All parents think, at some point, that their kids are possessed by demons. It's usually a figure of speech. Usually.

I'm sensing I may have a problem with my 4-year-old. We'll call her Lucy, because that's her name. But maybe we should call her Lucy-fer. I don't know if it's the growling or the eyes-rolled-back-in-the-head deal, but something may be amiss.

Every time another child gets near my wife, my sweet little girl flies toward my wife like a free safety going after a running back at the goal line. She growls like an rabid badger while wiggling her shoulders and kicking her legs, wedging herself between her mother and the other child.

Then the fun really begins.

Lucy hisses at her perceived competitor, which usually gets their attention. Then in that same demented Viking voice that little Regan used in "The Exorcist," she starts issuing threats in a language that can only be described as not of this Earth -- or any other.

We're hoping it's just a phase.

'Growling and hissing'

The other night, I came home and my wife pulled me aside to describe what happened when precious little Lucy's 10-year-old sister, Lorelei, had the nerve to sit next to her mother.


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"It was really weird," my then-calm wife explained. "She started the growling and hissing. Then she started yelling at Lorelei in that voice, saying things I couldn't understand. It was like another language. Lorelei was laughing at first. But then Lucy kept doing it. She started rolling her eyes. She meant it. Lorelei looked at me and said, 'Is this serious?' "

I'm afraid so.

My wife was out of town for a few days last week, leaving me in charge of the ranch. The children and I had a wonderful time; we watched movies and went for a walk, we read books. Everyone was singing and smiling -- it was kind of like a Disney movie before the witch tries killing everyone hotter than she is.

Then Lucy went to the little girls' room, and Lorelei made a near-fatal mistake.

She sat down next to me.

Uh, oh

Suddenly, a bright red light erupted from under the bathroom door. The door frame began shaking, and the sound of a large, angry buffalo bellowed throughout the house.

"LOR ... AH ... LEIIIIIIIIIIII!"

Apparently, someone got too close to Daddy.

The door flew open and a blur headed straight for me. Suddenly, I was in the middle of two children in a life-or-death struggle for the space next to me. I either had to pull them apart or call for help.

"OK," I said. "Everybody go to a different room. NOW."

With one last angry glance at her sister, Lucy barked, "MARJELBARB LORANOG!" at her sister and stomped into the next room.

Realizing I had to get myself together and act fatherly or something, I mopped the fear-sweat from my brow and went to the next room to speak with Lucy, who was now happily humming while playing with her toy kitchen, as if someone just didn't almost get killed.

"Honey," I said. "You can't do that to your sisters, or anyone else, any time they get near Daddy or Mommy. It's not right. You have to share your parents."

"OK, Daddy," she said, sweetly, all traces of possession gone. "I will."

Well, that went pretty well, I thought. I went into the kitchen to fix myself a snack when I heard a low voice from the vicinity of the toy kitchen:

"Heh heh, narbelgag, heh heh ..."

Contact Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com or at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks.