moments of pure joy. The joy part is actually the next day's cartoon, by the way.
Now, I've only got one little hobbit, most families have more, so they understand parenting far more than I can possibly claim to knowing. The national average is 2.5 kids. At least that's what I remember as a statistic when I was in elementary. I've researched it once, that's good enough. 2.5. So, if you can manage to get by the mental image that these average households have two whole children and one half-child (is it split right down the middle, King Solomon style?), then you could probably have a lot of fun designing their Christmas card photos.
"Oh, look at the nice card the Thompsons gave us, isn't that love-. Well, that was silly. They placed Bobby on the far side of the frame for some reason, he's only halfway in the shot...now why - Oh, that's right. Nevermind. Where's the eggnog?"
But, regardless of how many of the little stain-making, poopy-smelling little barfbags parents have, they are just that, parents. Parents, by definition, have kids, and they try to take care of them best they can. And, unless they're completely heartless monsters, parents will do just about anything for their kids. Only real jerks would leave their kids in a lurch to fend for themselves, like being abandoned at a train station with twenty bucks pinned to their shirt and a rudimentary map to Gramma's drawn on a dirty napkin. I would never do that. I'd use a clean napkin. Unless, of course, the kid has received countless parental and police warnings and is still getting into trouble for doing stupid shit. In that case, I too could easily become a heartless monster in order to teach that little punk a lesson.
We'd take bullets for our children. We support their dreams and ambitions so they can be happy in everything they do. And, like in the Calvin & Hobbes strip above, we'll go out of our way to try and find whatever childhood treasure they may have inadvertently lost just to keep those little smiles from fading.
So hap-py toge-theerrrrr.....bumba da bum badum ...I can't see me lovin' nobody but you, for all my li-i-i-i-ife!
A few days ago, we were in the big city, going in and out of countless stores, running all sorts of errands. Our little shrimp always brings his helicopter along for car rides, usually leaving it behind in the car when we go into a store. At our final stop at yet another big box store, he asked to bring his helicopter inside with him; no problem, we've done it before. We did our thing, came back into the car, and enjoyed the hour long trip back home to Nowheresville. Once there, we released the little ragamuffin from his car seat while we unloaded the car's contents into the house, and after a few minutes we were asked, Where helitawker?
My heart sank. Only then did I realize something; when I pulled our little guy from the shopping cart at the end of our last modest spending spree, I couldn't remember if he had his little blue helicopter in hand as he usually did. I never paid attention to it. I thought about it more, registering that I didn't even pay close attention to which kid I was loading into the car. I mean, it's so automatic to just transplant whichever kid is in my grocery cart at the time into the car. I never really make a distinctive effort to recognize my kid's facial features as I'm strapping him in, to be honest. It wouldn't be hard to put the effort in, a quick scan would be all that's required.
"Hmm, messy, brown hair, impish smile, blindingly white outer shell...yup, that's mah boy."
And, hey, don't judge me. Do you ever make a conscious inventory of your kids? Oh? Fine. Give yourself a gold star, then. I'm just saying, unless the kid I'm loading up is a noticeable photo negative of mine, I might not notice right away. Likely, after several minutes of speaking to me in Swahili, I might have my suspicions. But probably not before I thought to myself He learned another language while we were shopping? Gad-dam that boy is smart!
Anyway, we searched the car, the garage, the house, outside, absolutely anywhere this helicopter toy could have ended up. And here's the thing about our little boy: he always, always makes a mental note to himself regarding the whereabouts of his little blue chopper. You ask him at any time of day where his toy is and he will tell you or point you exactly where he left it sitting. Except this time. This time it was beyond his recollection and he was getting more and more upset the longer we couldn't find it. Our hearts broke at seeing how much distress he was in, having lost what was probably the second most important thing to him (his great-Oma's knitted blanket is number one, my wife would probably be number three, and I'd be surprised if I got into the top ten; hey, I know where I stand, I'm okay with it.)
While my wife tried to console our little man like only a mother can, I searched fruitlessly countless times to see if I could find it, even cleaning out the car top to bottom. We agreed neither of us had seen the helicopter since even before heading back home and could see no other explanation than it was left at the store. And, though the store would still be open late into the night (those kinds of massive retailers won't miss any opportunity to make a sale), my wife was working early the next morning and I couldn't leave her with an inconsolable infant to go drive over two hours on a fool's errand. With heartbreaking shudders and breathless gasps as he tried to sleep, my little boy lay in his bed, mourning the loss of his little blue helicopter.
The next morning, with marginal sleep, I awoke to find my kid kneeling in the kitchen, looking up at the counter, which was always the overnight perch for his helicopter toy. He turned to me, sadness in his eyes, but no tears, and simply asked, Helitawker? Yeah, good luck getting anything done at home with that hanging over your head, right? So, I grabbed the kid and the keys, threw him in the car, and headed on a pointless mission to try and find his helicopter at the only place I could think of. We got to the store, I searched under countless dusty product shelves and around corralled shopping carts, and I asked far too many employees, like a complete schmuck, if anyone had seen a small, blue helicopter. Nothing from nobody. And, for the record, I really enjoyed getting all those weird stares from everyone.
Needless to say, I came up empty. Return trip, we drove over two hours for absolutely nothing. It was a shot in the dark, but as a semi-functional adult and parent, it was my duty to do whatever I could to restore my child's happiness and maintain his innocence for as long as I could. Problem was, my kid was still crying for his helicopter. So, on the drive back, I made a few phone calls, and my boss happened to have an extra one of those things. They were sent as novelty items direct from the Robinson helicopter company last Christmas, and each of us employees received one as a small part of our holiday spoilings. My little guy adopted mine as soon as his bright little eyes settled on it for the first time. Anyway, I picked up a generous bribe for my boss, made a quick detour on the way home, and soon was able to present a nice, new, and still very blue helicopter to my child. His face lit up like it was Christmas all over again, making every effort in the pursuit of helicopter gratification worth it.
He was still waving it around in the air when I pulled up to the house and into the garage. He busied himself making helicopter noises while I pulled him out of his car seat, smiling like every child should.
Sudden inspiration struck me. It was a beautiful day outside, things were back to normal, and I thought we should go out and enjoy some quality father and son time. Want to go sledding? I asked the little guy. He jumped up, hands in the air and exclaimed a loud Yeeeeaaa! so the plan was set. I went to grab the sled from the garage and found the original helicopter, parked precariously on the sled's plastic brake lever, impossibly smug.
SON OF A B-