Recently, Jay Dee Archer wrote a post on his blog about how everything can be the end of the world to a toddler. Wrong color Goldfish crackers? End of the world. YouTube show keeps buffering? End of the world. Shoes on the wrong feet (self-inflicted)? End of the goddamn world.
But there was one time that it was the end of the world and I actually understood the reaction.
Not long before Christmas last year my daughter got it into her head that she really wanted a Rocket Raccoon from Santa. She’d seen Guardians of the Galaxy and had taken a great liking to the furry little fellow, so after she asked 5 or 6 different mall Santa’s to bring her a Rocket Raccoon, my husband ordered this adorable little stuffed version of the character online. After some stress-inducing delays on the mail, it came just in time for Christmas, and the happiness on the little missy’s face when she saw him was immeasurable.
Rocket quickly became her favorite toy; she slept with him every night, had him beside her all day long regardless of what else she was playing with, and she insisted on dragging him along with her everywhere from malls to restaurants.
One day, a couple of months after Christmas, I was in the bathroom trying to straighten unruly hair, while my daughter was playing in her room. I heard a small bang, but I paid it no mind because what kind of kid doesn’t make any noise when they’re playing? Then I heard the crying. I met her in the hallway on my way to her room. She was practically sobbing and was clutching Rocket to her chest. At first I couldn’t figure out what had happened – and she was in no fit state to tell me – but then I looked in her room and saw the mess. The cup of milk she’d been drinking was knocked over, the milk all over her table and the floor and several toys. A light bulb went off in my head as I turned back to look at my distraught daughter, clutching her little stuffed Rocket Raccoon. He was soaked with milk, clean through, like she’d actually dunked him right in the carton.
I couldn’t stop her crying, and I couldn’t blame her. In the past when she’d made big messes, I’d threatened her with losing her possessions – for instance, when she refused to go to the bathroom and ended up wetting herself, I’d tell her that we had to throw her princess panties in the garbage. The threats were my way of teaching her that she had to be more careful, but this time they’d backfired. The way she was clutching Rocket and bawling her eyes out, she definitely thought that I was going to take him and throw him in the trash. END OF THE WORLD.
Even after I explained that I was going to do my best to fix Rocket, I don’t think she stopped crying the entire time I was soaking him in the sink and scrubbing him with Purex. It was definitely, no questions asked, the absolute end of all creation. It was all over. Her special gift from Santa, her favorite toy, her little buddy…ruined. Life would never be the same. She couldn’t possibly go on.
Luckily he wasn’t really ruined. With quick action I somehow managed to extricate all the milk, and after a thorough powdering with baking soda and one good wash cycle with the laundry he was even smelling good as knew. The end of the world was postponed as I handed my daughter her fresh-as-a-daisy toy and she broke out in that adorable little grin again.
But it was pretty touch and go there for a little while.