A few days ago, Gemma went to a birthday party at one of those indoor establishments that house giant inflatable playthings and climbing walls and mazes. One of the giant inflatable playthings is a huge slide and I knew Gemma was a little nervous about going on it. I had reminded her that the last time she had been was a couple years ago, so she would probably feel more confident this time.
She returned home with cheeks still flushed (it's a 20-minute drive, mind you, after a 30-minute pizza/cake session) and pronounced the birthday party the best ever. Hours later, as she walked to her bedroom for the night, she was still talking about the first time she sat at the top of the slide.
Playing along, I asked, "And were you nervous?"
Eyes big and face solemn, she replied, "Yes. But then I held Molly's hand we went down together."
This time, however, she added something new to the story.
"I screamed my head off," she said. With just a slight pause, then she added, half-rolling her eyes, "Well, not literally, of course."
I stopped dead in my tracks. My eyes went wide. My jaw dropped just enough to open my lips which were already curving into a proud smile.
Sensing she was on the right track, Gemma turned to me and in a very matter-of-fact tone said, "Because, you know, if I literally screamed my head off, it would have popped off and I'd be dead. I don't think you can literally scream your head off?"
I fell to my knees and wrapped her in a big hug, whispering, "I am so proud of you, my smart girl. You have learned a lesson that too many adults don't understand."
She proceeded to regale me with things that could and couldn't literally happen.
Joel came into the room a little while later and I recounted our exchange. Feeling a renewed sense of peace in parenting, I finished by saying, "This day could not end any better. My work here is done."
Not literally, of course.