My kids like to play general knowledge quiz with us. No specific rules, just various questions and answers. Since Kimmy is obviously a bit young to have answers to more advanced questions, we expressly target easier questions at her.
At some point recently, I had the bright idea to ask her who was the President of the United States. She thought for a second and pronounced: “Hamburger Lincoln“.
Since then, the poor Lincoln has become quite useful in terms of lightening the mood – mentioning his thus-adjusted name tends to diffuse potential I’m-sad-and-I’m-possibly-gonna-cry situations. It also helps with Kimmy’s strange bell-o-phobia.
Kimmy is afraid of bells. One day in April, climbing a tower in Siena, she ran ahead up the stairs and then saw something in relation to the huge bell that sits by one of the landings that left a serious impression on her psyche. She gets hysterical in close proximity of any bell – or even when hearing one ring – and hides in my clothes when recognizing a bell tower nearby. I had to abandon my ascent to the top of Amsterdam’s Westerkerk – there are several dozens of bells along the way. We had to run away from St Paul’s Cathedral during a wedding ceremony there. I had to literally drag Kimmy across the courtyard of a castle last week, where a bell was hanging in the corner…
She’ll certainly grow out of it soon enough, as she is otherwise a well-adjusted, if a bit excitable, girl. But occasionally, this affliction causes us discomfort.
Such as at the beginning of our stay in the Loire Valley, when we realized that the row of cottages at the château where we had our rooms was crowned by a medium-sized bell. Kimmy was emphatically not willing to go near it, which presented an obvious logistical problem of getting into the rooms.
And that’s where Lincoln came to the rescue. For no specific reason, I told Kimmy to think Hamburger Lincoln and not think about bells. She started repeating the words as a mantra, and within a few seconds tentatively but steadily we proceeded towards our doors.
On subsequent occasions, she broke into the chant as soon as she realized that she was out and near that bell, and by the end of our stay was openly not afraid of the thing anymore. She even managed to no more than wince on a couple of other occasions with bells present, while whispering her magic incantation. It did not work all the time – suddenly coming into a view of a large bell remained a problem, but the old President certainly helped aplenty.
Can’t imagine Dubya being much of help if she got the initial question right…