I stood in the hallway for five full seconds before reentering their bedroom to find them both sitting on the edge of Clara’s bed.
“Okay, what’s this your teacher tells me about one of you being tardy today!?” I said this in my sternest impersonation of a school principal. Two sets of eyes instantly grew wide, and the younger one scrambled to hide behind her sister.
“Was it you, young lady?” I pointed firmly at Lydia who made a squealing noise and burrowed deeper into her sister. I quickly realized that her fear was only partially an act. She was not enjoying this particular segment of our evening game. I smiled to soften the tone and winked to reassure her it was all just pretend.
It has become part of our bedtime routine to occasionally play school. I stand in front of their wall map of the United States of America and hold a pencil which I flip and twirl flamboyantly teaching them about a different multicolored slice of the USA. The girls are made to sit obediently in their beds raising their hands when they have questions or comments and occasionally being reprimanded for not doing so. Today, Lydia had insisted she be let out of the room so she could come in after the lesson about Michigan had already begun. This had prompted a call to the principal, which led to a pair of frightened little girls.
I sat down on the bed opposite them, and took on my regular voice. “I’m Sorry. Principals are not scary people. I was just playing.”
Lydia crawled out from behind her sister.
“Anyway,” I said. “You probably don’t even know what it means to be tardy.”
“Oh no.” Lydia said shaking her head. “I know what a tardy is.”
“Yes.” She nodded, becoming quite animated. “This one time, a boy from church tardied me right in the nose. Like this!” As she said this she balled her hand up in a fist and punched herself square in the nose. She bounced off the headboard with a loud *Clonk* and then recoiled sharply collapsing off the edge of the bed. The entire thing lasting less than a second transitioning from little girl smiling on the bed, to sprawled pile of pajamas on the floor. I quickly knelt down to grab her as she stood up rubbing her stunned face. Clara sat watching her sister with a look of patient disgust.
“Okay…” I said lifting her up and placing her back on the edge of the bed. “How about I go back out in the hall and get your teacher.”
“Yes please.” Clara said plainly while her sister continued to rub the bridge of her nose.