Death is on my brain lately, mainly because it’s been on my daughter’s brain. She’s going through a phase that involves a lot of fantastic tragedy. Every story she tells, every joke, every lie — it all ends in death. Here’s a common exchange.
Her: …then the pooh-pooh head went down the slide… and he died.
Me: Why did he die?
Her: (pause) ‘Cause he’s a pooh-pooh head. Bahahahahaha!
(Note: It goes without saying that she also has pooh-pooh on the brain lately) My guess is that this preoccupation with death is is developmentally normal. Kids squash a bug and wonder why it doesn’t just walk it off. Or, more specifically, my little girl finds roly poly bugs, which she genuinely loves and dotes on, but inadvertently sentences to death when she places them in a mason jar and sets them on our ninety degree patio so that they can “work on their tans”. Afterward, she contemplates the afterlife, mortality, and the problem of evil in the world.
During my daughter’s ongoing phase of slaughter and destruction, I’ve only been concerned once. That once was just a few days ago. She sat on the floor and gently stroked the ears and muzzle of our wonder puggle, Girdie. And very nonchalantly she said, “Daddy, I need for Girdie to get old and die so then you can buy me a guinea pig.” The comment froze me to the bone. Her actions were so sweet and warm, yet her words so coldblooded and ruthless. I half-expected her to grab the dog by the throat, snap its neck with the jerk of her hands, and then demand to be taken to the pet store. It was now I who contemplated the afterlife, mortality, and the problem of evil in the world.
For a few days, I spent a close eye on the dog, ensuring that Charlee wasn’t putting it in the oven to work on its tan, or something similar. Of course, this never happened. My dog possesses pretty good instincts and senses when the kids are cooking up something evil.
Euthanizing the dog did, however, put another good idea into my head. Sit tight. We’ll get to that.
Our home is comfy. Not too big, not too small. Just right for the family as it stands. Those days are numbered, though, as I can see us outgrowing this place soon. Already, Charlee has started rolling her eyes, a precursor to the teenage years I am told; and although those years are far off, I’d like to give her a wide berth so as to avoid any collateral damage to my heart and soul. In the mean time, much of my day-to-day concern has to do with the available square footage in my home. The square footage does not change, but our access does.
Essentially, we do not have a house; we have a gigantic toy box. When you have kids, the piles of crap that come with them is staggering. Much of this comes in the form of toys never played with, clothes never worn, and equipment — high chairs, cribs, diaper pails — too soon rendered unnecessary. But in my eyes, the coup de grâce of all kid-related crap is the plush toy. God hear this prayer, “Damn every stuffed animal to hell! To hell, I say!”
I broke down our monthly mortgage to figure out how much we pay per square foot, and I can tell you that the stuffed animals in this house are cuttin’ a fat hog in the ass. They contribute nothing, and they easily take up the majority of our useable space. So back to my idea. It’s simple. I need to stage a genocide. The problem is that I don’t have much genocidal experience. There are details, I’m sure — politics, rituals, formalities — all kinds of things that will need to be considered. So I’ll have to read up on it a bit. Consult Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun before I cleanse our home of the plush terror.
Also, my wife — crazy as she is — has created an emotional attachment to every stuffed animal in our house. If a friend or relative gave our kids a stuffed animal — despite how little time we might actually spend with that friend or relative, and despite how creepy or ugly the stuffed animal might be — we cannot throw it away. To do so, she says, would be immoral or unethical. I concede that she is both morally and ethically superior to me. Still, I say the hell with ’em.
Anyhow, I’m plotting the plush genocide. It’s in the works. In the mean time, those of you close to my family, please heed this warning: if you give another stuffed animal to one of my children — be it a cuddly wuddly teddy bear or a lord-have-mercy plush princess doll — I will destroy you. Slowly. Painfully. You and yours will gnash teeth. You will bleed. You will cease to be. Thanks for reading!