Weekly column from Dave Manley: You can be whatever your children want you to be.
My 4-year-old daughter did not sound happy. I could hear her sigh heavily from the other room, a reaction to some very bad news.
"I'm not hearing many heart beeps, Mom," she told my wife, shaking her head.
She explained that when your heart beeps are down, you need a new heart. My poor wife.
"We're going to have to do surgery," she said.
With the help of a few Play-Doh tools and her little sister, minutes later she completed a successful transplant.
They grow up so fast. One day they are pretending to be a magical princess, and literally the next day they are doing heart transplants.
One of those things they never tell you when you become a parent is that you will cease to be an individual and instead become about 1,000 different people. You'll be an evil monster trying to take away the kingdom's magic, and a patron at the latest pop-up restaurant in the basement. Sometimes, you'll be a king; sometimes, a horsey. And sometimes, you'll be a patient without a heart beep.
You can be whatever your children want you to be.
When I got home from work one day, my daughter presented me with a very elaborate map.
"Dad! Look at this ancient treasure map I found," she said thrusting it into my face. "It's very old and ancient."
I was astounded. How, I asked her, could such an ancient manuscript end up in our house, in the hands of a 4-year-old?
"I found it," she said.
"I didn't know they used crayons back then," I said.
"They like crayons because there are a lot of colors," she said. "I think it leads to treasure, we should follow it."
Sometimes, you'll have to be a treasure hunter.
She determined that it was a map of our house, and each "X" led to treasure. I followed her lead as we moved to her bedroom to discover a very valuable and colorful plastic gem.
"Wow," I said, "we could sell this jewel to fund our expedition for years."
"Yes," she said while shaking her head no. "Or we could put it in this little box and look at it from time to time."
I put it in the box.
We ventured on, jumping over large chasms between the couches and dodging a wild and hungry black panther, who looked suspiciously like our cat. Soon enough we had collected a rich bounty of My Little Pony figures, gems and exotic (stuffed) animals.
With an arm load of booty, I inquired about our next move. She put the map down and held her arms out wide.
"Now, we're going to do gymnastics," she said.
"Or, we could quietly read a book on the couch," I countered.
"No, we are gymnastics people now," she said. "They don't like to read, they like to do gymnastics."
When you become a parent, you accept the many roles you are asked to play.
At least she didn't make me wear a leotard.
David Manley is a husband and father of two girls. He also is The Canton Repository's visual content editor. Share your stories with him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: @DaveManley.