Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Alternative Universe

Too Much Change
Written by: Doug Fowler

A/N - personal: Someone else has lots of family issues - death in the family, being best man at a wedding, starting a project like the Chronology for his own family, helping his grandma - so with a few others I finished the Chronology. So, I wrote a bit more fanfiction, too, since I had time.

A/N - Story: Jesse told Michelle once he'd move out once he married ("Fuller House"), but if she'd heard him she'd have had questions Danny would have to answer. So, she probably didn't hear. But, what if she had, or someone reinforces it? Saving $1000 a month for a down payment (yes, even back then rent was that bad in the Bay Area) makes lots more sense than moving out, since Jesse had lost his job - though I won't argue with those who claim they could have moved once the twins were born and he had his record deal. Still, the one who likely had most trouble with change wasn't Michelle or even Jesse - it was likely Danny. Sequel to Who's In Charge Here?

"Yeah, I know, you're gonna miss me, munchkin," Jesse Katsopolis said as he cuddled his newly four-year-old niece, Michelle. She'd come in to wake him up. "But, you didn't mind when Joey and me were gone a couple days ago," Jesse and Michelle's dad's best friend, Joey Gladstone, had moved in to help raise Michelle and her sisters, Stephanie -almost 9 - and D.J. - almost 14 - after their mother, Pam, died. They ran their own ad agency and had been out filming in the woods for a couple days.

"I still missed you," Michelle said sadly.

Jesse sighed. "I probably shoulda told you when I knew you were asleep? Then you wouldn't have heard I'd be moving out when I got married. 'Course, D.J.'s nutty friend Kimmy started talking like I was goin' across the country," Jesse concluded, referring to D.J.'s dumb and annoying best friend, their next door neighbor, Kimmy Gibbler.

"You did the right thing, Jess," Danny told him as he entered. "Come on, princess, I let you skip your bath yesterday because you were so good playing by yourself for four hours while Daddy slept through your sisters' stuff. You need one before preschool." Michelle vehemently refused, even when Jesse offered instead. He finally convinced her, telling her about all the nice toys and bubbles, and they went into the bathroom.

Danny smiled sadly. His oldest, D.J., came up behind him. She and Stephanie were ready for school, and were about to go down and eat breakfast. "She refused again, huh, Dad?"

"I think she just needs more time with your Uncle Jesse. He's been getting her up and spending so much time with her, since your mom died, she's bonded with him. The change is hard for her," Danny said as he walked downstairs, with the girls following.

"Dad, I don't like to say this," D.J. said as they spied Joey in the kitchen. The comedian was doing an impression of Snap, Crackle, and Pop talking as he poured milk on his cereal. "But, it seems like you have more trouble than she does."

"D.J.'s right. Maybe you should get a later appointment for Michelle's checkup and let D.J. go with you," Stephanie suggested.

D.J. gave her younger sister a look. "Steph, you were supposed to save that till later," she whispered, annoyed that Stephanie had jumped the gun in what they'd discussed the previous evening. Turning to Danny, she decided to explain what she was going to before she and Steph mentioned the pediatrician. "But, now that she mentions it..."

"What? Is there a problem?" he asked as he sat.

"Dad, ever since she's known that Uncle Jesse's not going to be living here after he and Becky get married, you've let her get away with more. You started out okay in punishing her, but lately I've been doing it again. And, you didn't even remove her toys or bubbles from the bath you gave her after she dove into those cake samples."

"Well, there's a very good reason for that." Danny poured his milk, and gestured with his spoon while the cereal sat making noise. "Deej, it takes children a long time to adjust. Right now, things need to be as normal as possible. Which means the sudden transition to me punishing her when she was a month or so shy of four needed to be toned back. If it hadn't been, it might have been too much." Becky entered, and Danny told her Jesse was giving Michelle a bath. She went upstairs. "The key to having kids is to make sure they understand completely and have plenty of time to get used to things."

"Dad, this isn't telling us when it's a few minutes till bedtime," Stephanie pointed out. She recalled what D.J. had said - that the one it was hardest for even when it came to Danny starting to discipline Michelle wasn't Michelle, it was Danny. He used the excise that he hated to see her grow up. But, D.J. suspected a lot of that was missing Pam.

