By: Bil Lepp
I know that children tend to ask a lot of questions, but there are times when I think my kids have been secretly attending Congressional panels to hone their interrogation techniques. My kids are young, eleven and eight years old (when I wrote this), so you’d think I’d notice if they slipped off to Washington for week or so. I’m not that inattentive a parent. I don’t know– maybe they’re upstairs watching C-Span right now.
Driving along in the minivan, when I’m pretty sure the kids are asleep in the backseat, I’ll risk saying something innocent to my wife such as, “Did you see that dog crossing the road back there?”
And then from the backseat I hear a noise that sounds suspiciously like a gavel falling, and my daughter says something like, “The Chairwoman recognizes the boy from the left side of the car.”
My son clears his throat and intones, “Did you say a dog was on the road?”
And before I can answer, my daughter asks, “What color was the dog?”
There is an intensity to the questions. For the next few minutes all that matters is that dog.
“Was the dog crossing the street from left to right? Or right to left.”
“Was it a big dog? Or a small dog?”
“Do you think the dog was rabid?”
“Was it a wolf?”
“Was it a fox?”
“Was it a wild dog?”
“Was it a dingo?”
“Could it have been kangaroo?”
I start to sweat under the scrutiny. I still haven’t had a chance to answer even one of these questions. I’m looking for an opening. I reach out and grip my wife’s hand. Why don’t they ask her these questions? She saw the dog, too. “Brown. Brown!” I confess. “The dog was brown!”
“I see,” comes the voice of my daughter. “Brown. Light brown or dark brown?”
Now my son jumps in, trying to confuse me. “What’s the difference between a shade and a hue?” That’s why you should never homeschool. Who taught my kid about hues? Not me. He probably learned it from one of those other homeschool kids during his astrophysics lab. Vocabulary thugs.
They’re trying to break me down. But I’m sticking with my story. “Uh, light brown.” I look at my wife for confirmation. She shrugs as if to say, “I never said I saw the dog.” She drops my hand. She’s distancing herself from me.
One of the kids spills their apple juice in the backseat. This is their variation of waterboarding.
“Was the dog all brown, or was he spotted?”
Why does any of this matter? I didn’t really get a good look at the dog. I wish I’d never seen that dog! @#%&ing dog! “Mostly light brown, with some dark brown around the edges.”
“Was the dog going left to right? Or right to left?”
Now we’re back to this. “Right to left,” I state confidently.
“Why was the dog crossing the road?” my daughter asks.
“To get to the other side,” I try. Yeah. She didn’t laugh either.
“Did you hit the dog?”
“No,” I nearly cry.
“So the brown dog was crossing the road right to left, but you didn’t hit it?”
“And you have no reason to believe it was sick? You don’t think it was rabid?”
“Was it foaming at the mouth?”
“If it had been rabid, would you have hit it?”
“I, I, I…”
“Have you ever hit a dog?”
“Do you know anyone who has hit a dog?”
“Why do they call it the ‘dog days of summer’?”
“Who invented the hotdog?”
“Is a PROstitue the opposite of a SUBstitute?”
“What’s an EX-O-TIC dancer?
“What does ‘dog tired’ mean to you?”
“When can we get another dog?”
“What’s a bounty hunter?”
“Would you have swerved into the other lane to hit the rabid dog?”
“I, I, I…”
My daughter asks, “What if there was a baby lying on the side of the road and the rabid dog was crossing the road to bite the baby? Then the baby would get rabies. Would you hit the dog then?”
“Yeah, Dad. Would you have swerved into the other lane to hit the rabid dog, even if there was a truck coming at you, to save a baby?”
My daughter sighs, “That poor rabies baby.”
“Yes,” I stammer, “I would hit the dog to save the baby.”
My wife asks: “You’d risk all of our lives to swerve into the other lane in front of an oncoming truck? What if the baby was just a doll?”
I hate that dog. I know it is not nice, but I’d swerve across three lanes of traffic to hit that dog right now, rabid or not!
“Yeah, Dad. What if the baby was just a doll and the dog wasn’t rabid, and the babydoll was the dog’s toy, and he was crossing the road because he dropped his toy. You’d kill a dog for that?”
“Wait…” I protest. “I never said…”
“Was the dog mostly light brown with just a little bit of dark brown?”
“Yes, yes. Just like that.”
My daughter giggles. “Just like a Reese’s cup.”
“Yes,” I agree, “sort of like a Reese.”
“Can we stop and get a Reese cup?” the kids ask in unison.
What can the dog killer do? I pull into a Go-Mart and we adjourn for a Reese break. It may be my only chance to rid myself of the dog.
Bil Lepp is a professional storyteller, the author of the picture book The King of Little Things, and a father of two. Check out his work on leppstorytelling.com
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