He never learns. You would think that pain would be an awesome teacher. But he seems to have amnesia for suffering. The way women who have multiple children do. Night after night he grabs Sophia and tickles her mercilessly and night after night he winds up bent over, his brows screwed up in pain, gasping, “Just give me a second!”
I plan to get him a cup for Christmas. The man needs protection.
This is how it goes down:
Sophie says something like, “Daddy! Don’t tickle me!” with a twinkle in her eye and her dimples as deep as two holes going all the way to China.
He says something like, “You mean I shouldn’t do this…” wiggling his fingers menacingly at her.
She then shrieks with delight and begins running in circles around the partition that separates the dining room from the kitchen from the living room—like an excited puppy. He takes off after her and within two strides is upon her.
The screaming is earsplitting. I’m usually in the background saying things like,
“Can you guys please take that somewhere else?”
“The shrieking. I can’t take the shrieking.”
“Kevin, do you remember what happened the last time you did this?”
All to no avail. Kevin picks her up like a sack of potatoes, throws her onto the bed or the couch, and sets to tickling the daylights out of her.
You have to understand that Kevin has been waiting years for this opportunity. He used to torment me in this way, back when we were dating. I hated it. HATED it. I view tickling as a form of inhuman torture akin to waterboarding. In fact, if anyone ever wanted to get information out of me, all they would need to do is wiggle their fingers in my general direction and I would spill my guts.
I’m that much of a wimp.
I used to try to fight back, but Kevin has about 80 pounds on me, so it was often a losing battle. Finally, we agreed to draw up a Tickle Treaty in 2000. Fourteen years later, neither of us has broken the treaty, which means that Kevin has been having to do something with his sadistic impulses.
They have been bubbling and brewing and building for those 14 years. At last, he has met the ying to his tickling yang, because she loves it.
Until she doesn’t.
This is when I call out my final warning, “Somebody’s going to get hurt in a second.”
Sophie laughs and giggles and thrashes, her limbs go flailing and she looks something like the Tasmania Devil from Looney Toons. It’s all fun and games until, eventually, she starts screaming for him to stop.
This is when he should stop.
Of course, if he does stop, she begs him to start all over again.
But if he doesn’t stop (because he knows this, because she’s still giggling her irresistible giggle) invariably Kevin gets a swift kick to the groin.
I have to bite a hole in my tongue to keep from saying, “Now what did I just say?” in the teacher voice that makes everyone want to punch me in the nose.
Instead, I shake my head and throw up my hands. As Kevin rolls around in agony, Sophia is already taunting him, “Daddy….you can’t get me….”
And out of nowhere, Kevin gets his second wind and goes for her underarms.
I slip into another room. It’s better if I don’t watch.