Child Rearin'

Published on April 6th, 2016 | by Richard Black


Play Pretend


God help the poor bastards who created this monstrosity. I’m speaking of the parents of course and not the child.

Children ask a lot of questions. Some are inane and easily answered. Others strike fear in our very hearts as parents.

“Where did you come from sweetie?” my daughter asks from time to time.

“Why that’s easy,” I reply in a pleasant baritone, “We found you in a basket by the river!!!”

“Why were mommy and daddy wrestling in bed last night?” is another question Darcy has also asked.

“Mommy and daddy wrestle in bed to see who’s going to drive you to school the next day morning,” I respond with my most heartfelt intent, “I was screaming because mommy needs to trim her nails.”

Other questions are more difficult to answer and not because I can’t come up with some glib falsehood that will result in my daughter’s messianic complex. I could of course but it wouldn’t help.  These are questions that require immediate action and, when my wife isn’t home, some measure of involvement on my part.

“Daddy should the toilet be overflowing?”

“Daddy can you get the badger our of the kitchen?”

A parents’ life isn’t easy and children these days seem to be incapable of solving even the simplest of problems. One question in particular tests my good nature. It’s usually asked once or twice a day and it, above all others is the bane of my existence.

“Daddy,” Darcy will ask and my gut will tighten in anticipation, “Let’s play pretend?”

A tiny part of me dies quietly in response. Quite frankly it’s better that way. I used to sigh and groan and complain but that made the experience unpleasant for both of us. Once I even tried to fake a stroke. These days I just shut up, get on with it and wonder if it’s too early to begin binge drinking. I hate playing pretend and part of that could be due to the fact that I’ve never really been all that good at it.

“Make me feel bad, make me feel naughty,” one unfortunate young woman in the throes of passion told me many, many years ago.

“You’re dressed in a Catholic school girl outfit and you want me to spank you with a paddle,” I said in a lusty voice, “Go see a therapist.”

“You’re such a dick,” the young woman screamed and proceeded to put on her clothes before storming out the door.

I waited a good hour and a half for her to come back but she never did. Part of me is still concerned that our wires got crossed and she’s still waiting for me back in my dorm room. I didn’t really get role play in college and I certainly don’t now. There’s something about it that just seemed so…unfulfilling.

Even as a child I didn’t enjoy playing pretend. Gaming consoles were just coming out in the 1980’s and cable television was finally coming into its own. It was a glorious time to be an indoor child.  Unfortunately my parents disagreed and forced me outside on a regular basis.

Most of the time my friends or brothers and I would ride around on bikes and throw rocks at each other but that quickly became dull. It was in this way that my nemesis was created.


This couple clearly understands something I don’t.

“Let’s pretend we’re pirates,” someone would say.

“We live in Indiana,” I responded, “there isn’t a decent sized lake within three hundred miles and you’re using a tube of wrapping paper as a sword.

There were a few times when I enjoyed using my imagination. The first that comes to mind was when a buddy and I discovered a pile of sandstone rocks underneath the back deck of his parent’s home. We were eleven or so and I came up with the idea that we’d pound them into sand, bag it and pretend that it was cocaine. It was, as I often write, a younger and dumber time. Miami Vice had an undue influence on many of our lives.

Unfortunately we never found a buyer and Tad’s parents’ yelled at him quite a bit for smashing the rocks under the deck. The fact that they were not concerned about two young boys pretending to make cocaine is fairly telling about that time and decade. As a side note if you know someone who’s looking for a few quart sized bags of powdered sandstone I’ve got a few kilos stocked away and priced to sell.

“Daddy let’s play pretend!” I can hear my daughter say and a deep shudder resonates within my soul. Of course it could also be my bowels. I’m not really up on where current theology says the soul resides these days.

Aside from cleaning an oven or weeding my lawn by hand I can’t think of a more mind numbing and fruitless pursuit. I play along for sum total of about thirty seconds before my mind begins to wander to some more enjoyable task in which I could take part like giving myself a prostate exam with a baseball bat or cleaning a Mens’ Room with my tongue.

“Daddy you’re not paying attention,” Darcy will note with a petulant look on her face, “Now you’re one of the Barbies and you’re going to a special dance,” she’ll continue, “but you can’t say that it’s special because you’ll ruin the surprise.”

I play along as best as I can. I ask inane questions at first but I inevitably deviate from the course.

“That dress is beautiful Glitter Sparkle Fairy Barbie wherever did you get it?” I say in a falsetto voice.

“My mother gave it to me,” Darcy replies, “but it’s an evil dress that came from her bad sister.”


Don’t let the smile fool you. Aunt Chlamydia is really just a horrible human being.

“Aunt Chlamydia always had poor taste in clothes,” I note, “once she said that she caught a UTI from sitting on a bike seat but that’s not true. She sleeps with a lot of inappropriate men.”

“Daddy you’re not playing right,” Darcy complains, “and now we’re having a sleepover with Tinkerbell and the other fairies.”

“Can’t we call them ‘Tiny Little People with Wings?” I’ll ask, “The term ‘Fairies’ just seems so derogative.”

“Daddy you’re ruining the game,” my daughter inevitably screams before collapsing in tears.

There’s really no way to win and it’s truly a sad state of affairs. Either Darcy ends up sobbing or I take another step on the path to being a functional alcoholic. You’ll have to excuse me now. I’m being roped into a game of “Sparkle Princess Monster High Fashion Show” and I’m only on my fifth beer of the day. Your thoughts, prayers and potential liver donations are welcome during this difficult time.

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