Freaky Friday on a Saturday? It’s Late Week! Anything goes!
Actually, I had most of this post prepared a full day in advance, and I still managed to fall asleep without finishing it Friday night. But this week’s theme is a forgiving one. So I’m declaring this a Late Week miracle!
Now, onto the actual content:
My wife was heading out to run some evening errands couple of days ago, and my 4-year-old was, for some reason, freaking out about the departure: clinging to her mom’s leg, crying, refusing to answer our questions as to why she was so upset. She’s only blubber that she didn’t want Mom to leave.
Before we just pried her off and let her scream—my wife had presents to buy, after all, probably for me!—we tried making my daughter laugh. Nope. She chuckled a bit at my attempts, and then went right back to her paranoid sobbing. We tried reasoning with her. And then I decided to throw her into the middle of a game. I figured that if she suddenly thought she could win—that elusive and undefinable yet desperately desirable state of success my daughters yearn for, whether they’re on their way up the stairs to brush their teeth for bed and decide to start racing or are comparing the juice I poured them into different-shaped glasses to see who got more—she’d forget whatever was bothering her.
“I bet you can’t catch me!” I said, and I darted a bit, as if I were about to run off.
My 6-year-old caught on immediately and tried to help, employing what sounded like some reverse psychology of her own:
“Dad’s a thief! He wants to catch you, kill you, and eat you!” she shouted. “Want to chase him?”
In retrospect, and looking at it actually written down, it seems fairly innocuous. I play all sorts of games where I’m a lion ready to pounce on the girls, or a monster coming to chomp them, or something similar. So I guess the death is implied.
But I never come right out and say it. There’s a difference between sending your kids scurrying by shouting “I’m going to get you!” and “I’m going to kill you!”
I do have a somewhat dark game I break out when the girls are pretending they’re asleep. Sometimes they’ll fake it in the backseat of the van, squeezing their eyes shut and keeping rigidly stoic faces as I unbuckle them and toss them over my shoulder to carry inside. At times like that, I’ll stage whisper to my wife: “Since the kids are asleep, I can tell you this: They seem to be getting to just about the perfect size for eating. Remember: Never let them know!” Then I act all surprised when they sit up and accuse me of wanting to cook them.
Anyway, my 4-year-old wasn’t terrified or anything by her sister’s shout, but it didn’t help either. My wife and I exchanged eyebrow raises, and then we did the prying.
My girl was fine for the rest of the night. Mostly.