Published on August 14th, 2015 | by Richard Black0
My Daughter the Storyteller
It’s often said that children tell the best stories but I really haven’t found that to be the case. Darcy is an absolutely dreadful storyteller. Her plots are fairly transparent. She doesn’t employ many literary devices. Her dialogue always seems a bit forced and her characters are never all that well developed. The last critique in particular is a bit of a challenge because Darcy names every character Sunshine Rainbow Sparkle or some combination thereof and it’s tough to keep them all straight.
What my five year old daughter lacks in literary nuance however she more than makes up for in sensationalism, particularly when she has a captive audience…in the dark…after a traumatic experience.
A few weeks ago Darcy had two of her friends over to spend the night. My wife’s best friend Shari, the mother of the two girls, was also spending the night and had just managed to get all three girls settled down in the master bedroom for the evening. Then disaster struck. A bug of indeterminate proportions, somewhere between the size of a silver dollar and a small frisbee, buzzed through the room.
The girls freaked the fuck out.
One of them screamed at such an energetic pitch that dogs five blocks away woke and began to yowl. Another ran to slam the door shut once the insect made its way out of the room which was the most levelheaded response but not one my daughter appreciated. Darcy began to shriek because the room was now dark and the possibility that the bug hadn’t really left was enough to make her gibber and howl like Robert Dinero at the end of the movie Cape Fear.
My wife Laura was the first to answer the girls’ blood curdling cries. She spent a good thirty minutes chasing down the bug that had now grown to the size of a largish fritatta and sounded like a Vietnam era Huey in flight at which point I was enlisted to search for the beast.
“Be careful,” my wife said before she slammed the door to our bedroom, “It’s got red wings.”
And so, with a rolled copy of Southern Living in hand, I searched for the insect and I gave it a good half hour or so before I gave up and told the girls that it was dead. Yes I’m a horrible person but I’m comfortable with that.
I was tired and I knew that the odds of me finding anything other than frustration were pretty slim. The girls’ also needed closure and, I really can’t stress this enough, I was really really tired. So I lied. I announced that the bug was dead.
My wife and Shari gave me a look of marked surprise I tried not to take personally and relayed to the girls that I’d killed the bug who rejoiced and began the long process of winding down, once again for the night.
Twenty minutes later the girls were calm but not asleep, Shari and my wife were leaving the room and just as I closed the door I heard my daughter say these words.
“I’ve seen that kind of bug before,” Darcy said with solemnity only drunks and five year olds have the ability to muster, “it eats children.”
Chaos naturally ensued and it wasn’t until a good two hours later, with a lot of yelling on Shari’s part about “how the bug does not eat children and IT IS DEAD,” that the girls stopped screaming and settled down.
I closed the door and then heard my daughter again.
“It’s still alive,” she whispered, “and it really DOES eat children.”
Like any sensationalist Darcy knows when she has a hit. She also knows her audience and, perhaps most pertinently, seems to get a thrill out of the reaction she can garnish.
The next day we had a couple over for dinner. Shari and her girls were still with us and the experience had all the makings of a lovely evening. With our blessing the couple brought over a seven month old puppy named Beatrix.
Darcy warmed up to Beatrix pretty quickly as did one of Shari’s girls. Her other daughter however didn’t take to Beatrix all that well. In fact she took to the dog about as well as I’d take being dunked in a big vat of tarantulas. She screamed, the girl not the dog, off and on for the remainder of the evening but particularly when Beatrix made her way over to the foot of the stairs to investigate what all the screaming was about. This feedback loop continued for the next two hours until everyone in the house was effectively deaf.
Bedtime. The girls were once again down for the night and telling each other scary stories in whispered tones about zombies and ghosts and zombie dogs who eat ghosts and all was well. Beatrix had been given explicit instructions to avoid the stairs but, every so often, made her way up the steps and to the door of the master bedroom where she was greeted with a muffled, albeit fervent, scream.
Our friends would call Beatrix back downstairs where she’d settle at our feet was we talked in the living room or the kitchen. She’d circle the room a few times before coming to rest at someone’s feet. Then like clockwork she’d pop up. Every twenty minutes or so Beatrix would find her way back upstairs and into the girls’ prompting a brief shriek or two before she was called back downstairs.
It was only after Shari finally investigated the situation that we discovered why Beatrix was so intent upon visiting upstairs. My daughter, of course, was the culprit. Apparently Darcy had been calling the puppy up because of the reaction her presence provoked.
I went upstairs to help Shari lay down the law. We told my daughter, in no uncertain terms, that she was NOT to call the dog into the bedroom and just as we shut the door I heard Darcy mention that the dog’s ears were up.
“ Do you know what that means?” she asked in a voice just above a whisper.
The two other girls, rigid with fear, barely managed to shake their heads in response.
“It means,” my daughter said quietly, “that the dog is going to eat you.”