Our family went on a vacation this weekend. It was a spontaneous cruise in a crowded Ford Focus. We put on our feather down life preservers and set sail on the icy roads to the big city on our way to our favorite dollar theater to watch the movie Ferdinand. The best part of seeing movies at this theater is the fact that you get to sit at long tables and order food that is then delivered during the movie. We all enjoy this, but it’s a rare treat. The kids explore all the yummy pizzas, and their mother and I explore the delicious salads, burritos, and whimsical oddities on the menu.
So, we climbed into the car, giddy with excitement, and eager to start our “vacation”.
“You can have anything you want!” I told the kids. “If this were a regular evening, eating out would feel expensive, but since I’m calling it a vacation it will feel like a bargain. So, just dream it up. Anything you guys want to eat.”
They rubbed their hands together and giggled into each other’s ears.
“Oh yes!” Lydia said, to Clara’s silent suggestion.
“Yep!” Clara agreed with a grin. “We know what we are going to get!”
“Well, I’m not sure,” their mother said. “There are so many good things. I’ll just decide when I get there.”
“How about you Gid?” I called into the back seat.
“Oh, me know what I want!” He smiled wide and gave me a thumbs up in the rearview mirror.
An hour later we were standing in line staring up at a handwritten chalkboard menu hanging from the ceiling.
“Okay,” the girls cheered. “We want a BIG pineapple pizza please!” They licked their lips and climbed onto each other’s backs.
“And I’m going to try their nachos this time,” Andrea said, sensibly.
“And I’ll get the steak tacos. Does that sound alright?” Then I bent down to Gideon. “So, little man. What have you been dreaming about this whole time?”
His eyes glistened. “A banana!”
“A… You want…” I looked up at the menu and then back at him. “So, we drove all the way here and you want a…”
“Gideon.” I knelt in front of him and looked up into his eyes. “Dude. We are on vacation. Wouldn’t you like to have some pineapple pizza with your sisters? Pretend you are on an island somewhere?”
He nodded and smiled. But I could tell, behind that smile, he was picturing himself on an island, but on this island in his mind, he was a monkey eating a banana.
For the next hour and a half, I watched the movie reflected in his eyes as he coiled and uncoiled himself in the seat next to me, laughing, and frowning at all the right times. I held his hand and helped him eat his pizza. When the lights came back up I asked him what he thought of the movie.
“It was good,” he said and then he glanced around and shrugged sadly, “But they forgot to bring my banana.”
“I know, kid. They don’t grow on this island. But I have an idea…”
We made one stop at the store on the way home and walked out with five chocolate covered bananas on sticks. Ten minutes later I glanced in the back seat and found the boy sound asleep, a half-eaten banana slowly thawing in his happy little fist. But behind his closed eyes I could almost see it. We were finally there. A sunny beach, a flock of seabirds dancing in the foamy waves, the shadow of a palm tree hanging overhead, a young boy curled up on a towel, his tail neatly tucked beneath him as he ate a large plate of delicately arranged bananas.