Heads, Tails and Bodily Harm

It was 2009, and we were hanging out in the backyard. I asked Claire, who was then three years old, if she knew what a coin flip was.


Her sister Kate, age six, was only too happy to fill her in.


I demonstrated how to flip a coin and I told Claire that she could choose heads or tails. Then she would win or lose depending on how the coin fell. She seemed fascinated by the concept. I said, “Go ahead and try it!”

I was picturing this:


But instead, she started winding up like a pitcher ready to throw a fastball.


Then she hucked the coin across the backyard.


I was like, “No! Don’t throw it! Flip it!” But she darted over to the coin, totally ignoring me. She picked it up and once again threw it with all of her might. “You’ll take someone’s eye out!” I shouted.

Claire has a surprisingly strong arm, and things were getting dangerous. The coin was zooming around ricocheting off of things. I could hear Kate shrieking at me.


Claire would not stop. She kept throwing, then rushing over to the coin and just hucking it in whatever direction she was facing. She even lost it a few times when it flew into the plants.


But she kept producing more coins.


Where was this supply coming from!? It was too risky to investigate. I just had to hope it would run out soon.

After a while, Kate started yelling out things that they could flip for.

“Let’s flip to see who gets to pick a TV show later!” she yelled. Claire would throw the coin then run to it and announce, “you win!” or “I win!” And Kate would call out something else to flip for.


Soon they were using the coin to dictate every move. “Let’s flip to see who opens the door to the house.” “Let’s flip to see who takes the first step inside the house!”

Just when I thought I’d have to ambush her, Claire lost her final coin. She shot it over the wall and it disappeared into our neighbor’s yard.


I had to wonder: Did it hit the neighbor and take his eye out? Shoot. Someone should go check, but who?

We’d have to flip on it.


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