Friday, 29 October 2010

The dragon and his boy

Mama is terribly excited to announce the first-ever Mañana guest blogger: the one and only OneArmGirlIn addition to being one of Mama's longest-serving friends, OneArmGirl is a wonderful writer and an exemplar human being. Thank you OneArmGirl for taking the plunge. You will receive a complementary Molvanian cake and two free psychotherapy sessions with a seal of your choice. 

Elijah is distraught. Toothless the dragon has gone missing. Eli’s looked his bedroom, the playroom, the kitchen. He’s even sung a special dragon song to no avail. The only thing left to do is cry. Little Gen and I happen upon this unfortunate incident because we’ve come to my best friend Audra’s house to do laundry. Eli is Audra’s five-year-old son. Just when he’s accepted his sad situation, Little Gen finds Toothless, a four-inch plastic dragon with wings that flap, lying innocently next to the couch. The universe has been righted.
Dragon in distress.
This episode is only one of many in Eli’s world; where it’s not at all odd to find a dragon eating Cheerios next to you at the breakfast table. As Audra is tucking Eli into bed one night, he sits up in alarm,

“Mom, you’re stepping on my dragon’s tail!”

“Well, tell him to pull it under the bed, then.”

I love her for this. She makes the intersection of Dragon World and a world where little boys still need to go to bed delightful and seamless.

Gathered with girlfriends in my living room one night, Eli suddenly runs out of a back bedroom where he’s watching a cartoon, and plops into his mother’s lap. “Mom, I need to tell you something,” he says solemnly. Something indeed, as Eli is reluctant to pause a movie even for a potty break.

“My dragon has been waiting outside and he needs to get in.”

“You can go let him in,” Audra reassures.

“But, I’m watching a movie.”

“Well, I guess you have to choose your priorities.”

Oh, the moral dilemmas of an imaginary world; life hits hard so early. But I think it might be a good idea for every kid to get a dragon before trying a puppy.

There have been other worlds: the 'Toy Story' World where Eli told every new acquaintance for a year that his name was Buzz, and I was constantly being shot with lasers from his outstretched arm; the 'Cars' World with Lightning McQueen leaving a trail of race car pyjamas and bed sheets; and the Thomas World, wherein I felt consistently silly for not knowing the name of every tiny engine I accidentally stepped on while naively walking barefoot across the carpet.

But we’ve been in Dragon World the longest. And I’m not complaining; this is my favourite world so far. Turns out, I’m a huge fan of dragons. What is it about these giant lizards that we love? Though dangerous and sometimes fire-breathing, there seems something majestic and beautiful and lonely...a creature in a world not fit for it, where courageous knights are constantly sent on missions to seek its life and save the village.

Stopped at a red light, I try to explain to Eli, sitting behind me in his car seat, that in addition to having swords and fighting dragons, brave knights also follow a code called ‘chivalry’ that requires them to save damsels in distress and open doors for little girls. His listens quietly, processing. Then, “But knights go to fight dragons with swords and shields and...” Apparently I don’t have Audra’s touch.

And I never know if I’ll be met with a sword or a growl. Lately, Eli’s taken to coming within inches of my face, emitting a surprisingly deep-throated roar, sometimes accompanied by a shower of saliva. Have to admit, it is a little scary. Walking down the supermarket isle with Little Gen, Eli suddenly squats down. “I have to lay my eggs,” he informs her. Unprepared, she smiles awkwardly to a confused woman passing by.

Bring him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff.  
“I’m getting tired of this dragon thing,” Audra groans on the phone last night.

Recently, Eli ran into her bedroom: “There’s a dragon or a monster in my room!,” he cries, quivering
with terror; real or imagined, Audra’s not sure. But she decides it’s time to draw the line.

“Ok, Eli, there are no dragons in your room. Dragons are imaginary; they don’t exist in our world.”

This morning after blueberry pancakes and much growling and flying about the room (me rather awkwardly with only one and a half wings), Eli suddenly tells me, “Listen, there’s no such thing as dragons in this world.” I’m crestfallen.

“Really?” I ask. Is Dragon World over? Are my days as a dragon-sitter really done?

Then reappears a mischievous smile on his pixie face: “What that means is dragons DO exist.”

Ahh...I get it; they’ve just gone underground.


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