As far as missteps and oopsies though, it was pretty much uneventful until the end.
We were on the final stretch of our trip - almost home to our dog and our friends and our very own beds! We landed in Las Vegas for a quick layover and the boys promptly prepared to deplane. Backpacks over stuffed with random supplies? Check. Neck pillows securely attached? Check. Disguises in place? Check. Favorite new Pokemon stuffed animals stuck inside the front of their shirts with nothing but heads poking out? Check!
As you can imagine, tromping through a busy airport with two boys in Groucho glasses who think they own the place turned more than a few heads. This was also our first time flying without an umbrella stroller (i.e. “straight jacket”) for Finn so I’m sure Bill and I looked like a couple of crazy cat herders trying to rein him in.
But we did it. We made it to our gate on time with everyone accounted for! The A group was just about to line up for boarding when Bill turned to Finn and said, “Where’s Fennekin?”
Yep, you guessed it. His favorite new Pokemon stufty. Gone. I grabbed my boarding pass and took off to retrace our steps quickly before the plane to Nashville took off without me. I fast walked like a mall lady through the entire C gate taking extra care to check all around the New York Seltzer vending machine (Vanilla Cream Soda! Almost as good as we remembered…) and in the tiny bathroom stall Finn and I squeezed into together. Nothing. His new favorite toy was GONE.
This isn’t the first time Finn has lost something he loved so as I raced back to the gate, I felt sure it would be hard but he could handle it. I recalled a time when he was about two when I called our babysitter during a rare night out to check in. She said the kids were great but the dog had just eaten ALL of Finn’s new horse figurines. “Bummer,” I said, laughing. “It happens.” She was shocked. “That’s what Finn said! I was prepared for him to lose his mind - that’s what the other kids I babysit for would have done - but he just shrugged his shoulders like, ‘Eh, what can you do?’”
Sure enough when I got on the plane and broke the news about Fennekin, Finn was sad but stoic. Then, almost immediately, we jumped to the bright side.
“Just imagine all the adventures Fennekin will have!”
“If someone finds him it will totally make their day!”
“He’s even better than a lucky penny!”
“Maybe whoever finds him lives in Hawaii and he’ll get to go back there FOREVER!”
After we got home and finally got the kids to bed, I told Bill how proud I was of Finn. He had spent every second of our trip with that little stuffed friend - from the moment Bill surprised him with it on our first flight to the second it slipped out of his shirt at the airport - and yet he hadn’t even cried when he lost it.
“Do you have any idea how awesome that is?” I asked Bill. “So many kids would have had a complete melt down! Not only did Finn keep his cool, he actually saw the silver lining. I think that’s pretty mature for a four year old…”
He agreed but didn’t say much else. It wasn’t until the next morning that I found out why.
Hopped up on jet lag, Finn climbed in bed with us at the crack of dawn. While I tried to go back to sleep, he and Dada cuddled and chatted. They were talking about Fennekin and it sounded like Bill was apologizing. Apparently, while I was retracing our steps in the airport, Bill had been overreacting and laying a guilt trip on Finn. Instead of coming from a place of compassion (I’m so sorry you lost your favorite toy), he reacted with frustration (Why weren’t you more careful?!). Only after I went on and on about how mature Finn had been did he realize how much he’d messed up.
“Finn, I’m so sorry I got upset,” he said sweetly. “It’s hard to lose a friend and I should have been more compassionate about that. I messed up, bud. I’m really sorry.” Finn just nodded but I know how much it must have meant to him. I’ve been on that side of an apology with him more times than I can count. It’s a big deal when a grown up tries to right a wrong.
Later in the day, we returned home after running some errands and found Finn’s second favorite Pokemon guy laying in the gutter where he’d accidentally been dropped.
“Dude!” I said, rescuing the little stufty from underneath the van. “You could have lost another guy!” Finn snatched him out of my hand and smiled. “Yeah. But I didn’t!”
So I guess the big takeaway from losing his toy was - nothing? Oh well. Pretty sure this was one life lesson not meant for the kids.