The first night, neither Daddy nor I were impressed with his hysterics. He’d been a pill all day, and we simply assumed he was tired, and perhaps coming down with a cold. (Which turned out to be true.)
But the next day on the way home from school, he said decidedly, “I’m never watching James and the Giant Peach again!”
“Really?” I said, surprised, because he’d been giggling like crazy all the way through it. “Why not?”
“Because the rhino is scary!” he said. And come bedtime that night, he wanted me to sleep with him…because he was scared of the rhino.
I tried to use reason, which believe it or not occasionally works, but not this time. I said that rhinos weighed so much that they would break the stairs if they tried to get up them, so a rhino couldn’t possibly get to his room. But he said it would tear down the whole house and get him. I said that Daddy and I would never let anything happen to him. But he said what if it eats us first?
Oh, my darling, overimaginative child!
All the while, he was piling stuffed animals on his bed. Just about this moment, he picked up…you guessed it. A rhino! So I tried a different tack. “Alex! No rhino’s going to get to you when you’ve got a rhino to protect you!” I grabbed the squashy toy and tickled him with it. “Look at you! You’ve got Sheriff Woody and Jessie, you’ve got Superman, you’ve got a crocodile and a rhino…”
“And Ruff-Ruff,” Alex said, smiling, grabbing another animal from the floor.
“And Ruff-Ruff,” I said. “They’ll protect you!”
Alex wasn’t buying it. Giving me the look that you should never have to see until adolescence, he said, “But Mommy, the animals don’t even move!”
When I finally got him settled in for the night, trudged back downstairs and flopped on the couch beside Christian. “You know what?” I said. “Santa’s days are numbered. It’s not going to be long now, I’m afraid.”