We took the kids to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was really good!
While The Force seemed like so much nonsense in a popcorn movie about outer space, the perennial allure of The Dark Side seemed more real. In one character especially, it was unsettling and sad.
As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said: "The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being."
And as my kids have said: "I will destroy you, Mom." And: "It is death time, Maggie."
* * * *Horror movies about creepy kids abound, because even nice kids can be creepy as hell. Countless times, a shadowy figure has descended upon me in the middle of the night, whimpering and chanting "Mom mom" in a tiny voice. When it turns out all this creature wants is to crawl into bed with me, put its cold feet on me, and sneeze in my face, I feel strangely relieved.
In addition to scuffling around pre-dawn like the undead, kids can be so gleefully disobedient that they are, for all practical purposes, possessed. The other night, I was trying put them to bed, since it was bedtime.
This was not rocket science: Bedtime. Bed. Both have the word "bed" in them and are about bed and the proper time therefor. Used in a sentence: Get in your bed right now, and go to bed. It's bedtime!
The kids responded like crackheads who'd never heard the English language. They jumped around, goading each other into fights, screaming and cackling.
To get my point (BEDTIME) across, I was forced to behave like a grizzled beat cop in a rough neighborhood, and not the "good cop" either. The other cop.
The kids looked baleful and hurt. Then, something in their expressions changed. You could almost see it happening: They were going over to The Dark Side.
One of them grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, and within seconds produced a giant, hairless face, crumpled in rage, saying -- presumably from both of them -- "I WILL DESTROY YOU MOM."
It is important not to seem rattled when things like this occur.
"You've already destroyed me," I replied crisply, suggesting a glamorous self in the distant past. "Now go to bed."
* * * *
From her birth until the present day, I have called her so many ridiculous nicknames (Bunch, Buncher, Blumper, Blumpy -- I could go on), I couldn't decently say no.
"Okay, Maggie," she said. And, at night: "Rub my back, Maggie."
Calling me Maggie seemed to embolden her. As Mom I was an authority figure, sort of, but as Maggie I was just some chick with an -ie name whom she could lord it over.
One afternoon she was mad at me about something, or just bored. Standing at the table with a Magic Marker and a Dark Side glint in her eye, she penned a page-long criminal threat that began, "It is deth time Maggie" and ended ominously: "Biye biye." Next to these words was a figure with a sword in its teeth.
"That's me," she explained.
We had dinner and watched a movie about Santa Claus.
Later that night, possibly out of some vague sense of having crossed a line, she wrote me another message -- "Merry Crismas Mom" -- in her childish scrawl, illustrated with a happy elf.
I took it to work and hung it on my door, because it was literally the cutest thing in the world.
Everyone said so.