Finding the Funny November 8th, 2010
For the most part I have found that the funniest parenting stories come from the children; anecdotes in the Art Linkletter vein of kids’ quirky-but-accurate observations of the world. However, from time to time you come across a parent whose approach to the imperfect art of raising children is so brilliantly injected with humor that you can’t help but laugh at their genuine appreciation for the sometimes-absurd nature of this journey. And so it is that today I bring you the story of our friend J, and the demise of Milo McSpikerton.
I do not know what originally led to the adoption of Milo McSpikerton, but by some series of events (which I have no choice but to assume is similarly amusing) our friend J and his wife agreed to the acquisition of a hedgehog for their two young boys. But agree they did, and for the next two years Milo lived happily in a cage in their family room. Fresh cedar shavings, a spouted water bottle, and two boys who had been taught to be gentle with the naturally fearful creature kept young Milo well provided for and content.
Then, a few weeks ago J and his wife noticed that Milo was unusually still. Really still. That kind of still. Poor Milo was gone. The cause of death is still unknown. And Milo McSpikerton was summarily laid to rest in a field behind the family home. J created a tongue-in-cheek memorial PowerPoint presentation that acknowledged the passing of the family hedgehog, which commemorated the life cut tragically short.
I’d not thought much about Milo since the news of his passing first came to me. Then on Saturday as we drove home from the gym GAP told me that Milo had sent the boys a letter.
“From beyond the grave?” I asked incredulously. “Isn’t that a little spooky for kids so young?” (J’s boys are about three and six.)
“Oh, they don’t know he’s beyond the grave,” GAP responded.
“Then what do they think happened to him?” I asked back.
“J told the boys that Milo’s parents were getting up there in age and had asked their son to come home and help out around the house a little bit.”
“No. Originally Milo was just going to be gone a few weeks, but apparently his mom’s hip is giving her a lot of trouble and she needs him to move back in permanently.”
“Hedgehogs have hip problems later in life, do they?”
“Apprently. So Milo sent the boys a letter explaining that his stay had to be extended indefinitely, but that he had found someone else to keep them company while he’s away.”
“No, they got a dog. It’s a Morkipoo.” (Which I can only assume is a Maltese/Yorkie/Poodle cross.) “Not much bigger than a hedgehog, actually. The boys named him Hiccup.”
Yes. Hiccup. I couldn’t make this stuff up.
And that, my friends, is the story of how Milo McSpikerton went home to help his parents around the house, how his stay was extended due to his mother’s ailing hip, and how Hiccup the Morkipoo was sent as a replacement.
The whole affair made me laugh hard. I know that on the parenting path that stretches out in front of me there will be hamsters and lizards and critters of all stripes, fish funerals, and difficult conversations about where we go when we die and where babies come from. But amidst all of our earnest attempts not to screw up our kids with too much truth, as parents we are blessed with the liberty to insert a few lies here and there. And I have a real appreciation for J’s ability to find the opportunities to amuse himself (and the rest of us) in the process. If raising children requires anything it requires a sense of humor. We must find the funny in ourselves as much as we find it in our kids. Otherwise a dead hedgehog is just a dead hedgehog, and that’s no fun for anybody.