Danny continued. "And Michelle has...oh, hey, Kimmy."

Kimmy entered and sat down. "What's for breakfast?" She noticed Danny rambling about raising children. So, Kimmy took Danny's cereal, grabbed a spoon, and said, "I'll eat that if you're not going to." Danny gave her a look.

"Dad, Michelle has been getting more and more out of control since she knows you won't enforce things. She covers her ears or starts making noise herself when she doesn't want to listen to you lecture; she crawled on the table for half a minute that time with the samples. And, even though you're telling me if she needs to be sent to her room, it's still not like you punishing her yourself," D.J. said. Danny hadn't even tattled on Michelle before, so this was an improvement, but she was still concerned.

Danny relented. "Look, I know I've been letting things go again. You just do such a good job. That's why I figured you could easily stop her that time she brought her pool into the kitchen. And, besides, I let you tell that story about the two princesses, after the samples and her birthday. I didn't really like the idea of the parable...or was it an allegory...?"

"Dad," D.J. said, trying to get him back on track. The problem with the samples had been so bad that, when Michelle started to get too out of control at her birthday, D.J. had told a story about two bad princesses, who did the same things Michelle did. One started to be good and listen, the other kept being so bad "Queen D.J." had spanked her. D.J. would be gentle, only hurting Michelle's feelings, but Michelle didn't know that. The idea was shocking enough she'd started to be really good. Nobody spanked in their family.

"No, see, there's a difference," Danny said, trying to avoid the issue. "A parable has one main point, but the things in the story don't normally symbolize anything themselves, although they can. Whereas an allegory is a story with things that normally symbolize other things. Do you see what I'm saying?"

Kimmy spouted, "I do, Mr. T.; any dummy can tell you're avoiding the subject."

"Even you," Stephanie teased before thinking aloud, "Somehow, it's not as fun, when you set me up for a comeback like that."

"Dad, all I care about is that it not become prophetic," D.J. countered. Danny nodded slowly. "Look, let me go with you and Michelle to see Dr. Landress. Maybe he'll come up with some ideas neither of us thought of."

Danny finally agreed. "I just remember last year, when Michelle talked about how you would punish her. She told the doctor if she did something bad, I'd have to tell you she was a bad girl. He said whatever she said, it would be perfectly normal to put 'Mommy' in place of your name. I guess I'm scared he'll say you've totally replaced me."

"Come on, Mr. T.," Kimmy said. "D.J. could never replace you."

Danny was stunned - Kimmy usually said annoying things. "Oh...thanks, Kimmy."

"She'd never talk on and on about dorky stuff like you do," Kimmy finished. Danny shook his head, knowing he shouldn't have expected a compliment.

The appointment was changed to the following Monday afternoon, so D.J. could go with them. Once the physical exam was finished, Dr. Landress asked how things were going with the transition - he'd been told that Michelle knew Uncle Jesse was moving out.

"Oh, pretty good. She still goes in to talk to him every morning, and he's still there to sing her bedtime song along with Joey and me. And, of course, he gets her after preschool pretty often. She knows he'll be there working every day."

"Who will be taking his place in the morning and at night after he leaves?"

Danny wasn't sure. "I hadn't thought about it. I guess D.J. could handle some of it."

"In that case, Mr. Tanner, I'd suggest that she start now. To get Michelle used to it."

"Oh, that probably would be a good idea." Michelle was getting dressed, and D.J. was prepared to read a book to her. "D.J. had some questions about that, in fact."

D.J. told the doctor about Danny's problems with disciplining Michelle. She mentioned that she'd told Michelle the night before he started that she would let Danny try to make her go to bed instead, and how she had to put Michelle to bed. That was why Michelle had looked to see if the coast was clear before coming into the living room; she'd wanted to see if D.J. was there waiting to put her back. Otherwise, she'd have boldly walked into the room and turned the TV on louder. D.J. also explained that she had to go in and insist Michelle stay in timeout when Danny first punished, before she realized he meant it.

The doctor raised his eyebrows. "Mr. Tanner, do you remember what we said at her three-year-old checkup?"

"Yes; you said that it was okay if D.J. was disciplining, because she was learning right from wrong. But, the longer I waited, the harder it would be to start. Which is why I've backed off since we told her Jesse was moving out," Danny explained. "I just didn't think she could deal with so much change at once. But, I do tell D.J. on her now."

The doctor was stunned. Unsure of what to say for a second, he tried his best to sound diplomatic. "Mr. Tanner...please let me be frank."

"He wants to be a hot dog?" Michelle asked as D.J. sat her on her lap and opened a Dr. Seuss book.

"Not that kind of frank," Danny said with a chuckle. "This kind means honest."

"Mr. Tanner, it sounds like you are the one having problems with change. You have hardly started transitioning Michelle toward your brother-in-law not living there, and it sounds like you never would have told her yourself."

"I guess we haven't. I didn't want to tell her. I let Jesse handle it all, and part of me didn't' want him to..." Danny fought the urge to blame himself, and got back into the present. "Do you think he should move to the attic? That's something D.J. wanted me to ask; her guidance counselor suggested it. You know, the schools have great counselors," he said, trying to avoid the subject again. "D.J.'s asked this one quite a few questions about dealing with Michelle, and she's usually been right, like picking her battles. Like, D.J. isn't quite as insistent on respect."

"The attic would probably be good, yes. If you have room." They had a recording studio there now, but the attic was 1300 square feet, so there was plenty of room for a bed and Jesse's other stuff for a few months. "I recommend D.J. be the main one, besides you, on the second floor." He indicated how D.J. was reading to Michelle. "She already seems to have somewhat of a bond with her like a mother might."

Michelle only overheard the word "mother." "Right now she's bein' my sister."

"What makes you say that?" Dr. Landress asked, using it to test cognitive development.

"'Cause she's reading to me." Why was that being sisterly? "'Cause Stephanie reads to me, too."

The doctor smiled and told Danny, "That makes sense, for her age. She takes something she knows her other sister does with her - namely reading to her - and decides that because D.J. is doing that, that means she's being like a sister. Now..." He turned back to Michelle. "When is she more like a mother?"

Michelle lowered her voice some. "When I'm bad," she said quickly, having been reminded of that because of D.J. having discussed when Danny had started punishing her. She leaned back and let D.J. wrap her arms around her and give her a tender kiss.

"See, Mr. Tanner, there's not the bond there would have been had D.J. been the mother figure from the start. But, it is there. She knows there are times when she is not good, and she's learned the concept of shame. That's not bad in this context; it's a way to denote that she's learned right from wrong. She knows there are times she has done something naughty and should be punished, but she's not tormented by it or anything."

"Sometimes Daddy punishes me. D.J. does it if I'm real bad. Like when I ate all the samples." Safe in D.J.'s cuddle, Michelle felt confident mentioning that.

When told what had happened, Dr. Landress was really taken aback. "Mr. Tanner, I'm sure you know children of almost four don't do that, and if they do only for a second," he remarked, trying to sound as kind as possible. "This shows what I said last year could happen. Had D.J. been in the room, I'm sure she would have controlled herself, or at the least, stopped at the sound of D.J.'s voice; maybe looked back with an ornery grin." Danny agreed. "Just like how Michelle obediently took that rake handed to her and began raking. Yes, she tested D.J., on dragging her pool in. While I'm no psychiatrist, we do take some of that in medical school. And, it wouldn't surprise me if she felt bolder because you had just told her she didn't have to obey D.J.. Or, it could have been a child simply testing her 'mother figure' as children do at times."

"So, Dr. Landress," D.J. asked as she looked up, "are you saying that all of that would have happened anyway? The pool, the samples, everything?"

"Much of it, yes. However, it is worse because of your father's...laxness once he tried to start. Taking her to you for discipline isn't the same."

D.J. fretted, but told herself to remain cool with Michelle there. "I thought lots of this was because Dad was having trouble with change. I guess waiting till she was almost four to start disciplining was the biggest problem." He agreed. "So, now what?"

