I wrote this over a year ago but I never published it because it got lost in my draft folder, but I’ve been recovering from food poisoning and I’m at that woozy stage where I think everything is funny or horrible and I’m pretty sure this is both.
Conversation with Victor (and Hailey):
Me: Did you see what your daughter made?
Victor: No, but I already resent what you’re implying.
Me: I haven’t said anything bad yet.
Victor: Well, you called her “your daughter”. I see where this is headed and I don’t like it. You only call her my daughter when she breaks something.
Me: Not true. She’s my daughter when she sets something on fire, or when she runs into a wall that’s always been there. She’s your daughter when she does things I’d never do. So guess what your daughter did?
Victor: She left the toilet seat up?
Me: Nope. Genocide.
Me: Or “promoted” genocide, I guess? I don’t want to jump to conclusions. I’m just saying that it’s a slippery slope and I’m concerned.
Victor: No. Start over. Make sense this time.
Me: Fine. Your daughter made this at school:
Victor: A lunch-sack puppet?
Me: OF HITLER.
Victor: What…? It’s not… Well. It does look a little like Hitler.
me: No, it looks a lot like Hitler.
Victor: Hitler doesn’t strike me as a waver.
Me: Maybe he’s Heiling.
Me: Or whatever the active verb for “heil” is. I DON’T KNOW THE VERB TENSES FOR THE THIRD REICH, VICTOR.
Victor: Right. So did you ask her if it was Hitler?
Me: She said it was a man they read about in school but she couldn’t remember his name.
Victor: Why is there a cat glued on him?
Me: She said that he was lonely and that’s why he was so grumpy, so she made him a cat.
Victor: Well, that does sound like it could be Hitler.
Me: Which is why I’m concerned.
Victor: Did Hitler even own cats?
Me: Already ahead of you. According to the Internet he did have a cat, but then he ate it..
Victor: Hitler ate his cat?
Me: Well, apparently. I googled “Did Hitler have a cat?” and the internet said this:
Victor: You wrote that answer yourself, didn’t you?
Me: No, and now I don’t like what you’re implying. Anyway, Hitler was a mass-murdering asshole so I don’t think it’s entirely outside the realm of possibility that the man ate a few cats in his time.
Victor: Hailey, can you come to the kitchen?
Victor: Is this Hitler?
Me: Answer your father, sweetie. Is this puppet of Hitler, and did you make him this cat to eat?
Victor: ENOUGH WITH THE CAT EATING, JENNY.
Hailey: That’s Mr. Putter. He likes trains and cakes.
Me: Cakes made of cats?
Victor: Drop it.
Hailey: I don’t know who Hitler is. That’s Mr. Putter from the Mr. Putter books. He doesn’t eat cats.
Me: Good. And you know it’s never okay to eat cats, right?
Me: And genocide. That’s frowned upon too.
Victor: Okay, I think that’s enough for today.
Me: Well, I think this is a teachable moment.
Victor: Well, I think she can wait until she’s nine to learn not to commit genocide.
Me: Fine. But just remember this if it comes back to bite us later.
Victor: Because she might dabble in genocide before she turns nine?
Hailey: What’s a genderside?
Me: Nothing important, apparently. I’ll just add it to the list of things to tell you when you’re older. “Menstruation and Genocide.” That’s gonna be one hell of a talk.
Hailey: You guys are weird.
And that’s how we decided (as a parenting unit) that we would wait until Hailey was nine before we taught her about genocide and why it’s not okay to eat cats.
Because, apparently, that’s just good parenting.
PS. I just looked up this Mr. Putter character and apparently there’s a whole series of books about him. And – I shit you not – this is one:
Full circle, y’all.