Famous Last Words

The kids and I played a new game today. I saw Renata tying a strip of cloth around her eyes, which gave me the idea to drag everyone in to the living room to play "Firing Squad"! Hurray! The kids absolutely loved it, and by the end of it were begging not only to be lined up against the wall one more time, but asking when we'd get to play it again.

My wife was pretty weirded out, but the results speak for themselves.

The kids all ran to grab their toy rifles. I then explained to them that they were pretending to be captured spies or soldiers whom the enemy was going to execute. I gave them a couple of historical examples, and got ready to step against the wall first, in order to give them a model. But L'il Joffre really wanted to be first, so I went last, after they'd each been through a couple of times.

I blindfolded each kid in turn, put a pipe stem in their mouths, and acted as the firing squad's sergeant. I asked each kid if he had any last words. which they uttered, upon which I ran my squad through a ready, aim, fire. And of course, the pretend deaths were a lot of fun.

I'm actually glad the kids didn't hear my last words, "I only wish this cigar had been tastier", until the end. They loved it, but I'm sure it would have impacted what they actually chose to say. This way I got just them. And their effects on each other, of course.

They begged to go through twice, which I suppose is natural...you want to get these sorts of things right, no? How often do you get two chances at last words? Although I've put away childish and romantic ways of thinking about death, I think it's good to think about how one will die. It makes you confront ideas of good and courage in a very immediate way.

And you find out a lot about your kids when you're hearing their imagined last words. Try it.

[caption id="attachment_9330" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="This kid went first. His last words were "I wish I could fight more" and "May my country survive." He's the earnest one."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_9332" align="aligncenter" width="236" caption="This is the baby. His last words were "alligators!" and something mumbled about country and war inspired by his siblings."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_9331" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="I think this guy looked most natural in his role. The first time I asked him if he had any last words, he firmly said "No." At his second execution he imitated his big brother's wish to continue fighting."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_9333" align="aligncenter" width="329" caption="She asked if there are girl spies. She just read about girl spies, so I guess she just wanted confirmation from me. There are girl spies. And she doesn't know she was almost named after a woman who assassinated a king. Her first go-round was "I'm sorry I have to die this way", which wins the Oscar. The second was a prayer for country."][/caption]


  1. Alligators!
    I like that Joffre wants his country to survive and is wearing a Brazil shirt.

  2. I'm proud that he used the subjunctive.


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