Of Octopuses, Pancakes, and Unicorns

Isn't it fun when words mean more than one thing?

Isn't it fun when words mean more than one thing?

If they ever make a mandatory parenting class you have to take before your new arrival, I hope they cover “multilevel conversations.” It’s that fine art of talking about more than one thing at the same time in the presence of our child. It’s a skill we’re still learning, and as PP get’s older, it’s a constantly moving target.

The other day was yet another snow day. We haven’t been getting nearly the socking as Boston, but here in Maryland the road crews are not nearly as prepared for even a moderate snow storm. Things shut down fast around here. When we first moved to the area, we were derisive of the wimpy approach to just a few inches of snow. After seeing first hand just how little snow-driving experience the average Marylander has, we became very appreciative of the discretion they show when the roads get sloppy.

It’s become a tradition in our family to use snow days as an excuse to walk out to the neighborhood IHOP for a pancake breakfast (or brunch, or even lunch, depending on how long we’ve spent shoveling snow.) This morning was no different, and we were suiting up for the unusually cold weather outside, and PP was selecting which of his "guys" would come with us. It was down to his favorite plushy, Dr. Kiki, or a collection of small plastic ponies, but he was looking unusually pensive.

“What’s up?” I asked. “You look worried."

"I’m worried that as I get older I’m not going to have as many adventures with Dr. Kiki."

Mrs. ‘Struction cut to the heart of the matter almost immediately. "Did the last chapter of the Winnie the Pooh book make you sad?"

He's been listening to the audiobook of “House on Pooh Corner” as he falls asleep. The last chapter is the one where Christopher Robin announces that he’s off to boarding school and other grownup activities and he won’t be playing with the likes Pooh anymore. I hate that chapter.

“Yeah,” he held Dr. Kiki close to him and fondled a tentacle. Maybe I should mention that Dr. Kiki is an octopus.

"Don’t worry,” Mrs. ‘Struction told him. “No matter what any book said, you can keep having adventures with your guys as long as you want."

"Are you sure? Christopher Robin had to go off and leave Pooh behind."

"That was almost a hundred years ago,” I reassured him. "Things are very different now. You’re not going to boarding school, and people have a very different kind of relationship with their plushies.

At this point Mrs. ‘Struction got that thousand-meter stare. "Don’t they ever."

I made a note to ask her what she’s been googling, but I’m guessing he searches for MLP-based sewing and knitting patterns have found some interesting designs.

PP seemed to make up his mind. “Ok.” He gave his octopus a hug and set her on the couch. "Kiki is going to stay home because it’s too cold for her outside.” He loaded up his pockets with Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and the rest, and we set off for IHOP.

Going to IHOP is a lot like childbirth. You seem to forget about the pain from the last time just enough that it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to do it again. The servings are huge, and having been raised in a family that almost never let food go to waste, I probably put in more of an effort into finishing than was prudent. In the end, I admitted defeat. I looked down on the remaining quadrant of my stack of "Harvest Grain and Nut" pancakes, feeling like an anaconda that had misjudged the size of that capybara. I wanted nothing but to lay on a warm rock for six months to try to digest.

“I think we need to go home, make a nest in the living room, and put something quiet and relaxing on the TV,” I suggested.

“How about some ponies,” PP chimed in. His interest in "the ponies" has never really waned, but it’s been particularly high since learning that we’re less than a month out from the start of the new season of MLP.

“I was thinking of something more relaxing, like Cbeebies Bedtime Stories That’s when inspiration struck. There was a perfect opportunity for a cross-over. Why not have Twilight Sparkle, the most bookish of all the ponies, reading calm and soothing bedtime stories. What’s more, there’s a quasi-precedent from the show. “Somebody should make Twilight Sparkle’s Slumber Party Stories."

While PP was enthusiastic, Mrs. ‘Struction looked got that distant look again. “I think I’m getting a very different image in my head.”

Oh. Right. My brain hadn’t gone there...at first. “You mean something like 'Here’s the story of when Cadance and Shinning find a unicorn?’"

“But Shining Armor is already a unicorn,” PP chimed in.

“Oh right. What was I thinking?"

Mrs. ‘Struction couldn’t respond as she was choking on her waffle.