As is the custom when staying at a lakeside cabin, we spent a couple of evenings gathered around a hard-won fire (wet wood is so particular about burning). We roasted marshmallows and ate s'mores. Well, technically I am the only one who ate fully assembled s'mores. The kid just ate marshmallows straight out of the bag and her dad just ate the chocolate. We had a flashlight with us so that we could see as needed once it got really dark (and if you've ever been hours away from the city, you know that that kind of dark is DARK). A is obsessed with flashlights so of course she was waving it around and aiming it directly in the dogs' eyes.
"Hey, put it under your chin and say 'it was a dark and stormy night,'" I suggested.
"What is your story about?" I asked her.
The kid sat on a stump and positioned herself. "There was a big monster and it ate the baby ghost . . . " she began. Indeed, the story went on for quite some time. Not only did the horrifying monster eat the baby ghost (and who knew that ghosts are, in fact, edible?), it went on to devour the ghost's siblings as well. The ghosts' mom and dad were devastated and yet relieved not to have been consumed themselves. Then, inexplicably, a little robot entered the story. And then a fireman. The fireman turned out to be the most diabolical character of all because, when the little robot's batteries died, the fireman flatly refused to change them. I got a little lost at that point. Maybe it was the sangria, or maybe it was that the tale did not, in fact, make a whole lot of sense. Every time we thought the narrative was nearing its denouement, she would say, "And thennnnnn . . . "
"You have to keep your wish a secret," I reminded her. She nodded.
"I always used to make the same wish," I told my daughter. It was true. I made the same wish from 1998 to 2005. Every birthday cake, every fountain, every star in the sky.
"What did you wish for, Mommy?" She looked up at me expectantly.
"Don't you know, goober?" I looked back at her and smiled. "I wished for you.