The worst things in life are those that make you laugh. How many times have you seen someone who was just informed that a member of their family has just passed away, let out a small smile before catching themselves and putting on a sad face? It is probably all to do with the particular thought that crossed their mind at that point. Most times, such a thought has nothing to do with death.
Today, I had to take my middle daughter to school. The other two children were suffering from a bad case of flue and had to stay home. She, on the other hand, was excited to be the only one going to school and kept on pulling faces and calling them losers and other childish names. It seems that she was dying for an opportunity to catch me on my own, and as soon as we left the house she said the following:
Daughter: Dad. You know how you always call me NUMBER TWO and call the others ONE and THREE?
Daughter: I don’t like it. Number two is what people do when they go to the toilet.
Me: So is number one.
Daughter: I know. But she does not mind. I HATE it.
Me: Ok. I’ll stop calling you number two. I’ll stop the number thing altogether. You are right, you have names and I should call you all by your real names.
Daughter: No. Just me. You can call the others by their numbers if you want.
Me: How about if I ask them what they like to be called?
Daughter: That is silly. Number one likes to be called Cindrella and number three likes to be called Ben 10.
Me: Hmmm. I’ll ask them anyway.
We walk on for a bit and start a conversation about chewing gum and how it is made when, suddenly, she lets go of my hand and skips forward towards something that is lying on the side of the road.
Daughter: What is that?
Me (putting on a solemn face): It’s a dead cat!
She covers her face with her hand and lets out a gleeful giggle!
Me (failing to suppress a smile): What are you giggling about? The poor cat is dead. You should feel sorry for it, not laugh!
Daughter: I saw a dead cat but number one and three didn’t. Hahaha!
I stopped trying to suppress my own amusement and stood there smiling at her and the dead cat. An old lady walked past us and noticed what we were smiling at.
Old lady: You should know better than to teach a child to laugh at such things.
Me: Err. You don’t understand. We are not laughing at the dead cat.
Daughter: Yes we are!
Me: Shuush number two. We are laughing because number one and three are not here to see it.
Old lady (frowning and shooting me with killer looks): You should know better.
Me: Yes. Yes. I know. Honestly though, you really misunderstood the whole situation.
Old lady: What’s there to misunderstand? You were both laughing at the dead cat.
Me: Yes. I suppose we were. Sorry. Come on number two, we’re going to be late for school.
We walk away from the old lady and the dead cat.
Daughter: You called me number two again!
Me: You got me in trouble with the old lady.
Daughter: I didn’t.
Me: Yes you did. You told her we were laughing at the dead cat.
Daughter (giggling again): We were. Heh. Heh.
Me: Stop it. Heh. Heh.
Daughter: Number one and three are sick and in bed. Heh. Heh.
Me: Heh. Only you and I saw the dead cat. Heh. Heh.
Daughter: Don’t tell them we saw a dead cat. It is a secret.
Me: What’s the point in that? I think we should tell them.
Daughter: NO! Number one knows EVERYTHING. I don’t want her to know about the dead cat.
Me: Hmmm. Are you ever going to tell her about the dead cat?
Daughter (giggling again): YEAH! When we have a fight.
Me (laughing like a starving hyena now): Are you planning to have a fight with her?
Daughter: No. But if we have a fight, I will tell her about the dead cat.
Me (thinking this is the time to do the fatherly thing and give some advice): Why do you think you will have a fight with her? It may never happen you know.
Daughter: It will. We always fight.
Me: It may not happen THIS time.
Daughter: It WILL. You don’t know anything.
Me: Ok. Ok. I believe you, number two.
Daughter: You called me number two again!
Me: You said I don’t know anything.
Me: I’m sorry too. No more number two.
We walk on silently for a bit and I start looking at my watch to see how late I am when I hear her giggle again.
Me: What are you laughing about now?
Daughter: Heh. Heh. I saw a dead cat.