For parents, children are an endless source of equal amounts of frustration and amusement.
For the most part children will believe what you tell them, at least until they are old enough to know better, and even then if you say it with enough conviction you might get away it.
Now she is the Vampire Tooth Fairy and if you are not asleep when she comes she’ll suck your blood while taking your tooth.
My father was (and is) a master of the art.
“Daddy,” asked Small Me as he strode and I ran through the shopping mall, dodging the weekend crowds, “Daddy, where did I come from?”
Not breaking stride Daddy replied, “Actually, we got you from the supermarket here. You were on sale. 50% off and it seemed like a good price. I think we paid about R2.50”.
At this point we were entering the supermarket in question and my father, astutely realising that his shopping would take a fraction of the time without a small girl, led the way to the front of the store.
“And where we’re going now,” he said, “Is the returns counter. If you buy something and it doesn’t work, you can bring it back.”
Suddenly, I was lifted up and deposited on the desk. My father strode off into the store with a cheery, “Stay there!” and was gone.
“Don’t cry, sweetie,” said the lady.
“You don’t *sniff* understand!” I sobbed. “He’s returned me!”
It wasn’t only my Dad, other grownups also found these games amusing.
In those days before credit cards, one had to bring along a cheque book to pay for things. My Dad was forever leaving it behind.
One evening I fell asleep, as usual, under the table of an Italian restaurant we nicknamed, The Big Mushroom, but was actually called La Lampara.
Deciding not to wake me, my Dad ran home to get the elusive cheque book.
Except that no sooner had he left than I woke up to find myself in a locked and empty restaurant.
“Where is my Dad?” I asked the waiter.
“Ah,” he said sadly, shaking his head, “E ‘as left you ‘ere to do all da washing up to pay for da bill.”
“How much washing up?” I asked.
“Ooh,” he said, “Many many dishes. Many many.”
Perhaps the most life-changing incident occurred at about the age of 5.
I had a pair of Noddy Wellington Boots I was particularly found of. They were blue and about two sizes too small for my feet.
When my Dad suggested we walk along the top of the hill outside our home to a place called Gillooley’s Farm, I stubbornly refused to go without my boots.
I was told in no uncertain terms that no whining about sore feet was going to be tolerated and off we set.
It was a very long hike.
For my father it was twice as long as every two steps was serenaded with, “Daddy, why?”
As the sun was setting we finally arrived at our destination. The gloom was offset by glowing coals left in the grates by the day’s picnickers.
It was the proverbial straw that broke the back of my Dad’s patience.
“That, my darling,” he said in sepulchral tones, “Is where the devil roasts naughty little girls at midnight.”
I shut up.
My feet hurt. I said nothing. Eventually, my silent agony was too much for my father to bear. He slung me over his shoulder and we made our long way home in the dark.
The boots had to cut off my feet.
Days passed and in a moment of childish clumsiness I knocked my father’s antique coffee pot of the table, shattering the handle. I thought long and hard about how to handle this.
You did not interrupt her bath unless someone was in imminent danger of death and even then it was questionable.
I vouched this as an emergency befitting a knock on the door.
“Yes?” came my mother’s voice through the door.
“Mummy, if I did something really bad would the devil come and roast me in hell?”
Silence greeted this questions and then, “I can’t really answer that unless I know what happened.”
“Well,” I paused, “I might have broken Daddy’s special coffee pot.
“My darling,” said my mother, “I think you’d better go to your room and start praying.”