Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Conversation with my Nephew

When my nephew Huey (no, that is not his real name.  Of course.) was 2 1/2, he worked himself into a bit of a state about his upcoming trip to my farm.  Huey lives 10 hours away and couldn't remember Aunt Kim's farm, but he knew that there would be ponies there.  Ponies made Huey nervous.  They were the only animals at his zoo that weren't safely behind bars, and once, when he ventured close to one, it made a very loud noise.  So several times before his visit, Huey got on the phone with me to say, "Aunt Kim--no ponies in the house."  I assured him repeatedly, no ponies in the house.  Finally I went a little farther.  "Huey," I said, "The ponies will stay at the barn.  You do not have to go to the barn.  You do not have to ride the ponies, and you do not have to touch the ponies.  But you might like to feed them a carrot."

For some reason this turned the tide.  "Oh," he said, "OHOHOHOHOH--I will FEED the ponies!"

And he did.  At arms' length, with his eyes half-closed, brandishing the carrot like a sword.  But then he noticed something odd.  Hot Wheels was my son's pony.  Gully was my pony.  Mickey was my daughter's pony.  And Shakespeare?  Shakespeare was not my husband's pony.  ("Is Uncle Bart going to get a pony?"  "Probably not.")  Shakespeare was my daughter's OTHER pony.

Now that, to Huey, was just crazy, particularly after my daughter admitted that she didn't ride Shakespeare any more, because she was too big.  Clearly Shakespeare needed to belong to Huey.  So, from that day, he did.  There was nothing more adorable in the world than my tiny red-headed nephew blithely informing his friends, "I have a pony named Shakespeare.  He lives in Bristoltennessee."

Huey, now 3 1/2 takes the responsibilities of pony ownership seriously.  When he visits, he brushes Shakespeare.  He rides him.  Once, when he was angry with his parents, he told them he was going to come live in my barn, with his pony.  I told him in that case, he would be responsible for cleaning Shakespeare's stall.  Huey replied, "Oh--I'll wear gloves."

Yesterday Huey had a cold, so stayed at my mom's house instead of going to preschool.  When I called my mom with the excellent news that we were not going to have to put Shakespeare down that day, Huey overheard enough of the conversation that he started asking questions.  So my Mom put us all on speakerphone.

"What's wrong with Shakespeare?" 
"He had a rotten tooth.  It was making him sick."
"Why did he have a rotten tooth?"
"I don't know.  He just did."
"How did you fix it?"
"We pulled it out."
"You pulled it out?"
"The vet pulled it out.  A vet is a doctor and dentist for animals."
"Where did he pull it?"
"At his office."
Will the tooth grow back?  What made it rotten?  Why won't it grow back?  Does he need that tooth?  Can I still ride him?  Does he feel better?  How did you get to the office?  Why did you use the horse trailer?  Did Shakespeare mind the horse trailer?  What if it was raining?  Can you use the horse trailer in the rain?

"Huey," I said, "You have used up all your questions for today.  You can't ask any more questions until tomorrow."

Slight pause.  Then, "Okay.  Bye, Aunt Kim.  I love you."
"Bye, Huey.  I love you, too."