Has Anyone Seen my Hippo?
You’d think something like a hippo would be easy to keep tabs on. I know that I did.
Poor planning leads to chaos quite often when it comes to my kids and me. This time it was probably bad decision making that got me in trouble. I told my wife (in a phone conversation) that I was skipping the kids’ bath because of time constraints; five minutes later I had both of them in the tub. Did I ever mention how forgetful I can be?
After the bath I had to dress the kids (as dictated by society) and comb their hair (as dictated by wife). The combing takes the longest because I have a daughter and I am a male. Enough said.
I was finally ready to load the kids up about an hour later when we saw our neighbor outside with her infant son. It would be cruel to not let my kids say hello. Daughter loves the little boy, but she has a crush on his older brother who was in school so she wasn’t as interested in hanging around very long. Son wanted to wander into the street (he’s new at this walking thing) over and over and over.
We said our good-byes and drove to the supermarket. Son cried for half of the ride because of his incarceration in the carseat. Daughter made him laugh by making a face or screaming for no reason and everyone was happy… for now.
I looked at the clock as I parked our vehicle: 11:45 am. In other words, lunchtime. I thought to myself that this had the potential of turning out poorly. Two hungry kids surrounded by food they couldn’t eat. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Daughter asked, “Daddy, can I bring my goat and my hippo?” It was more like an order than a request.
“Yes you can, just keep an eye on them, please.”
“Okay, daddy.” She smiled as I set her on the ground.
Good timing! A woman was unloading her child from a car cart right by us. I asked if we can use it and she obliged. She did seem a little miffed that I started loading the kids into it before she emptied all of her grocery bags. My mistake.
First stop, the deli counter. The clerk gave me two slices of cheese for the kids. They not only love this, but expect it. I broke off a small piece for each of them and proceeded to drop the other slice jelly side down onto the floor (I looked around to see if anyone saw this and then contemplated feeding it to my kids anyway. I took the high road and threw it away). Luckily they were busy eating cheese and didn’t notice what I’d done. This meant I’d have to ration the remaining slice to keep them occupied for a while.
We wandered from aisle to aisle occasionally finding what we needed and the cheese ran out much sooner than I anticipated. It’s amazing how loud two small children stuffed inside a little car in front of a cart can be when they want more cheese. Just to let you know, if daughter was given the same piece of cheese at home she wouldn’t eat it with her brother’s mouth. She only wants cheese in the supermarket.
It’s amazing what I find in my pockets these days. This time it was a container of Cheerios. Not a whole cereal box (I’m not that wide in the midsection), just a little plastic thingamajig. This silenced the little screamers except for the occasional chant: “More cheerios!” Son just said, “Ooohhhh” or “aaaaagh”.
I only needed one more item when the boy started getting annoyed to the point of no consoling. The problem was that I couldn’t find it and I couldn’t find a worker if my life depended on it (or my son’s, which did, because I can only take the crying for so long). I found a worker who walked us back halfway across the store to the correct aisle and showed me that the product was sold out.
Time to head home. Son was out of control at this point so I put him in the seat right in front of me and left daughter in the car section. He calmed down and even smiled at the cashier. He’s a flirt. This is when daughter got upset.
“Where’s my hippo? Where’s my hippo?” Tears started to form.
It seemed that one of her toys escaped. I informed her that I’ll check after we cash out, but this didn’t ease her fears, it increased them.
“My hippo’s gone.”
“Did you look around there? Is the goat still there?”
She produced the goat while searching frantically as best she could inside the car (she was strapped in… safety first). The checkout seemed to take forever even though no one was in front of us. After I paid I took her out and searched the car myself. No hippo. She screamed. She’s very attached to her animals.
A worker took my name and number and promised to look around the store. We checked the information desk to see if anyone turned in a hippo. After two blank stares, both workers said no in unison. A conspiracy, maybe? Probably not.
We unloaded the groceries at the vehicle and headed back in. She was still visibly shaken by the thought of losing her hippo. By now it was 12:45pm, well into lunch eating time, but we needed to search ourselves.
We traversed our way through the same course (I think) as before. No luck. No hippo to be found.
Three exhausted (daughter was actually sleeping in car area by now) people about to head home.
As I unloaded my sleeping child the hippo fell to the ground. I don’t know where it was before, but it was definitely here now. I didn’t ask any questions, I just laughed (or cried… it’s all a blur) and drove home.