Children can be both the brightest lights and the darkest lenses. They are innocent enigmas, beautiful but sinister meat-eating flowers, venomous tropical birds, they are the divine mixed with the terrifying. I am convinced that children are the most dangerous and frightening things on the planet.
I found my girls playing with a small pack of much younger children at church this evening. “Okay, Clara and Lydia. It’s time to go!” But, as I herded my daughters toward the door, one of the little girls they had been playing with dove around me and blocked my path. She planted her fists firmly on her hips and frowned up at me. “Is true that your dog is dead?!” she asked with a strange tilt of her head and sideways glance at Lydia.
I took a half step backward and blinked with surprise. “Oh, hi. Excuse me, what?” I eyed the door, just a few feet further, yet so impossibly far away.
The little girl stomped her tiny foot and demanded an answer, “Your dog! Is he really dead?”
I looked at my daughters and we shared a sad apologetic smile. I had obviously interrupted an argument they had been having, trying to convince this mischievous little imp that their dog had in fact died.
I nodded quickly and said, “Yes, dear. I don’t know if you ever met our dog. But yes, he died not long ago” Then I quickly tried to change the subject. “Do you have a dog at home?”
She accepted this answer and relaxed slightly. Her fists fell away from her hips. “Yes. We have a dog. Only our dog is not dead.”
“Oh, then that’s the best kind to have.” I smiled and slowly tried to maneuver my way around her. But, before I could get to the door, yet another little girl launched herself into my path. “We had a rabbit!” she yelled, wiggling jazz hands in the air above her head for no apparent reason.
I recoiled into a nearby wall and tried to climb it backwards. The pack of strange little girls crept ominously closer.
“We had a rabbit,” the second little girl continued. “We had a rabbit, but now it is dust!” Once again she punctuating this terrible fact this jazz hands, fingers wiggling in the air like an explosion of confetti. “He is dust now!”
“Whoa! Okay okay,” I said, “I get it! Just don’t hurt me and my family, please.” I slid along the wall and finally reached the door. I grabbed each of my children by the tops of their heads and aimed them out into the hallway. “Alright, cool. Thanks for talking kids. Have a nice evening.” I said, attempting to drown out the strange alien conversations and arguments that were still happening behind me. “Neat guys. Goodbye!” I did not look back. I directed my daughters toward the exit and the safety of daylight. “Run!” I told them. “No matter what happens to me, do not stop running!” I could still hear loud voices behind me and my pace quickened as I thought I heard drums beginning to pound in the darkness of the forest.