Thank goodness it’s almost bedtime.
Spurred out of bed before dawn after my five-year-old kept me up late, I was beat by Tuesday night. I invoked a prayer of gratitude that Philip seemed on track for a decent bedtime. Per his after-bath ritual, he had read a Curious George book, kissed Peter goodnight, and went to the kitchen.
Rather than grabbing his nightcap of milk out of the fridge, Philip took a container of leftover popcorn out of the pantry. He hadn’t eaten supper with us, so I assumed he was hungry. Instead, he abandoned the bowl and commandeered the lid. I was pleased that Philip had forfeited the snack. Taking it for myself I reasoned, Wouldn’t want this to go stale, now would I?
My gluttony would soon be punished.
While I munched, Philip constructed. Using the orange lid as a base, he trimmed and decorated a piece of paper and formed it into a cylinder. He attached the paper crown onto the plastic brim with two pieces of tape. Then he rooted in a pile of toys until he found an object from a sculpture kit. He placed the wooden shape on the brim where it could roll around the crown. Philip had assembled a “Fully Automatic Monkey Fun Hat” a la Curious George.
Up to this point, Philip had only interrupted my snacking to request tape and scissors. With the chapeau complete, I assumed Philip would continue to entertain himself until bed time. Yet, just like Curious George, Philip did not want to keep this fantastic headgear for himself. No, Philip made me wear the hat. I had to wear it sitting at the desk. I had to model it standing up. He posed me in the kitchen. He adjusted my placement in the living room. He manipulated me into position in my office. He corrected my stance in his bedroom.
At first, since there wasn’t a hole for my head, I balanced the lid-hat on my noggin with both hands. When my fingers tingled from impaired circulation, I held it with one hand and then the other. Every time I made the switch, I tipped the lid-hat and jostled the orbiting object. Philip whimpered until he moved it back into its proper place.
Two hours later, the two pieces of tape were coming unstuck. I was coming unstuck, too, and leaned just like the crown. Upon seeing his lid-hat askew, Philip vocalized loudly. I straightened up and tried to hold it flat. He whined at a higher pitch as the black object shifted. I feared a complete meltdown was imminent, one that would further delay sleep for us both.
To calm himself, Philip rocked. As luck would have it, Philip rocked right into a cracked plastic bucket on his bedroom floor. He picked it up to dangle from his finger. Then he was inspired to hook the handle onto a plastic hanger for double the dangling delight.
With Philip distracted, I escaped to the kitchen with the lid-hat. Praying I wouldn’t upset Philip by altering his creation, I reinforced the cylinder with additional tape. I also implored please, please, please let him go to sleep. To prove my worthiness and atone for my earlier sin, I gave the rest of the popcorn to the dog.
Repairs complete, I tiptoed back to Philip’s room. Philip was no longer imitating Curious George but laying in bed watching him. I stashed the lid-hat in the office, turned off his light, and uttered a benediction:
Please don’t let that monkey give Philip any more ideas.
I submitted a draft of this story for critique to the yeah write summer series bronze lounge. You can read the original here. Thanks to everyone who suggested revisions. I hope you enjoy this new, improved version.