Most of the time Hollywood offers us a version of a life that we will never live. The fights are articulate, the messes are easy to clean up, and the clothes are rarely wrinkled. But occasionally, like, once in a blue moon, life plays out in such a way that you actually stop and think, “Wow, it’s just like in the movies.”

This happened to me the other day. I was giving Sage a bath and she was singing quietly to her rubber duck when suddenly and playfully she began asking me questions. “Who give me this duck?” she wondered aloud as she splashed about. “Nana” I said and I gave the duck a tender scratch. My daughter cooed in delight. “Who give me this soap?” She giggled. “Oh… I said. I think I gave you this soap. It was me, it was mommy!” I sang. “And who give me these feet?” She asked. “Excuse me?” I said. “Who give me these feet?” She repeated. Now there was intensity in her voice, like she was really getting down to business. “Well…I guess mommy and daddy gave you your feet. I mean if I had to say. Yeah, mommy and daddy.”

“And who give me eyes and ears and a mouth and a face? Who give me a face?”

Suddenly she was staring right at me. We were nose to nose and I was starting to feel overwhelmed, maybe even nervous. I glanced away for a minute, just to get my bearings. She was not pleased with my loss of focus. “Who give me a face?” She repeated with great intensity.

“Mommy and Daddy.” I squeaked, “And how about we wash that face” I continued, trying to change the subject.

Sage was having none of it. She was going to continue her line of questioning come hell or high water. She began bobbing up and down in the water as she shouted:

“Who give me mommy and daddy?”

“Uh, grandparents,” I said trying to keep my cool.

“Who give me grandparents?” She pressed on.

“Great grandparents” I answered.

“Who give me great?” She said as if spitting each word.

“Well” I said attempting to buy some time as I made up an answer, “Great? Like the word great? Hummm…. People. People over the years made words…now the words are in the dictionary. SO the dictionary gave you great.”

And just as I sat back to enjoy a brief moment of satisfaction for having busted out that answer she asked, “ Who give me the dictionary?” That’s when I started to feel sort of desperate, like I’d been spun around and around and could no longer tell which way was up and which was down.

She was not about to give me the chance to right myself. “Who give me ducks and cups and boats and fishes and buckets and blocks?” she persisted.

I took a deep breath “Auntie Jess, Grandma, Big Girl Alex…ummm daddy, no wait, Saba, I think…or maybe mommy, yeah mommy” I blurted out, trying to keep up.

Who give me this bath?” Sage continued.

“The landlord” I shot back.

And then she looked me square in the eyes and repeated, “Who give me the landlord!”

I was completely lost, “The landlord is not yours! The landlord is not yours!” I cried out feeling exhausted and weak.

And that is when it occurred to me: I was in an interrogation scene and it was playing out just like it does in the movies.  In true Hollywood fashion the scene had built slowly to its climax. Just like all the great interrogators she had started out like it was just a game, like she really couldn’t give a damn if I answered her questions or not. Then she had turned on the intensity, revealing the true seriousness of the situation. With her rapid-fire questions she had shown me who was in charge. Now she was preparing to break me.

With this thought I came out of my fantasy only to find my two-year-old standing in the tub. Her tiny fists were raised in the air, water dripped down her face, WHO GIVE ME THE LANDLORD???”  She shouted. And just like the poor victim in the movies I made a last ditch effort to save myself, “The landlord’s mommy and daddy?”  I responded meekly.

Sage sat back down. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this wasn’t going to play out like I thought after all. I lowered my head onto the bath mat and gazed up at the ceiling thankful for the moment of peace. And that’s when she quietly delivered the most difficult question of all; the final blow that would leave me in pieces.

“Who …give…me…water?” she asked.

I was a goner.

I couldn’t answer anymore. Sure I tried. “Um…the sky…or I mean rain…yea rain…nature…maybe nature gave you water?” But she just shook her head. It was hopeless. I was never going to satisfy her with my pitiful answers. If this were a movie there’d be only one thing left to do. She was going to have to shoot me.

And lucky for me this wasn’t a movie. It wasn’t Hollywood with all the glamour and drama and makeup. It was my life, my regular, silly, life. Instead of putting a bullet in my head my daughter ended the interrogation by answering the question for me.

“Mommy.” she said calmly, “The bath give me water.”

And I laughed, and she laughed and I laughed harder and she laughed harder. “Thank you for the water, bath!” she giggled.   “Thank you bath.” I said. And that was it. I picked her up, I wrapped her in a towel, we read some stories, and she fell asleep on my chest (just like in the movies).

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