Small Stories for a Big World: March 2016

Sparkle Girl discovered that, once she started riding in the front seat of the car, the tellers at the drive-up window at the bank stopped offering her a lollipop.

It had been a long time since Sparkle Girl had gotten a lollipop from the bank. These days, she may be in the front seat as the driver. Now that she’s a high school junior, colleges all over the country are sending her mail inviting her to discover the wonderful educational opportunities they offer. The U.S. Marine Corps sent her a recruiting flyer.

The other day, Garnet and Sparkle Girl were heading to the bank with Garnet at the wheel. Sparkle Girl got to thinking about how nice it would be to get a lollipop. Perhaps if she sat in the back, put her hair in pigtails and hunkered down, the teller would put a lollipop in the window tray when she slid it out with the deposit receipt.

Sparkle Girl put her hair in pigtails, got in the back and hunkered down. Worked like a charm.

“It was great,” Sparkle Girl said.

When I asked what flavor the lollipop was, she said she didn’t even notice. “I was just so excited to get one.”

In recent months, I have found myself thinking not about tellers no longer dispensing lollipops in particular, but more generally about how, one by one, activities I once enjoyed with Doobins and Sparkle Girl fall by the wayside and how it’s only in retrospect I recognize that.

For a long time, I read—or made up—a story for Doobins and Sparkle Girl every night. Then one day, I’m driving down the road, thinking about how I can’t remember the last time I read them a good-night story. There had to be a final night, but I have no idea when it was or what story it might have been.

The list of shared activities that have disappeared is a long one. No more watching The Three Stooges or playing with Legos with Doobins. When Sparkle Girl was in elementary school, I made a paper Cute-O-Meter. It had an arrow. When she would come in wearing her outfit for the day, I would move the arrow around to show where she ranked. She regularly broke the Cute-O-Meter because she was too cute for it to measure.  

Every now and then, I try to resurrect some activity that I enjoyed with Doobins and Sparkle Girl when they were younger. Sometimes, it works for the day. Other times, it doesn’t.

There was a time when Doobins loved his black T-shirt with Curly’s face on it. These days, the Curly shirt resides in the dresser drawer where we keep the kids’ clothes that mean too much for us to part with. Whenever I ask him whether he would like to watch The Three Stooges with me, he looks down at me—he’s now noticeably taller than I am—and says he’s done with them.

Perhaps one day, just as Sparkle Girl decided to recapture the pleasures of her days as the recipient of bank-teller lollipops, Doobins will decide it’s time to revisit the less-than-subtle charms of The Three Stooges.

At the moment, that day is not in sight.

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