We’re sitting in the doctor’s office and waiting an awfully long time, so while the kids play hangman on a blackboard I pick up this kids’ safety brochure and begin reading bits to my husband. It’s a very earnest publication that ends up occasionally being unintentionally comedic: including a “bonus” Missing Kids poster of your very own!, a tale of teaching your kids a “magic phrase” and an Uncle who takes this safety precaution to creepy, gaslighting lengths, and a quiz that sternly instructs children, among other paranoid restrictions, not to climb trees. Ralph and I are have already had some inappropriate giggles out of all this when I read him the following from the article on child abduction:
“Abductors sometimes dress in disguise as Santa Claus or a clown, in order to inspire childrens’ trust.”
Ralph gets a furrowed brow and a frown. “That’s not right. I mean that they have to be dishonest like that.”
“What?” I ask, my intended point (that I always found Santa and clowns creepy as a child and likely wouldn’t have fallen for the ruse), lost for the moment.
“I mean they shouldn’t have to trick kids, they should be clear about their intentions.”
I couldn’t believe what he was saying. He wasn’t joking: his tone had completely changed and he was very serious. I kept digging until some comment or other of his revealed the misunderstanding: Ralph had thought I’d read “doctors” (rather than abductors) and he was thinking of the little white lies he suffered as a child: physicians being dishonest about how much shots would hurt, etc.
Once I realized the mistake I could hardly set him straight. Because I was laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face and I was shaking into the little booklet.
‘Cause you know. Those abductors should really be more straight-forward and honest.