Clara wanted to ride the tractor with Jon while he harvested the hay, but it was always hard telling who enjoyed the rides together more. Clara watched the hay disappear under the tractor and reappear in bales behind them. She asked … "Daddy, you are mowing the grass?"
Jon said, "It's like that, but this is hay, and I am harvesting it. The hay will feed our animals this winter."
Clara asked, "The animals eat it?"
Jon said, "Yes."
Clara asked, "But, hmmm, do the animals … not mind that … that the machine eats the hay and pooh-poohs it out?"
Jon said, "The machine just packages it. It doesn't do anything to the hay to make it bad for the animals to eat. The hay just has a little ride and gets hugged and tied up."
Clara said, "Oh. Is that good?"
Jon said, "Very good."
Clara said, "Okay. Can I go now? I want to ride."
Jon said, "You have to "stay" to ride the tractor. If you "go" you cannot ride the tractor. Do you want to stay or go?"
Clara said, "Go, please."
Jon said, "Okay, Honey. Do you want me to stop the tractor?"
Clara said, "No" and lept 20 feet through the air and into the field.
Jon said to himself, "I guess I'm on my own again."
Jon could barely hear Clara over the sound of the machinery, but he could hear her giggling. He couldn't tell where she was because the hay was so high. Then he clearly heard a loud ripple of laughter. The sound of Clara laughing hysterically got louder and then diminished and faded into the distance. Then he heard it all too familiar sound. One of the pistons on the tractor wasn't firing. He wished he had used the tractor Clara fixed for him -- but that was usually kept hidden in an out building so no one could realize what she had done to it and possibly figure out that she was no ordinary farm girl. He finished bailing the row of hay that he was working on and headed back to the barn.
Jon parked the tractor, then looked back into the field for any sign of Clara. He blinked a few times because he knew he couldn't be seeing what he thought he was. He decided that Clara was carrying a bale of hay back to the barn for some reason. As the bail got closer to the barn, Clara's laughter got louder. He had thought that Clara was carrying the bail in front of her, but now he could see that her legs were sticking out from the bottom of the bail. His daughter had become a walking bale of hay.
Jon ran to his truck, got his camera and snapped a few pictures. Clara kept giggling and walked right up to him. Jon said, "You're such a silly girl!" Clara laughed harder. Jon said, "Why don't we walk on into the barn and let the horses eat you up?" Jon and Hay Girl walked into the barn. Jon said, "Clara, get yourself out of there. We need to talk a little bit."
Clara asked, "Are the horses going to eat me now?"
Jon said, "No, you are too sweet for them. You would give them cavities. Clara, come on out." Clara began pushing the hay off herself. Jon asked, "Doesn't it bother you being in their? Isn't that like being in a small room?"
Clara said, "No, Daddy, this is like having clothes made of grass … hay!"
Jon asked, "How about the combine and bailer? You were inside the machine. How can you stand that when you can't stand being in a truck?"
Claire said, "I closed my eyes, and it tickled me!"
Jon said, "How about next time we go into town, you ride inside the truck? You can keep your eyes closed and your Mom will tickle you."
Clara shouted, "NO!" For the first time, her happy attitude was gone and her voice was deadly serious as she said, "Don't talk about that, okay? I want the machine to tickle me again."
Jon said, "That's not what I was going to talk to you about anyway. I think the machine has tickled you enough. How about if I tickle you?"
Clara said, "Please, no."
Jon said, "Okay, so we'll talk. Do you know what would happen if another little girl did what you just did?"
Clara said, "You would spank her?"
Jon said, "No. We don't spank. We talk. Your mom and I don't hit people … especially children. If a child that wasn't a special like you are went into that machine, they would get hurt very, very badly … maybe even killed." Jon looked to Clara for some reaction, but she just stood and stared at him with her big, dark eyes. Jon said, "So, if a little boy or girl got caught in the machine, what would they do?"
Clara said, "Cry?"
Jon said, "That's correct. They would probably scream as well. And what do you do, if you get caught in the machine?"
Clara said, "LAUGH!"
Jon said, "Well, that's okay if only you and me are there, but not if anyone else is there."
Clara asked, "How about Krypto Two … and Robin Rabbit … and … and Streaky cat … and the horses and the cows?"
Jon said, "Animals are okay, just not other people. And Barbie and Ken and, of course, Mommy can see you laugh too, but if there are other people around and if something happens to you that would hurt another little girl, I want to do pretend like it hurt you too."
Clara asked, "Isn't that against the Bible?"
Jon said, "It's not nice to lie to people or fool them, but you need to protect your secret. We talked about that before. Do we need to talk about that again now?"
