No one said being a good director would be easy. Or in this case, a good father.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold, but I do own Phillip, Stella and Miles. Take that, Nickelodeon or in these days Sickelodeon!
The Show Must Go On!
"I can't work with dat man!" Three-year-old Stella Shortman shouted, stomping about in the kitchen and pouting. She had her father's personality, eyes and hair, but her mother's stubbornness, nose and head. No matter what she tried to say to her father, he wouldn't listen. No way was she going to act like that in front of her friends. The truth was she was too shy to sing in a group of people especially if the song was 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider'.
Her father, Arnold rummaged through his hair in frustration, feeling like they've gone over this a hundred times. "Stella, sweetie, you're not relating to your lamb. You have to listen to the lyrics. The lamb follows you everywhere you go." Arnold informed her. "You're very attached to it."
Stella tilted her tiny head in confusion. She just couldn't follow to what her father was saying. "I don't get it."
"The lamb's co-dependent, honey!" Her mother, Helga called from the other room.
Stella smiled again and nodded her head. "Oh," She understood. Arnold raised one of his brows at how his own daughter seemed to understand his wife better, but shrugged it off.
Arnold, along with Helga volunteered to direct and produce Urban Tots Preschool's new production, Mother Goose's Broadway. Arnold was assigned director and Helga was assigned the producer. Stella was very proud of them both... or at least she was with him.
Over the next few days, Arnold got a little too carried away with the directing and it no longer became fun with Stella or the other kids. Helga noticed, but she didn't want to say anything to make him feel bad. It was just a play with small and sensitive children... who cry when they see Arnold coming.
"Please, Stella, you have to learn your lines. How else are people going to know what the play is about? Now let's take it from the top." Arnold pushed her.
"It's no use, Daddy." Stella began to cry. "I qwuit!" She yelled, running upstairs to her room and slamming her door.
Arnold had a face of hurt plastered across his face, but it soon turned into anger. 'She can't quit! After all that we've pushed her through? Okay, after all that I've pushed her through.' He rolled his eyes. 'I know Helga didn't play any part in this (No pun intended).'
Arnold found his way to the living room of their beautiful house and saw his award winning author of a wife, sitting in one of the chairs and sipping from a soda can. Her blonde hair, making a long trail down to her butt and wearing a white short-sleeved T-shirt and black jeans and matching tennis shoes. Her pink bow she still kept, but wore it as a tie when going to work. Her bangs covered one of her eyes.
"I can't believe your daughter is that hard to work with. I just hope she doesn't hate me after this." He rubbed the back of his neck. "What do you think, Helga?"
Helga didn't bother to look up and then began to sing a familiar tune from a famous Dr. Seuss story. "You're a mean one, Football Head..." She sung with Arnold scowling at her in annoyance. "You really were a monster..."
"Helga, cut it out." He scolded her.
Helga stood up from her seat and walked closer towards Arnold while she continued to sing. "You yelled at your own daughter and it's her ya wanna slaughter, Football Heeeaaad!" Helga sang a finale, smirking at her husband.
"Now she won't even go near you with a 39 1/2 ft pole." She finished, taking a bow with no clapping of the football headed audience. "Hey, I'm pretty good." She placed her hands on her hips and smiled proudly.
Arnold however, wasn't smiling while he held his head up, bored out of his mind with Helga's singing, his eyes half-lidded. "Are you finished?" He asked, annoyed.
Helga nodded her head and smiled. "Arnold, aren't you taking this a little too seriously?" She asked.
"Absolutely not." He stared back at her, only to find her crossing her arms and looking sternly at him. "Well, you know how I wanted to get involved." He fought back.
"Yes, I know, but you are working those poor kids to death, especially Stella." Helga pointed out. Arnold scoffed and walked away with Helga following him. "I'm telling you, if you don't stop pushing her, Stella's going to grow up to resent her father." She warned him.
"No, she's not."
Helga rolled her eyes, seeing how stubborn Arnold was being. "You know, this was supposed to be a fun experience. Now, all Stella wants to do when she comes home from rehearsing is just crash on the couch. I only started doing that when I was fifteen when they scheduled football practices after school then."
"Please don't remind me." Arnold said, flatly. "And in case you didn't hear about the update, Mrs. Producer, Stella just dropped out of the play. Where am I going to find another person who can sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider as cute as she can?" He asked before turning to Helga and rubbing his chin, a sly smile on his face. "Hmm..." He wondered.
Helga caught on to what he was thinking and put her arms out in defense. "Don't even think about it, Football Head. And besides what does a producer even do anyway?" Helga asked, feeling completely unfamiliar about her job.
"The producer makes sure everything is in working order and that the script is easy to work with." He explained.
"Oh," Helga piped, innocently twiddling with her fingers. "And can the producer fire the director?"
"Yes," Arnold said, suspiciously.
