One of the perks of parenthood is lying to your kid.
“Dada! What’s that?” Ivor asks, straining in his seat to get a better view of the wood mill, a huge plume of white vapor billowing skyward from its chimney stack.
“That, Ivor…is a cloud factory!”
We’re in Scotland for a rare summer visit and we’ve deplaned from KLM flight 929, Amsterdam to Inverness, on May 28th 2016. It’s Ivor’s 3rd birthday and he is psyched. But my bag is stuck in Holland and as we talk to the KLM agent about lost luggage retrieval it suddenly dawns on Ivor, his birthday present is in that bag. He throws his head backwards with the sudden, jolting, seizure-like movement of a lamb in a slaughterhouse. It’s a reaction of utter mortal fear. He emits a blood-curdling scream full of pain and suffering. Philippa struggles to hold him. During these moments he’s like an umbrella in a hurricane.
“NOOOO!” Philippa yells. “Stay calm. We’ll get the bag. You’ll get your present. One day you’ll do this freak out thing and I won’t be able to hold you. You’ll be smashed on the floor and that will NOT be good.”
I’m not sure Ivor can hear these words amid his screams and sobs.
“Waaahhhh waaaaaannnntt maaaaaaaaa peh sent!” he yells through bubbling snot and tears.
The KLM agent lady doesn’t understand what he’s saying. She can’t comprehend his garbled three-year old language. She stares. I stare. Ivor’s a mess. Think fast, how do we solve this problem? Yes, the first-world quick fix: cold hard cash! “We’ll go to Sainsbury’s and see what toys they have, ok?” This is not a lie. This is a sacred promise that must be kept. An oath. Ivor’s face begins to return to normal.
“Awwww. It’ll be ok, wee man.” says the agent lady, smiling, calm and professional. She looks at her screen, taps in a code and looks up at me. “Can you fill out this form please?”