Clara said, "NO! Don't talk. I don't want to hear about people who take me away!"
Jon said, "Okay. That's good. I don't want to talk about that either."
Clara asked, "When is lunch ready?"
Jon said, "Soon, Dear, Mom will let us know. We still need to talk about you pretending to be hurt. Do you remember what being hurt feels like from when you lived in the other place far away?"
Clara said, "No. Well. Kind of."
Jon said, "Well, if something would hurt someone else and it happens to you, shout "Ouch!" Okay?"
Clara asked, "What hurts?"
Jon said, "I don't know how to show you."
Clara walked over to John's workbench and picked up a hammer. She asked, "Would this hurt?" She swung the hammer against her head, and the wooden handle broke in two. Jon winced, imagining what that would have felt. Clara's face bunched up, and she shouted, "OH, DADDY! I BROKE IT! I BROKE YOUR TOY!"
Jon said, "No, Honey. Don't worry about the hammer. But that face you are making … that is the right face to make if you are in pain. Can you make that face, if you want to?"
Clara said, "I don't want to. It might get stuck that way!"
Jon asked, "Who told you that your face will get stuck in an expression?"
Clara answered, "Mrs. Lang."
Jon said, "Well, that's not true. Your face won't get stuck. It's important that you can make that face again any time you want to. Please try to make that face again. … Okay! That's pretty good. Now keep making that face and say ’Ouch!’”
Clara said, "Ouch!"
Jon said, "OUCH!!" Clara was a little startled and jumped back. Jon said, "Say, ‘OUCH!!’”
Clara shouted, "OUCH!"
Jon said, "Say it while you're making that face."
Clara bunched up her face and said, "IT!"
Jon said, "Make that face and say ‘OUCH!’"
Clara shouted, "OUCH!!"
Jon said, "That's fine. I think you've got it."
Clara asked, "But WHAT HURTS?!"
Jon said, "I don't know how to …."
Clara said, "Hit me. Hit me so hard that would hurt any other little girl. Then I'll know."
Jon looked at her for awhile and then said, "I couldn't do that."
Clara said, "But then I won't know when to ouch."
Jon said, "If I hit you now, you WILL understand that I'm not mad at you or trying to hurt you. Right?"
Clara answered, "Right."
Jon said, "Cause I love you. Okay?"
Clara said, "Okay." Jon reached over and picked up Clara and hugged her. Clara said, "OUCH!!"
Jon said, "That shouldn't hurt."
Clara said, "Okay." Jon patted her on the butt. Clara said, "OUCH!!"
Jon put her down and said, "I'm sorry. That shouldn't hurt either. Here. I will hit you a few times softly, and these shouldn't hurt." Jon slapped her bottom of few times. He said, "Now this should annoy you, but not hurt badly." Jon hit her a few more times. He said, "Any harder than that would be an ouch."
Clara said, "Show me, Daddy!"
Jon said, "I don't want to hurt you."
Clara asked, "Are you going to hit me as hard as I hit myself with the hammer?"
Jon answered, "No, of course not."
Clara said, "The hammer didn't hurt me, so what you do won't hurt me either."
Jon said, "Okay, here goes." Jon slapped for hard on the bottom and shouted, "OUCH!!"
Clara said, "Why did you shout? I thought it was my ouch!"
Jon said, "Hitting you hurt my hand."
Clara said, "Oh!" Clara ran to a place by the door and came back with a baseball bat. She said, "Hit me with this, but don't hit too hard or you'll break it! I might want to play with it later."
Jon said, "Clara, I couldn't do that!"
Clara said, "Please! I don't want you to hurt your hand, Daddy!"
Martha had decided to surprise Clara and Jon with a picnic by the pond. She went out the kitchen door with a picnic basket and headed for the barn. She heard Jon say, "Louder, Clara."
Martha walked in the barn door and saw Clara facing the wall. Her hands were resting against the wall and she was leaning against it. Martha was immediately concerned by the look of agony on Clara's face. Then she saw Jon pull back the baseball bat and swing. The bat struck Clara squarely across the shoulders. Clara shouted, "OUCH!!"
Martha dropped the picnic basket in shock. Jon struck Clara three more times before Martha ran and jumped on his back. Martha began pounding Jon on his head and shouting, "HOW LONG, JON?! HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BEATING MY BABY?! HOW COULD YOU?!!"
While Martha was shouting at him, Jon was shouting, "OUCH!! MARTHA, STOP! OUCH!! I CAN EXPLAIN, MARTHA! OUCH!!!"
Clara said, "Daddy! You are SO GOOD! I will never be as good an oucher as you are!"