Kids playing doctor are far too happy when they discover you have a dire imaginary disease.
"Adults are obsolete children."-Dr. Seuss
I'm constantly surprised by the degree of imagination that my four daughters possess, especially considering how their ever-lovin' dad has such a limited imagination.
It wasn't always so. As a child, I had a very vivid imagination. Every night, my bed turned into a high-tech racing machine, twisting and wending its way through traffic. Every time my family went on a trip, I would stare out the window, imagining that I was out there, jumping over cars and flipping over signs.
And everywhere I walked, I would be a Hobbit, trying to be as stealthy as possible. Due to that constant vigilant training, I still surprise my wife by silently appearing right behind her, to her eternal delight, I might add.
Or I would indulge in my favorite game imagining that I had wings, and as they spread behind me, my feet would lift off the ground, amazing my friends, my enemies, and most importantly, whatever girl I had a crush on at the moment.
Unfortunately, years of TV abuse have sapped my imagination. Now, if I'm in a waiting room, instead of wondering what it would be a like to be a spider climbing the walls, I stare at those walls, wishing I could watch an episode of "The Simpsons." Thank you, TV, for giving me zero patience and no ability to fill the quiet moments. But I forgive you. I love you. Let's not fight again.
Anyway, my kids, however, have not had their imaginations wither from disuse. And luckily, I get to be a part of their imaginative games.
Annie and Jessie, for example, have decided that they want to be doctors, and in desperate need of a patient, I was recruited. I've played this little game before. It usually winds up with one of my extremities tightly wrapped in gauze, the skin turning purple. And I grin and bear it until the limb being "treated" goes numb. After the wrapping is removed, and the circulation starts again, I start screaming as the skin begins to prickle, then WOOHOO! A new ailment to fix!
As I sat on the couch, waiting for my treatment, Annie delicately and precisely placed a towel on the coffee table in front of me. On the towel, Annie then placed four empty bowls with a spoon in each.
"You're very sick, and we are your doctors," she said. Pointing to each bowl, she said, "We have milk, chocolate, honey and water." I really should've asked to see her medical license at this point.
Jessie plunged a spoon in my mouth, rattled it around a few times to make sure that I had taken all of the imaginary medicine, and then returned it to the bowl. Annie, who has a better bedside manner, announced that she was giving me chocolate before similarly stabbing my mouth with an empty spoon.
They both took turns feeding me "medicine" and asking me how I felt. Horrible, I told them. My hair hurt terribly. My fingernails were turning green. And worst of all, my epidermis was sloughing off. Annie rolled her eyes. "Can't you just say that your skin is falling off?"
"Not and still be a pretentious jerk. Carry on, 'doctor.'"
They took my pulse and gave me a freezing pack to hold on my forehead. And more medicine was administered. As she returned to her bowls, Annie asked me what I would like.
"Oh, we don't have that."
"But ... this is pretend." I really wanted that soup, you see. Imaginary soup sounded just about right.
"Ugh!" Annie said, throwing her hands in the air. "I'll see what we've got." And off she marched.
It seems innate that kids want to "play doctor." The doctor gets to do all sorts of thrilling and romantic things, like looking in people's ears, writing on clipboards and talking on cellphones. And to top it all off, the doctor gets to hold the threat of SHOT over everyone's heads.
That is after all, the favorite part of any pretend doctor visit. After everything is done, the doctor must solemnly look her dad/patient in the eye and say, "I'm afraid you'll have to have a shot today. It will hurt like a pinch, but if you keep still and don't cry, it will be over quick and you'll get a sticker." This is said with a little frown but a whole lot of half concealed sadistic glee in the eyes. So I get my shot and sticker, even though I did cry a little. But they never did locate any tomato soup, which is weird because, being imaginary, you'd think it could be whipped up. But I'm told not to argue; the doctor is a busy woman.