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Leave Him Where He Is; He's Only Sleeping

(Ten points to anyone who recognized the
Beatles song in the title, and twenty points if you know it’s
from the Revolver album – but I digress!)

So we had open gym for the last time last week, as I mentioned, and
we closed the place down, as I also mentioned. What I failed to add
was that we stayed about thirty seconds too long, for we were there
to witness them cleaning up and shutting off the bounce house
– a big dragon in whose innards the kids would jump and
jostle. And as the coaches pulled the plug on the dragon, it did
what any suddenly stilled bounce house will do –

It collapsed.

And Cora screamed.

Cora was convinced the dragon had died,
and totally freaked out. We spent several minutes reassuring her
that the dragon was not dead – it was merely nap-nap time,
and the dragon was going to sleep. “The dragon’s just
going nap-nap!” she sobbed to herself as I carried her to the
car. My poor baby was certain the dragon had suffered a fatal heart
attack, or that the children hadn’t loved it enough, or
whatever neglectful thing it is that can slay a dragon in a
toddler’s mind.

I have to confess that the incident then dropped completely from my
mind – until the weekend, when we returned to the gym for
Maddie’s party. And sure enough, there was the dragon,
upright and ready for fun.

Except that Cora couldn’t stop worrying about him.

When we first walked in and went to set up in the party room, Cora
couldn’t believe her eyes. “The dragon’s not
going nap-nap!” she said over and over, more to convince
herself than spread the news. “Nope, he’s not going
nap-nap. He’s going to stay awake the whole time,” I
confirmed as I scrambled to get the Ariel tablecloths on the party
tables. “The dragon will not go nap-nap!” she yelled at
the picture window, waving her hand over the dragon’s head as
if casting a spell to make sure he wouldn’t collapse. Not on
her watch, my friend.

For the next several minutes, Cora paced in front of the window,
her eyes never leaving the dragon. “He’s not going to
sleep! He’s staying awake the whole party!” she yelled
at anyone who walked in the door. Every once in a while she’d
lose track of the sound of his “breathing” – the
air being blown into him to keep him upright. “Can you hear
the dragon? I can’t hear him! I can’t hear him!”
she’d scream frantically, her ear pressed against the glass.

“Cora, if the dragon were going nap-nap and got quiet,
you’d see him start to snuggle down. Look at him
–he’s still standing up! He’s ok! You just
can’t hear him breathing right now!” Once she had to go
out on the stairs to listen for the big guy.

As the guests arrived, Cora was successfully distracted from her
death watch and began to have fun. When we hit the floor for play
time, though, she kept an apprehensive eye on the green guy for a
while. She finally went over and stood in front, staring straight
up in his looming face for several seconds – perhaps judging
his overall health before daring to venture inside, lest he
collapse upon her. Then she set her shoulders, steeled herself, and
went inside.

The rest of the party went off without a scaly hitch, and I meant
to keep it that way. Which is why, as we were leaving, I went over
to the guy in charge of cleanup and said, “If you value your
life, watch us walk away and then count to 100 before pulling the
plug on the beast.”

White-faced, the poor kid stood frozen in his spot as we piled out
the door. Did he count to 100? I don’t know. But I do know
that he didn’t make a move towards the plug until we were out
of sight, and that’s good enough for me.


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