There comes a time in every child’s life when a hard truth needs to be learned.
For Penny, that time came during lunch the other day.
She asked a question to which there no easy answer — certainly no easy answer that’s truthful, anyway. So, because she’s 5 1/2 now and old enough to know how some things really work, I swallowed hard and I searched for just the right words.
I stalled, though, allowing her question to ruminate momentarily as I thought of the best way to let her down easy. So she asked again: “Daddy, why does Chuck E. Cheese not actually sing? And why doesn’t any music come from the instruments his gang is playing?”
Yeah, the time had come to inform her those things writhing around on the stage at her favorite pizza/game emporium weren’t animate.
“Well, Penny, Chuck E. isn’t singing because ... “
She quickly interrupted: “Because he’s a robot? They all are, huh?”
Maybe she knew that the entire time and she just enjoys seeing me squirm at the thought of swiping a small piece of her childhood from her. Maybe something clicked in hearing innumerable clicks and clacks every time Chuck E. blinked or twitched.
I’m not sure, but I don’t really care.
“Yes, I replied. They’re robots.”
“That’s why they never go to the bathroom either, huh?”
I laughed. “That’s right, sweetie.”
I let out a great sigh of relief. She and Rigby are both growing up quickly. With each day that passes, fewer and fewer of life’s mysteries remain mysteries to them. I can no longer hide Rigby’s nose or convince Penny we’re spending a day painting the house.
Intellectual advancement has its advantages. Our movies aren’t limited to the animated variety anymore. Rigby has started to understand baseball (he likes going to games to see home runs). Penny and I can discuss math problems she does at school (although it blows my mind kindergartners work on multiplication).