I don't know if it's because they have brothers to play with now or if it's a natural stage of development, but daughters' idea of fun has become a lot rougher.
We're kind of stuck because it makes us laugh so hard that we don't nip it in the bud as we should have.
My girls, Katie, 3, and Nikki, 2, love to pretend they're choking someone. I don't know where they picked that up, but I do know why they keep doing it.
It's because the first time they did, I stuck my tongue out to the side, gagged and crossed my eyes.
They think that's hilarious.
Me, I'm torn. I'm a big fan of just about anything that makes them laugh and, they are very gentle, but ...
I'm not alone in doing what it takes to make them laugh. The first time Nikki said "no," to my 9-year-old stepson T.J. and pushed him away, he overreacted and fell backward into a somersault, causing Nikki to double over with laughter.
Now he encourages both girls to push him back so he can collapse and keep them entertained.
And it grows from there.
Our family activity the other night consisted of a lot of groans from big people and a lot of laughs from the little ones.
It started when I was laying on the floor, and Katie stepped onto and over by back -- only she hasn't learned the trick of adding a slight jump so that very little of your weight comes down onto someone's, say, spleen.
She got such a kick out of my groans that she went back and forth, and eventually Nikki joined her.
Nikki's not as coordinated, so I felt two small feet, heard a giggle, and then whooshed as she fell onto my back.
T.J. thought it looked like great fun, so he lay down next to me and became part of the circuit. Soon, Daddy joined in, as well as my 11-year-old stepson Alex. We fanned out like spokes on a wheel and the girls ran in circles, up and down and up and down.
Thank God they don't weigh much.
They ran until they just couldn't do it anymore -- especially Nikki, who, halfway through the activity, was skipping Daddy and me because she couldn't lift her legs.
The girls didn't raise any objections when bedtime came and slept well.
They seem to know when hurting is for fun and when it's real.
Last night, Nikki stood up right into my face and split my lip. She knew immediately I was in pain and reacted instantly with "sorry" in her cute 2-year-old voice.
Then she put both little hands on either side of my face, kissed my cheek and said "all better."
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.