Helga turned her face away from him and yelled out a silent yes.
"As easily as a husband can divorce a wife." Arnold got on to her.
Helga stomped her foot on the ground. "Nuts." She hissed.
"And on the other hand, what kind of a child would resent their own parent?" Arnold ranted.
Helga scowled at him. "I did." She said through clenched teeth. Growing up, it seemed like she wasn't good at anything but make her Big Bob mad at her. It went on until she was about thirteen.
Arnold's eyes widened, showing he forgot his wife had the same problem and smiled sheepishly at what he just said. "Not that you weren't adorable." He charmed, making her insides boil. She shook her swoons off in anger.
"Helga, the point is I worked too hard on this play and I'm not about to let a three-year-old girl flush it down the drain."
Okay, now that was the final straw.
Helga stood up to his level, even though he was inches taller than her. She knew she was small, but her voice could drown out anybody. "Arnold, you are not allowed to have her feelings right now!" Helga shouted, pointing her finger up to the stairs. "There's a little girl upstairs who needs you. Her confidence in her father is shaken and no little girl can be happy unless she has faith in her daddy!" Nobody knew that better than her.
Arnold turned his head way from his wife in shame and looked down at his shoes. She was right. The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt his little girl and be just like his father-in-law even though he did change. "I only wanted her to be the best." He confessed.
Helga looked him in the eye. "Then why are you down here telling me this instead to her face?" She asked, softly, walking away from her husband and leaving him alone with his thoughts.
"You're right." A voice said softly, causing Helga to stop and turn on her heel to face the person who said it.
"What did you say?" Helga asked, raising one of her brows.
Arnold said it louder. "You're right, you're absolutely right."
She smiled, loving it how sweet those words rolled off his tongue. "You... you think I'm right? Wow, you never think I'm right." Helga blushed, feeling bubbly.
Arnold rolled his eyes at how ridiculous his wife was being. "Yes, I know. I'll hang myself later, but right now I need to go upstairs and tell my little girl something that can save our relationship. No girl of mine is worth losing over some silly play." He smiled.
"Wait, let me just... I just.. wanna take in this moment." Helga covered her mouth almost crying. "Is this what smart people feel like all the time? Is this what Phoebe feels like all the time? I can't believe-"
"Helga!" Arnold yelled, crossing his arms over his chest, interrupting her.
"All right," She sneered. "Go get her, Hair Boy." She cheered him on.
"Wait here, I'll be right back." Arnold called back, jetting up the stairs.
"Waiting!" Helga piped, sounding a bit like Phoebe.
The twenty-five-year-old man tapped on his daughter's bedroom door. "Stella, honey, Daddy wants to talk." He said, hoping she'll open the door.
The door creaked open and behind it was a little girl who looked startled, her eyes puffy from crying. She opened it wider for her dad to come in and he did. She sat down on her bed, not looking her father in the eye.
Arnold knelt down on one knee in front of her and took each of her little hands in his. "Oh, Stella, I'm sorry I was such an ogre." He lifted her chin up to face him. "I didn't mean to push you so hard. Look, you're more important to me than any silly play. It doesn't matter if nobody loves you. All that matters is that I still love you." He said, sincerely. "I'm so proud of you whether you go on or not."
Stella leaped into her father's arms and cuddled into his neck. "Thank you, Daddy because I weally don't wanna go on."
Arnold stood on both legs and nearly knocked Stella down on the bed. "ARE YOU INSANE?" He shouted. "The house is going to be full, we got critics out there and the whole show rests on your shoulders!" Arnold caught himself before saying anything else when he saw his daughter's face turning into a frown. He sat down indian-style. "I'm sorry, that wasn't the right thing to do." He spoke softly. "Oh, seetheart, it's just that you worked so hard on this show and I really think you could be brilliant."
Stella looked down. "I'm sowwy, Daddy. I just can't." She whimpered.
Arnold settled with her decision. "Okay, Stella, if that's how you feel, but no matter what happens, the show will go on and your little classmate Andrea knows all your lines. She'll take your place."
'Andrea? That crayon stealer?' The three-year-old's eyes widened at this and she scowled in determination. "Over my dead body." She leaped down from the bed and out of her father's way. "Hold da curtain! MAKE UUUUUPPP!" She cried, running out of her room and down the hall to the bathroom.
Arnold smiled at this and stood on his legs. He ran downstairs into the kitchen. He noticed Helga standing in front of him, smiling also and he came up and hugged her. "Helga Pataki-Shortman, you are the sweetest." He grinned, kissing her forehead.
"I know, right?" She paused, looking up at the ceiling in a dazed look. "What'd I do?" She asked, confused.
Arnold chuckled at this. "You did what every producer's and mother's job is: Making sure everything goes nicely." He said.
Helga rubbed her nails against her shirt. "That's why I'm the producer." She smugged.
"Whatever you say, Helga."
Awww. The End