When I was little, my grandma had a Halloween party for my siblings and me, plus my cousins. We played games and had snacks, and all that stuff that goes with kiddie parties. We each had a number, which we’d drawn from a bowl, that would direct us through the games, giving an order to follow for all the activities, and which coordinated with prizes. Near the end of the party, we had the final activity where we found our numbers on cards that were tied to strings what disappeared inside a paper grocery sack. I pulled mine out, excited and eager to receive my prize. And I pulled out a tin helicopter.
As a stereotypical girl, I thought I was supposed to get one of the fru fru toys like my girl cousins and sisters got. The helicopter was clearly, obviously intended for my brother. All we needed was a quick swap and all would be well.
Except he was happy with what he’d drawn from the bag. Apparently there were some gender-neutral toys in there. No matter how much I cajoled, pleaded, threatened, or bullied, he wouldn’t switch prizes with me. And my mother didn’t make him. Unbelievable. I was stuck with the helicopter. And I was miserable. And I made sure everyone else was miserable with me. Poor Grandma. All she wanted was to give a good time and provide a wonderful party for us. And I ruined it all.
In the hour-long car ride home from Denver back to Greeley, I moped. For a while anyway. Most little kids don’t have the stamina or discipline to keep up a good sulk too terribly long. At one point on the trip along the interstate, my parents saw an amazing sight and pointed it out to us kids—the clouds had formed a dark shadow which looked exactly like a witch on a broom, flying past the full moon. It was an eerie yet wonderful sight to see, driving near midnight on a Halloween night. That took my mind off the sad ending to Grandma’s party.
Forgetting that I was so tormented and put-upon, I started looking at my spurned helicopter. It had a button on the side. When you pushed it in, it turned a metal cog that moved a gear that turned the blades on top. The faster you repeated pushing it, the faster the blades went around. Wow! It was actually a really cool toy. (It made that iconic clicking sound that anyone whoever has had a tin cog-driven toy would recognize.) I began to bond with it in a connection that wouldn’t be easily broken. And no way would I ever let anyone else touch my helicopter. Especially not my brother. Wasn't he sorry now for not trading! In the coming days, I flew that thing everywhere. I think I flew it all the way to Easter. It was exciting and fun. And unique. No one else had such a cool toy. I loved it. I didn’t share. I played that toy to pieces.
If only I’d seen the superb value of it at Grandma’s while she was still watching me. I’m sorry Grandma. It was really cool. I loved it. It was a great party, and a great prize!
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