Thursday, March 15, 2007

Kids Say the Scariest Things

Kids Say the Scariest Things
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting one of his favorite columns. By favorite, we mean "stories of the times his kids nearly killed him."

My kids and I have a special relationship. They are free to bring up certain topics of discussion. I am free to make nasty faces and freak out at near-hysterical levels. They know which buttons to push, and will push them just to watch me have an apoplectic fit at the things they say. But most of the time, they do it without knowing they're pushing any buttons.

A few days ago, my youngest daughter -- nearly four -- and I were sitting alone at the table. She was telling me about one of her favorite shows on the Disney Channel, the Koala Brothers.

"Daddy, I don't like sex," she said.

My chest tightened, my left arm went numb, and I couldn't breathe.

"What did you say?" I managed to gasp, before collapsing in a heap on the floor.

"I don't like SIX," she said, a little more clearly.

"Wait, did you say 'six,' like the number six?"

Youngest Daughter couldn't understand the panicked look on my face, so she was a little concerned. "Yeah, six. That's what I said. I don't like six."

"Where did you hear that?"

"On the Koala Brothers. On Disney Channel."

"And they talked about six?"

"Yeah, six."

"And you don't like the number six? What's wrong with number six?"

She just stared at me.

I got up off the floor, grateful that I had misheard her, but immediately became concerned about a budding math phobia instead. However, Youngest Daughter is not known for her clarity of speech, so I still wasn't sure this whole sex/six question was completely resolved. So I asked Oldest Daughter a few questions about the show.

"The Koala Brothers is a show where they help each other," she said.

"Help each other with what?" I asked, blood pressure rising again. I swore that if I survived this conversation, I was suing the Disney Channel.

"You know, it's a cartoon. They just help each other with problems."

"Did they ever talk about the number six on the show?"

Oldest Daughter gave me a look that said I was obviously out of touch with today's hip, young eight-year-olds and three-year-olds.

"Well, did they ever talk about anything that sounded like the number six?"

"No. They just help people."

Since Oldest Daughter couldn't shed any light on the situation, I decided it was my overprotective imagination flaring up. I forgot about it until the following night, when the kids decided to play another game of "Let's Freak Out Daddy." My wife thought this was hysterical, and helped Youngest Daughter with suggestions.

So I decided to put my wife through the same cardiac torture I had experienced 24 hours earlier. "Hey, I know a game we could play. Tell Mommy what you told me you didn't like on the Koala Brothers."

Youngest Daughter climbed up on Mommy's lap, looked her straight in the eye, and announced, "I don't like sex."

My wife looked just as astonished and horrified as I did the previous night, but without all the gasping and flailing on the floor.

"You don't like what?!"

"Six. I don't like six. On the Koala Brothers."

I decided to let her off the hook, and flashed six fingers at my wife so she would know the Koala Brothers weren't discussing intimate relationships.

"The Koala Brothers help people," I informed my wife. "It's on the Disney Channel."

I could tell she was ready to call Disney and tell them to go have six with themselves. Oldest Daughter told us about the characters on the show.

"Are any of them named Six?" I asked hopefully.

There weren't. Just Frank, Buster, Archie, Josie, and Nick, but no Six.

"Nick was sick on Monday's show. He got a cold, and the others helped him feel better," explained Oldest Daughter.

"Yeah, sicks" confirmed Youngest Daughter. "I don't like the sicks."

It finally dawned on me what Youngest Daughter had been saying all this time. She was only concerned about being ill. She wasn't worried about grown up issues. My baby was still my baby, and I wouldn't have to deal with the birds and bees and where babies come from for the next several years. Actually, I won't have to deal with it at all; that's a Mommy conversation.

I don't think my heart could take another conversation like that.

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