"First, Mr. Tanner, your brother-in-law should let D.J. handle some things he does, and if possible, he should move into the attic. Second, you need to enforce things yourself. If you have trouble, you and D.J. do it together. Take her to her room, sit her in the corner, have a talk afterward, whatever she would normally do, together."

Danny agreed, and asked about the story D.J. had told Michelle. He ensured Michelle wouldn't hear when he mentioned D.J. would try hard to only hurt her feelings, and how he and pam had agreed that while he couldn't bring himself to, she could see giving light fwaps if nothing else worked to a kid like Jesse. However, he added, "Nobody's ever gotten that in our family. Well, Jesse was in the principal's office so much, he might have, but I mean, even the concept is so foreign."

Dr. Landress wanted to say that Danny was underestimating how easily children got used to new things. He bit his tongue, however.

"I'm also worried Michelle will use Uncle Jesse leaving as an excuse to act up," D.J. pointed out. Quickly looking at Michelle, she said, "But you know better, don't you?"

"That's right. You'd get mad," the little girl said.

The doctor went over to Michelle. "Michelle, do you know why your uncle is moving?"

"He's getting married. We'll have a big wedding," Michelle said, motioning with her arms, "and Uncle Jesse and Becky will live happily ever after."

"You understand that he will still love you the same?"

"Duhhuh. Of course he will."

"Mr. Tanner, as you can see, she is certain. It sounds like D.J. has handled everything well." More lowly, he asked candidly, "How are you dealing with it? I don't mean just her growing up or Jesse moving out; I mean since your wife died." He wondered - like he had at an earlier checkup when they talked - if Mr. Tanner might say what another patient of his had. This other patient had told him not a day went by he didn't break down crying. Indeed, it sounded like Mr. Tanner hadn't even told Michelle the real reason he hadn't punished her till when he did - Mr. Tanner knew she wasn't a baby, the pediatrician had spoken with the men about the need to discipline a couple years earlier.

He didn't break down and cry like that parent. However, as he admitted, "I won't lie to you; it's been rough." Danny noticed he'd taken a handkerchief and was cleaning the doctor's instruments. "I guess more than I think, huh? But, I've always loved cleaning."

"I know." At Stephanie's checkup when Michelle was two, he'd asked to see all the men when D.J. came in, to talk about Michele's discipline. Danny had begun cleaning the doctor's instruments when they were all there, too. "Mr. Tanner, I'm not going to be so bold as to suggest grief counseling. You handle every other aspect of life very well. Your girls are all healthy and happy, they feel loved and nurtured, you have overcome many obstacles to be a great single parent. What I have to say may be something D.J. has already said," he remarked, turning to D.J.. "I would not even be as concerned if you had started last month and were successfully disciplining Michelle consistently now."

Danny was forced to agree, though he didn't want to; things would have been better.

"As things stand now, you must adjust to change very quickly. You must enforce limits consistently, even if she tries to use the 'excuse' that Jesse is leaving. Because, as you can see, that's not a concern. She's adjusting to it very well. But, where a year ago, it was okay for Michelle to talk about D.J. punishing because she could easily put 'Mommy' into the sentences and it would make sense, it's crucial that you start now and remain consistent." He finished by asking Michelle about D.J.'s "last resort." Michelle told a bit of the "tale of two princesses" as D.J. had told it, and was able to apply it to herself - she wanted to be a "good princess," and understood only D.J. would do it, and only if she was "really, really bad" - which she didn't want to be.

Danny was sure that Michelle understood. Now, could he manage to get control of things without D.J. having to resort to that, or could he get used to the change at all?

It was rough, but he did. D.J. never had to give one of those "really light spankings." Michelle wouldn't push that limit once D.J. mentioned it. And yet, Michelle also knew D.J. loved her more than she could imagine, and was just saying that so she learned to control herself. Danny was satisfied - D.J. was handling things like Pam, but he'd never forced her to be totally like her.

For Jesse, helping Michelle learn to behave well - and Danny learn to discipline consistently - would be the last major milestone he helped with while living there.

A couple months later, Danny had learned about something Michelle had done - hiding the wedding ring for fun - and immediately went up to D.J. and told her about it. "All right, Deej," Danny said, "what would Mom do here?"

