When I was a child there weren’t any kids my age in the neighborhood, so I spent a lot of time doing imaginative play. This included the invention of my very best (and imaginary) friend, Michele. I know this is fairly common among young children. What I’m not so sure is as common is how I would play with Michele. I would actually BECOME her, ring the doorbell, and say to my mom as she answered the door, “Hi. Is Susanne home?” And then my mom would say hello and tell me that “Susanne” was playing in her room, and off I’d go to play. Some days my mom would tell “Michele” that Susanne was in her room cleaning and would ask her to go help out. I hate to even admit this worked to get my room clean, but it did.
But just as Michele could get the credit for helping to get my room clean, she was also my scapegoat at times. Growing up my parents had a crazy dark shade of blue paint on their bedroom walls. Thank you 1970’s. One day I snuck into their bathroom and took one of my mom’s lipsticks. I then proceeded to draw a line with the lipstick on one the dark blue walls. Oops. Since it wouldn’t come off, I snuck back into the bathroom and got a big ass jar of Vaseline. (In hindsight I really don’t want to know any more about that jar.) I took a big swipe of the Vaseline and tried to use it to clean the lipstick off of the wall. As you very well may have guessed, that only made matters worse. Now there was a dark red line AND a gigantic, smeary grease spot around it. When my mom walked in and saw me rubbing the oily substance on the wall, she asked me what happened? My response was simple. “Michele did it.” Now my very cool mom just replied, “Well, tell Michele next time don’t use Vaseline. Next time just come and get me and ask for help.” I told her I’d pass along the message and off I went. That was the last time we spoke about it.
Fast forward about three <gulp> decades. Greg started an imaginary character in our house called “Mr. Finger.” This is the guy, also known as your index finger, that tickles you as you walk by. The kids ask Mr. Finger to tickle them all the time, and Mr. Finger says “I’m gonna get you!” The kids go crazy and run around the house as Greg chases them and tickles them. I really wish Greg had discussed the creation of this character with me first because I could have undoubtedly added some rationale to his naming style and perhaps come up with something a little less cryptic when summoned around others. In public asking for “Mr. Finger” to come and get you can sometimes make us the recipients of some awkward stares. Any other name would have suited me, really. Mr. Tickle. Tickle Monster. The Tickleulator. Ticklemeister. Tickle Man. Tickle-man-o-rama. Tickleita. Ticklenator. Ticklearino. You catch my drift. ANYTHING else.
Right now Emily has this highly annoying habit of talking while I am reading her a story. She does it almost every night before bed time. It drives me crazy. I mean really, why do I bother killing brain cells reading the My Little Pony book she picked out for the eighteenth bazillion time if she isn’t even going to pay attention? Infuriating. I always ask her to stop but her mood dictates whether or not she will. So I skip sentences, sometimes pages to just get to the end to make the madness stop. One night I put the book down and told her that it was very rude to talk through the story. Emily looked at me and said, “It wasn’t me, Mommy! It was Mr. Finger!” Then her hunched over index finger came up and said in a strained deep voice, “Sorry!”
But I don’t think this behavior comes from my genes. I actually find Greg accountable for teaching her how to deflect blame. She’s watched him at least 356 times place responsibility for some suspicious (and bodily) noises on our dogs.