter went all in for double-pierced ears. She wears sterling silver crescent moons and stars.

Princesses, she’d declared to us ages ago, are for preschoolers.

So, what was I expecting?

“Then you’ll agree, we have a problem,” her teacher told me.

After my daughter had climbed atop her desk like it were a stage she’d launched into those lyrics

I’m a rolling thunder, a pouring rain

I’m comin’ on like a hurricane

And from her back pocket she’d removed her iPhone, which, at her elementary school, was supposed to be left in her cubby for emergency purposes only—a stranger danger, an active shooter. She’d cranked up the song from her playlist. She’d gripped her iPhone like it were a microphone. Her charcoal colored AC/DC t-shirt, the one with the bell emblazoned on it, was purchased at Target.

“This is her third occurrence,” said her teacher. “That’s why I wanted to talk to you rather than email you as before.”

Our parent-teacher conference was almost through.

While I sat there in the classroom I could picture it: my daughter atop her desk, singing, while her class swayed there beneath her. Obviously her teacher had lost control.

“Maybe I should meet with her mother,” her teacher said.

“My wife’s more of a Joan Jett fan,” I replied. “AC/DC, that’s on me.”

Her teacher didn’t find the humor in that. “Your daughter simply cannot keep interrupting music class.”

“It’ll never happen again.”

“Do you know what she told me? When I finally stopped her?”

I had an idea. My family spent our Friday nights watching ’80s rock videos on YouTube. My wife and I relived our youth. My daughter sang and danced. One weekend we’d tried the ’90s, but those songs were more dismal than I’d remembered, and their time had died. Meanwhile, the ’60s and ’70s required too long of an attention span for a five year old. Those 1980s—those were the sweetest spot.

“She said if she gets married, it’ll be to whoever she wants. It’ll be to a boy or a girl.” Her teacher, situated behind her desk, blinked at me, now. “And if she gets married, and if it happens to be to a boy, she’ll walk down the aisle to ‘Hells Bells.’ She was very adamant. She wants a big bell behind the minister. She’d said she wants it to gong.”

“My girl,” I said, “she sure likes to rock.”

“And if it’s not to a boy, if it’s to a girl, instead, she said Cindy Lauper.”

I said, “‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun,'” silencing my smile.

“Listen,” her teacher said, “I’m not teaching sex-ed. I teach kindergarten music. I capital D Do Not Care. I just don’t want her interrupting class anymore.”

“Thanks for bringing it to my attention,” I told her.

“I’m glad we’re on the same page. Have a good weekend, then.”

“You too,” I told her, then in the front office, I picked up my wonderful girl.

In the parking lot, on the way to the car, I said, “No AC/DC tonight. That’s your punishment.”

My daughter buckled herself in. “How about Guns N’ Roses, instead?”

Peering in the rearview mirror, I started the car. I found Appetite for Destruction among my playlist and I put on “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” I told my daughter I’d be proud one day to walk her down the aisle to whatever music she desired. I drove us home.


JOHN DETHLOFF lives in Houston with his wife, two daughters, and their rescue dog, who runs the household from the living room sofa. He’s writing a novel-in-stories about the energy industry, 21st century fatherhood, and old-fashioned, Trumpian misogyny.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Sep 17, 2019

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,