D.J. sighed, but tried to hide her frustration. "Well, it shouldn't get as bad as last time, but I think you should at least send her to her room for a few minutes."

"But, not the corner?" D.J. said she thought they didn't need to use that; they were back to only using Michelle's room because she'd started to listen better. "Okay."

Jesse was having a talk with Michelle about why it had been wrong. Some things just weren't toys. Michelle listened well - Danny had refused to do anything about her eating the cream out of all the cookies and a few other things a month ago, but after another samples-like incident, D.J. had gotten tough with what she threatened could happen. But, now Michelle would listen to Danny - if only because she didn't have to listen to D.J..

After Danny had put her in her room for timeout, and let her out, they had a talk about Becky's wedding shower as a family. "I'm glad you've been good around the cake I baked for it, Michelle."

"Yeah, shorty, I'm really glad you're obeying the rules." Jesse smiled sadly. "It's fun to have you wanna be like me, but I'm glad you don't want to repeat all my mistakes."

"Of course not. I want to be like D.J. now," Michelle remarked.

Danny could tell D.J. probably thought about all the pressure he'd put her through. "Sorry, Deej; I guess she still sees you as a bit of a boss."

D.J. considered how tough it must be for Danny. She'd worried at times he'd force her to do everything for Steph, too, the first few years. However, as they sat, she put an arm around Danny and reminisced. "I kind of didn't want to think of how rough it must be. I remember that first night after Mom died. You came home from the funeral home, and you actually took one of Steph's stuffed animals when she offered you one."

"I know. " He allowed himself to chuckle a little as he looked at Stephanie. "You needed Mr. Bear, but...I guess you figured I'd need comforted the same way you did."

"I remember. I'd even put Mr. Bear on your bed for you a few times later, when I was trying to be brave." That's why the bear hadn't been in her room those times.

"I think we all figured you needed help at times, Danny," Joey added.

"Yeah. Now that I have my room to myself again, with Steph in her room..." D.J. thought of something she'd pushed back, not wanting to think about how hurt he must have been. "I remember Dad came in and sat, and we talked a few minutes, and it was like he couldn't move then. I finally asked if I should just sleep on the couch."

"I did get up then. Didn't I?" Danny asked.

"You did. I guess not wanting to think of that, and then not remembering with Steph moving in...I never thought about how painful that must have been for you, Dad."

Jesse said not to worry. "We were all grieving, Deej; I mean, you were ten, you can't expect to have thought about how your dad was takin' it. Steph and Michelle, yeah, you tried to be strong for them, a few times you didn't talk about how sad you were 'cause Steph'd cry. But, that was on your level; just like reacting when your dad wouldn't punish Michelle. Could you have been proactive; sure. But, you still did a fine job."

"Thanks. And, Dad, don't worry, Dad," she said with a compassionate smile. It was still hard, but at least now, it was out in the open that Danny had problems, so they could talk about it and get through them; and, Danny was improving. "No matter how hard it is on you when Uncle Jesse moves, I'll be there for you. And, you'll help, right Michelle?"

"You bet. We're gonna have lots of fun together," Michelle said, as they all hugged.

"Maybe Joey and Uncle Jesse couldn't quite be like Pam. But, we've all been here for each other," Danny remarked.

D.J. agreed. "And, we'll be there when you have kids, Uncle Jesse, if you have trouble bringing yourself to discipline them."

Jesse wanted to say, "You mean when," but he'd never been the kind to reveal feelings easily. Frankly, though, he was scared of becoming like his dad, or of hearing a kid call him a meanie because he put them in timeout that's why he'd never punished Michelle.

Danny continued. "But, with all of us together, we've made it work." They agreed.

Michelle's behavior drastically improved as D.J. became of a mothering influence. Danny came close to an ultimate authority figure. And, he and D.J. had a great partnership when it came to helping Michelle grow into a wonderful, young lady.

Which is similar to the way it would have been with Pam, eventually, although with Danny's laxness Michelle was more ornery in this stage. And, as Danny considered later, perhaps that's what he needed all along; someone to be just like Pam.