Thingish Things

Another Proof of God

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - May• 28•11

My godfather, Jack O’Connell, was a pussycat of a man — at least where his children were concerned. When one of them had acted up in some way — I mean really acted up — my aunt would forewarn them, “Just wait ’til your father gets home.”

And when he did, Uncle Jack and child A, B, C, or D, would march grimly behind a closed door from which horrific cracking and slapping sounds would emerge, followed by stinging howls (this was the 1960’s.)

It wasn’t until after his death that everyone learned what went on back there.  The children were trained to yelp on command.  Uncle Jack would slap a pillow or crack his belt against a chair, and whichever cousin was in the dog house would cry out in pain synchronously — before muffling uncontainable laughter.

I seem to have taken a page from my godfather.  I can yell loudly and make a terribly angry face, but I cannot take the remorse. Within seconds of being stern I am overwhelmed by regret and maudlin thoughts including, “What if I die today and this is the last thing they remember of me? “

And so, like with so much of child rearing in our home, I abrogate almost all disciplinarian responsibility to my wife, Corrinne, who is half Italian and half Scottish, her latter half providing a preternatural facility to punish. If one of our children were to say, for example, “What if you die today and this is the last thing we remember of you?”, Corrinne would instinctively reply, “You better hope I die today.”

She’s that good.  A savant really.

But our four-year-old-daughter Georgia, a clever little thing, has just discovered a crack in her mother’s armor.  If Georgia is playing this, then she, too, is a savant, but in the ways of manipulation.

We have been teaching Georgia to pray, and last week, for the first time, she took us up on it.  Down on her knees she went, eyes tightly shut, fingers clasped together — with all the earnestness of a child that age — and when she emerged from her fervent prayer, her mother curiously asked her, “so what did you pray for Georgia?”

Georgia balked. (The perfect move.)

“Really, Georgia.  What did you pray for?”

“Nothing, mom. I was just praying.”

Fifteen minutes passed.

“Georgia, really, what did you ask God for?”

Georgia lowered her eyes to the ground, shuffled her feet and said, “I asked God for a nicer Mom.”

And you know what?  That mean mother of hers marched Georgia right down to the ice cream store and bought her a double scoop.

What we can’t figure out is whether the smile Georgia wore afterward was inspired by her certainty in God’s power or because she has stumbled across her mother’s Italian side.



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