Above is a picture of my son, and his new friend, Gandhi. And while Gandhi is an unusual name to be bestowed upon a blue seahorse by a three-year old, I assure you that he came up with it all on his own. But in case you’re not inclined to believe me, here is the story…
Last week we took Eli and his cousin Emma to a local amusement park, and after a day spent spinning on the kiddie rides and splashing in the waterpark (the kids, not us. We spent it waiting, and wading, after them), we were heading towards the exit when the kids decided they wanted to play a game. A quick survey of the area revealed only one that didn’t involve guns, darts, or skill: a little fishing game where “everybody wins” – so long as they pay the fairly reasonable $2 per turn.
Eli took his pole and proceeded to “hook” three fish at once. Never a fisherman myself, I was impressed with his skill. I was also thinking that that $2 suddenly seemed VERY reasonable as I proudly watched him reel in his catch. But my wife had other thoughts and was in the process of warning him that he could have only one – and just as the guy running the game was saying, “That’s okay, he can have them all…” Eli heeded his mother’s words and shook them all off.
My son barely batted an eye as the fish dropped into the space between the counter and the wading pool they were floating but I could see the look of relief on the carnie’s face as he picked up a single fish and handed it to Eli. Each fish had a number on the bottom that coincided with the size of a prize. A one earned the winner a “small prize” while a five netted a “grand prize.” Eli flipped his fish to reveal a one. And while I was tempted to lean over the counter and see which fish the guy didn’t choose, I decided not to worry about the ones that got away (ones that were probably fives!)
Of course, Emma caught a two, so there was a moment of near tears and arguing when Eli saw her slightly larger stuffed starfish alongside his small seahorse. But Emma’s dad, Mike, quickly distracted them by asking what their names were. Both kids looked at their prizes, and were probably about to christen them with names like “Starry” and “Seahorsey” when Mike suggested “Marley” for the starfish and “Bob” for the seahorse.
Now Eli is too young to recognize the Bob Marley reference, but he always loved the name Bob. For a while, back when he was two, everything was Bob, including me. So he was quite happy to be the owner of Bob the Blue Seahorse. And for the next few hours, they were inseparable.
But after coming home and swimming in the pool, swinging on the playground, and digging in the sandbox, Bob was quickly forgotten.
A few days later, I noticed something blue in the backyard. I asked Eli what is was, and his eyes lit up in recognition. “It’s my seahorsey!” he cried, racing off to retrieve it.
I caught up in time to hear him talking to it. “I thought you was a gone,” he soothed, as he stroked its blue fur. “I thought you was a gone-dee!” (He’s been adding –dee sounds to the ends of words lately)
“Look Daddy,” he said happily, holding up his new buddy. “It’s a Gone-dee! I found a Gone-dee!”
And he’s been Gandhi ever since.