Lullaby and Goodnight….
Ever since my son was an infant, he’s been lulled to sleep at night by a series of lullabies played softly through a plush giraffe.
“Giraffe,” as he’s been creatively named, has traveled with us on vacations and back and forth between our home in the Boston area and our lake house in Maine nearly every weekend for four years and without incident.
“Did you bring Giraffe?” My son always asks when we start his bedtime routine anywhere we’ve traveled.
“Of course!” I tell him. We’d never leave Giraffe behind!”
But, as it turns out, I’m a liar.
My son and I recently completed one of the 2016 To-Do items I outlined in a post I wrote entitled….I Wish I May, I Wish I Might….when we traveled to my home state of Ohio for a long weekend. Of course, Giraffe was packed safely for the trip and upon arrival at my dad’s, displayed on a small shelf beside the bed in our room.
Each night, after we’d read another chapter of The Mouse and the Motorcycle and after singing You Are My Sunshine….all of which are also a part of his bedtime routine….he would remind me to turn on Giraffe before leaving the room.
When it came time to return home, I spent half our departure day checking and re-checking to ensure I had packed every single one of my son’s matchbox cars, every super hero figurine and tiny accessory, his beloved stuffed elephant, books, his drinking cups, the chargers for our electronics and all of our clothing and toiletry items.
I packed the snacks I knew my son would want on the flight, downloaded a new movie to his iPad and did at least ten additional sweeps throughout the house….checking underneath the furniture, behind doors, under the bed and inside of my dad’s vehicle…. for anything that might have been missed on previous sweeps.
As we boarded the plane, I was sure I had remembered everything.
As soon as we got home and I began to unpack our things and prepare my son for bed, I knew I had not remembered everything….Giraffe had been left behind.
I felt terrible as my little boys big brown eyes welled with tears upon hearing the news that Giraffe was still at Grandpa’s and he would have to fall asleep to the sounds of a second rate music box that played Greensleeves far too quickly and far too loudly to bring him to a state of Zen.
After promising that Giraffe would make his way home soon, I immediately called my dad who wrapped Giraffe carefully in a secure box and put him on the next UPS truck to Boston. Crisis solved!
That is, until I ran Giraffe over with my car.
Our house sits on a hill with a high stone wall that lines our lawn and continues around, creating a half-circle effect in our driveway with a break in the wall for the front steps and our garage doors. Depending on the delivery driver and the size of the package being delivered, drivers will sometimes climb the steps to our front porch to deliver our packages, but other times, they will leave them against the wall in our driveway….just to the side of one our garage doors….but generally never directly in front of them.
There truly is a first time for everything though.
Giraffe must have been delivered at some point between the time I picked my son up from school and the time we headed out again to pick-up my step-children.
I always park in our garage and my habit has always been to load my son and myself into my SUV and then open the garage door from the driver’s seat using the opener in my car.
Why? Because, I’ve seen way too many true crime documentaries….so I reason that if someone were to be waiting on the other side of the garage door to murder me, I would be at an advantage to run them over with my car. True story.
Anyway, as I pulled out of the garage, I heard a horrible crunching noise.
Oh, no I thought. Did I just run over the dog? The neighbors dog? A small wild animal?
I slowly exited my car, dreading what I might find and what I found, was worse than running over my neighbors dog….it was a small brown box with my dad’s very neat and very distinct handwriting on the cover….it was Giraffe.
NO! I wanted to cry out, shaking my fist to the heavens. Why Giraffe!?
Realizing that my son was watching as I stood with the box in hand and a look of shock on my face….I slowly placed the box back onto the ground….removed the tape, opened the flaps and gasped in honor at the sight of Giraffe’s mangled remains.
From inside of the car, I heard my son’s voice call out….“What is it Mommy? What’s in the box?”
It was one of those rare….and hopefully once in a lifetime parenting moments….where I was reminded of the movie Seven. Specifically, the closing scene where the crazed killer….played by Kevin Spacey….and the police detectives….played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman….are gathered in an open field discussing the contents of a mysterious box.
“What’s in the Box?” Brad Pitt’s character, keeps asking over and over while Kevin Spacey’s creepy character taunts him and Morgan Freeman’s character attempts to regain control over the situation. Of course, it’s the worst case scenario….Brad Pitt’s wife in the move is Gwyneth Paltrow….it’s sadly her head that rests in the box.
As I stood, staring at Giraffe’s remains, the soft tufts of his spiky, yellow hair blew gently in the breeze….just like Gwyneth’s.
“What do you have?” my son asked. “What is it? Aw, what’s in the box?”
Dead dog, I wanted to say, but didn’t….because….well, I’ve vowed not to parent in the way my mother did.
“What’s in the fucking box?” my son asked….only he didn’t actually say fucking….it was more implied.
“Nothing.” I said….playing it far more casually than Morgan Freeman had….“Just some trash.”
I folded the lid of the box closed and gently placed it into the trash bin.
This will have a happy ending, I told myself as I walked over to where my son sat buckled in his car seat to give him a big hug and kiss.
Then I closed his car door and as I made my way back to the driver’s side, I said, under my breath….“You’re a movie of the week, UPS. You’re a brown fucking t-shirt at best.”