Madi was beside herself. Her cat, Gilbert, was stuck and she couldn’t get him out! Her Mamaw couldn’t get the cat out and even her Papaw, who could do anything, couldn’t get it out. So, Madi did the only thing she knew to do. She sat down and cried, hard. And she cried and she cried. (Madi is almost four.)
Her grandparents were frantic! Surely she would puke at any moment from all the tears. What would they do?! They tried to pull him out, they tried to dig him out, but nothing worked. Finally, her Papaw tried to take the whole thing apart. No luck!
Did I mention that Gilbert is a plastic cat, about an inch tall? And the place he was stuck was the bathroom drain?
Madi was terribly worried about Gilbert. He was all alone! She wanted to send some of other toys down the drain to keep him company. So sweet, but NOT a good idea! Everyone kept an eye out, just in case she tried it.
When her Mom came home from work, Madi told the horrifying story of Gilbert. New tears, the thought of sending other friends to him… Everyone assured Madi that somehow, someway Papaw would save the day. (Of course, at this point no one had a clue how he would do it.) There was talk about Gilbert passing through the pipe and into the basement, where her Papaw could miraculously reach him. Meanwhile, Madi was comforted that Gilbert would soon be back in her care.
I had heard this terrible awful story of Gilbert being stuck and what Papaw was planning. I couldn’t wait ‘til Wednesday night for Madi to tell her preschool friends in our class about her ordeal. When she gets really excited, her voice goes up higher and higher until I eventually have no clue what she’s saying. She gets that from her Mom. (I do it, too.) I pictured her sharing and the looks on the children’s faces.
On Wednesday night at the beginning of class, we were all seated around the table. Our story was the very last part of David and Goliath. I told all the kiddies that Madi had something really important to tell them. I prefaced it with, “Tonight’s story is about someone who was very brave…and Madi had to be very brave this week, too.” Then, like a news reporter or talk show host, I said, “Madi, tell them what happened to Gilbert.” I helped her along so they would know the good parts of the story, but when her voice got super, duper high, none of us understood.
Meanwhile, the other preschool teachers had started listening. Their eyes grew bigger as the tale progressed. They were at first confused and then horrified that somebody’s cat was stuck and I didn’t seem concerned at all. In fact, they couldn’t believe I was enjoying the whole thing.
I looked up to see their faces. “What?!” I mouthed. “The cat!” they whispered at once. I nodded and laughed but they did not. “Is the cat still stuck?” they asked, still very concerned. “Yes,” I said. And then I realized they hadn’t heard it all. “Gilbert is plastic and this big,” I finished, holding up my fingers. “He’s Caillou’s friend!” (Caillou is on the Sprout channel. She’s not real either, but please don’t tell my preschoolers!) They were sooooo relieved.
It’s a super cool how the story turned out a few days later. Madi’s Papaw did indeed save the day. Sure enough, Gilbert turned up! (By way of the internet and the United Postal Service.) She squealed with delight!
I wish I had been there! I bet she got more and more excited until they could barely understand what she was saying!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.