On one of those awkward early summer days, after school ends but before camp begins (and mommy is off at her real job), I put the question to the little Goofs: “What do you want to do today?”
I had hoped that this would distract them from their preferred activity, jumping on me as I lay in bed. It did not. After a few more minutes of pummeling and grappling I made a proposal, “Let’s go to the medical center and watch sick people.”
“Yea! Sick people,” my children cried. This was not the reaction I was expecting.
“Daddy,” Goofboy began, “Let’s make a doctors appointment. Then we can go in and get all the stuff. Like we did before!”
“I never did that, where was I?” my daughter asked.
“One night, when your brother was little, he and mommy both were sick. We went to the doctors. Mommy went to a grown-up doctor and I went with your brother to the pediatrician. It was late at night and a lot of people were sick so we had a long wait in the examination room. Your brother wasn’t feeling well so I tried to make him laugh. The drawers in the room weren’t locked so we could get tongue depressors, Q-tips, doctor’s gloves…”
“Were they purple?” my daughter queried.
“No, sorry…plain,” I answered.
“Anyway,” I continued, “We played with the stuff. We put doctors gloves on our ears or we blew them up like balloons and then let them zoom around the room. We poked each other with tongue depressors. I pretended the blood pressure cuff was “electric” and that I got zapped and went crazy every time I got near it. Then someone banged on the door. It was mommy. She was so worried; the whole building could hear us. She thought he was shrieking in pain. Really he was laughing hard. Later we took a bunch of the gloves and we put them on doorknobs all over the building.”
“Why wasn’t I there. Did you leave me alone at home?” my daughter asked.
“No, you weren’t born yet,” my son explained before I could think of something to derail her interrogatory.
“It’s not fair! Everything happened before I was born. You only had fun before I was born and now everything is boring. I want to play with doctors gloves and I want to play the ‘lectricity game!”
“Actually,” I began “Mommy said I can’t play the electricity game because it might make you think electricity is funny when really it’s dangerous.”
“No,” my son interjected in his continual quest to be helpful, “Mommy said she didn’t want us to be afraid of blood pressure cuffs.”
“OK,” I said thinking fast, “You both know that electricity can be dangerous and you shouldn’t play with it?”
“Yes,” answered the Goof chorus.
I got out of bed, put on my dumb face and voice (every dad should have one) and grabbed one of my belts and started studying it. “I wonder what this is, I’m sure it won’t…aaauggghh…electric eel!”
I twitched and jerked, then sighed and said, “Whew. Well it’s probably out of electricity now…aaaugghh!”
“Again Daddy, again!” the Goofs demanded. Always remember, children thrive on repetition. I went to some other household objects – the TV antenna (sort of like an audio-visual appendix with cable), my electric razor (which tried to eat my face off), and one of my wife’s bathrobes (which tried to devour me like an anaconda.)
Soon the kids were bringing me items to continue the show – it was like torture improv. Stuffed squirrels aimed for my jugular, I was run over by matchbox cars, and I poked myself in the eye with Tinker Toys.
I killed – both the crowd and practically myself. After an hour of this my throat was sore from the screaming, my brain was fried from coming up with each new back-story for how I could hurt myself, and I hurt something in my back will all of the falling down and contorting.
I would have considered going to the doctor, but I lacked the energy and was completely out of material.