I have to admit that I’ve been letting this story cook for a while. I just wasn’t sure if I could do it justice because, unless you know my husband & my youngest daughter, the telling-especially in print- might not achieve this anecdote’s maximum potential for funny.
So, let’s assume that you are familiar with my husband, Mr. Modesty, who usually masquerades as Mr. Nothing-Ruffles-My-Feathers. He’s an incredible father to two of the prissiest, bossiest, nosiest little girls (nothing but a great big shoulder shrug here as to how they acquired these less-comely of the feminine traits) who love to make him raise his eyebrows. Clif does anything and everything with the girls; he’s a good listener and he is great at pretending and playing with them. I never gave Clif’s modesty a second thought until one day, a few years ago, when he embarrassedly told me that he had stepped out of the shower when Nora Ruth caught a glimpse of him hastily pulling up his boxers and wanted to know why he had a “tail”.
Alliene, my three year old, is all of the things I described above and much more. We love her spunk and her wiliness; she is always up to something and trying to size us up to see just how far we will go to stand in her way. She is also tender hearted, loving, and so ardent about doing things that make her more independent, a “big girl”. Lately, her game of choice has been “Baby and Mama” in which she models all of the behaviors that she sees me doing with her baby brother. She carries her baby around in the Bjorn and in the stroller, she coos and talks and reads to her baby, she puts the baby to bed & changes her diaper, but what makes us all roll our eyes and giggle is when she plops on the sofa, pulls up her shirt, pinches a roll of skin over one of her ribs and announces, “Now I am gonna feed my baby…wif my boobies!” Alliene has a little voice, but its deep and each word that she says is its own pronouncement, punctuated with an “!” to convince you of its importance and her own conviction.
A few nights ago Clif crept into the kitchen from the direction of the girls’ room, head back, eyes wide, mouth agape and asked me, “Do you think Alliene is alright? I mean, do you think this baby-game-thing is, umm, normal?” I chuckled because I knew immediately to which part of the game he was referring and I probably told him to stop being such a prude and to grow up. But with the eyes of a deer caught in headlights, he proceeded to reconstruct the following conversation:
Alliene: “Daddy, let’s play baby and mama and you can be the baby and I can be the mama.”
[Clif and I usually take this opportunity to propose that the “baby” should be put down for a nap, covered up with a blanket, read a story, and allowed some quiet time. No kidding, I have actually had a power nap during several of these games. It is not a bad game as far as pretending goes.]
Alliene: “Now, you! lay! in! my! lap! and drink! from! my! boobies!”
Clif: “No, Allie! [Notice he breaks character for a second but he’s still in the game. Also, this should be read in the same way that it was told to me, with a generous helping of desperation.] I’m a big baby! Feed me with a spoon!”
Alliene: “Okay, baby, here!” [cupping her hands and holds them out to her big baby]
Clif: “Thanks. What is it?”
Alliene: “It’s milk! from! my! boobies!”