A Macabre Imagination

Hal wanted to play in the backyard at his Denver grandma’s house recently.  The problem is, he’s not allowed back there without someone watching him.  I stepped up to the task and joined him outside.  I was relieved that he wanted to do something besides either play a game on his Nintendo DS or stare in awe as his brother played Minecraft.

We were soon engaged in some very… imaginative… play.

He handed me a small tree branch with many, many thin limbs and announced that it was my sword.  He pointed to the largest one (still smaller in diameter than the average pencil) and said, “If this one breaks off, you have plenty of others to use instead.”  He brushed his hand across the other “blades”.  I swished it back and forth, which he appreciated.  I declared it a tickle sword and tickled his belly with it.  He shrieked and ran away.

He soon approached me with his laser death ray.  As he pointed it at me, I desperately swished my tickle sword in the air between us.  He declared me dead.  I objected, saying that my tickle sword had disrupted the air between us and his death ray had not made it to me.  He grudgingly admitted that I was indeed not dead.

We then went through several rounds of “Pretend that…”  That’s the game where only one person (the youngest) is permitted to use his or her imagination.  He’s the stage director, the script writer, the producer, and the main actor.  He helpfully supplies my lines each step of the way: “Pretend that you didn’t see me and you heard a sound.  And then say ‘Oh, no!  What is that sound?!'”

My husband joined us at some point.  He and I sat on the porch swing while Hal ran around and acted out his imagination.  At one point, he told us to close our eyes and pretend that he had been “over here sleeping” and we had failed to notice that he had sneaked out.  When Daddy didn’t close his eyes, Hal amended the instructions to just pretend we hadn’t seen him.  He then acted out a fantastical and dangerous scenario with dragons and then pretended to wake up and tell us that he had had this terrible dream!

To his delight, I hammed it up and joined in enthusiastically.  My husband glanced at me periodically with raised eyebrows.  I laughed even harder.

Eventually, Hal tired of being the sleeping boy and decided he was a “Zombie Pigman”.  He walked around the deck with outstretched arms and stiff legs, snorting loudly through his nose.  He approached me and attacked before I could fully raise my tickle sword in defense.  I tried in vain to fend him off but in the end, lost first my sword and then the battle.  The Zombie Pigman strutted triumphantly away.

He headed to the sleeping area of the little boy next.  “Aha!” he announced. “I am going to steal this little boy while he sleeps!”

I leaped from the swing.  “Oh no you don’t!” I announced. “You leave my little boy alone!”

I rushed toward him and he snatched the imaginary boy and took off.  I grabbed at him and he quickly pantomimed eating his victim.  I pulled away and declared triumph, cradling my precious cargo to my chest as I returned to the swing.  He claimed it was too late, he had already eaten my son.  I pretended to rock my child and explained that he had managed to eat only the right pinky finger before I had pulled him to safety.

The Zombie Pigman lunged toward the swing and reached for the child.  I pulled back.  He claimed he got it.  I disagreed.  “But I’m stronger than you!” he explained.

I laughed.  “Stronger than a fierce momma protecting her dear baby?!  I don’t think so!”

“Fine.” he said, walking away.  “I’ll just go find a baby that no one cares about.”


All but Daryl were enjoying some cuddles this morning. As Jane joined us, I asked if she had slept well. She replied that she had not and proceeded to tell us about the nightmare she had had just before waking. This caused Hal to “remember” his nightmares and he jumped to his knees to tell us about them.

In his best spooky voice and with eyes as wide as saucers, he began. “I had this nightmare about… a zombie! And he ate my braaaaaaaaaaains! Ooooooooooooh!” He loomed over me with his arms in the air.

“And then I had another nightmare about a big zombie. He ate my toe and then I farted on his face and he DIED!

“And then I had another nightmare about a BIGGER zombie that ate my finger and then farted on me and then I farted on him and he DIED!”

“Well now I know how to handle zombies,” Jane commented. “I just need to have Hal fart on them.”

My husband and I were smiling and laughing silently, while Jane was laughing loudly. Hal picked up he had a receptive audience and continued with glee, bouncing on the bed and flailing about as he demonstrated how each zombie died (the death throes were massive).

“And then I dreamed about this big HUGER zombie that was bigger than the whole… EARTH!” He leaned in close to my face and whispered dramatically, “It was bigger than this house, but not bigger than the bigger, biggest buildings.” Sitting back up and thrusting his arms in the air, “but it was bigger than the earth! And it ate my baby but then I punched it in the face and farted on it and it died!

“And then there was the evil monster! When it attacked, it was killed by the big… dinosaur! Oooooooh!

“And then I had another nightmare…”

“I think this boy sleeps too much,” whispered my husband in my ear. I smiled and listened to the dozen or so supposed nightmares as the boy frolicked across us on the bed.