October 8, 2014
Today was a terrible day. A terrible, very bad day. A day that rivals Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (#intheatersnow, #paidsponsorshipavailable) and the horrible days of so many others I know. Like the day my friend Becky couldn't find her keys only to find out she had left them in the ignition with her car running overnight. Or like the time my dad went to work and walked around campus all day with my mom's bra hanging out of the hood of his jacket.
But this wasn't their bad days or my bad day. It was Keyni's very bad day. What made it worse than a typical bad day, however, was that it was an Uncle Jordy Wednesday. Our Wednesdays are supposed to be special and so this story of a bad day should be understood within a context of an 8 year old's expectations for a very good day falling from pie in the sky high down to the depths of a bottomless mud pit (more about this later).
To add visuals to this representation of what should have been a perfectly pastoral fall day at the pumpkin patch, here is how it was supposed to look:
All of these comic book-worthy bumps and scrapes (and corn stuck to Keyni's incisor) are nothing, however, compared to what would happen during the hour before we were scheduled to leave the orchard.
Just a couple of times down the big slide, we decided, and then we would pick out a pumpkin to take home and send Keyni off with his dad for a nice relaxing dinner. So down he slid.
Then up he got to return to the top. But before he could make it more than a few feet, down again went his foot, followed by his ankle and then his knee-not down a big slide this time, but into a big muddy swamp hole. Next to the slide on the path back up to the top, was a walk-in closet-sized bottomless mud pit that tried to make a quick meal of Keyni. The swamp was cleverly disguised with a dried layer of mud on top so that it was invisible to the tasty prey that might traverse it. When an unknowing victim would step foot on top, its crusty layer gave way to a sticky, gooey underbelly of muck that sucked in the limbs of its prey and ceased to let go. Luckily, we saved the child's leg, but with one giant SCHLOP! the puddle swallowed Keyni's shoe whole.
Do you see a shoe in here? Neither could we.
From afar, I could not understand why Keyni wouldn't simply bend down and pick up his shoe. Once I got a closer look, however, the depth of the situation became clear. We needed a shovel. I ran to seek help and gave Granna a yard stake to poke at and anger the beast hoping it would release it's fresh catch.
Fully equipped with stick and the flimsiest shovel you've ever seen, they dug into the pit as I painstakingly photographed the traumatic experience for your entertainment. As they toiled, I also provided interference answering the thousands of questions from children who walked past.
Random Kid: Whatcha doin'?
Me: Looking for my little brother. You haven't seen him, have you?
Random Kid: Whatcha doin'?
Me: It costs $5 and you get to jump in to try to find a prize!
A minimum of 45 minutes passed and I had already called it, "Time of death: 4:30 pm." And just when everyone was ready to join me in defeat, my mom gathered all of her instincts and narrowed her focus on the North end of the pit. Our staff helper followed her lead and began to dig with one last ditch effort.
Can you see it now?
How about now?
There it is!
We rescued the shoe. But by now, too much time has passed and we are terribly late, horribly dirty, and very badly disappointed. For the first time ever, we left the pumpkin patch: without a pumpkin.
The moral of Disney's new film, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, is that we need to experience bad days in order to appreciate the good ones. It's a bit pacifying for my taste. Yes, Little Orphan Annie, the sun will come out tomorrow. But we don't all have Daddy Warbucks to save us and besides that, can't I just take my gloomy moment with a cup of tea without your optimistic lump of sugar please?
But if I must add a sunny-side up ending, it would be this: It was becoming a bit of a challenge to keep up with the expectations that have grown around my midweek time together with my nephew. Keyni's no good day is just the opportunity I needed to hit the reset button on Uncle Jordy Wednesday. For the next few weeks, if I can keep Keyni safe from carnivorous mud holes I'll have made great strides and improvements in my hosting duties. In fact, with this low, I just have to make sure my car runs and show up. If I'm truly clever, I could milk this through Christmas time and the holiday gift exchange.
"A clean shoe that matches the one I already have?!? UNCLE JORDY YOU ARE THE BEST!"
Why yes. Yes, I am. Daddy Warbucks, you've been schooled.