For the first time in a very long while, my wife and I were forced to leave the kids with relatives for a couple days. The back story there is long and tortuous, but it’s not important. What is important is that one morning found me saying goodbye to the kids and giving them those last minute parental instructions that are somehow supposed to keep them safe during a time that neither I nor my wife are available to do that job.
I started with the five year old. “You have fun, big guy.”
He smiled at me. “Okay, bye!”
“You have two jobs while we’re gone, right?”
He nodded. “Right.”
“What are they?”
“To keep yourself safe, and to keep your little brother safe. Got it?”
“And to listen to the grownups.” He corrected.
“Sure, but even more important than that – you keep yourself safe and your little brother. Right?”
He gave me the big thumbs up, so I headed out into the house to find his little brother.
“Hey big guy, how are you doing?” I said. My life is a little more complicated now that they both want to be called “big guy”
He smiled. “Fine.”
“Do you know what your #1 job is when we’re gone?”
He nodded. “To listen to the grownups.”
“To keep yourself safe.” I corrected.
He looked at me like I was nuts. “What?”
“Keep yourself safe. Don’t get hurt. No hurting yourself.”
He laughed. “That’s a new rule!”
“No, it’s not. You’re never allowed to hurt yourself.”
“Okay, it’s a new rule. No hurting yourself.”
He nodded. “Okay, daddy. I won’t.”