Peter fell off the bridge,
said this tiny voice next to me.
This happened around six in the morning and the harbinger of bad tidings was my daughter, Sabrina.
She lifted the part of the blanket which was covering my face and waited, anticipating where the ‘thread’ to this particular ‘incident’ would lead to.
“Where are the crocodiles?”, I asked, knowing fully well that they were last seen lounging further downstream when we were improvising another one of her Playmobil-adventures the night before.
She said, “Far’way’ Papa, but hurry! We have to save Peter!” Yes, my daughter would do all the saving. My role in this was to turn on the drama.
Sabs always woke up an hour earlier and played by herself in her room, or sometimes she would crawl onto our bed with some Playmo-people and make up some story about snow-covered mountains, – (our blankets were white and our lumpy contours underneath provided the Alps.)
As I got up to follow Sabs on this rescue mission, I heard my wife mumble under her blanket, “Feed him to the crocodiles”.
Entering Sabs’ room, I realised just how much space her Playmos took up. There was a small Wild West town, (Smallville), a form, a Red Indian village, various animals and Garbage River, (which I cut out from a large blue garbage bag), snaking its way through the landscape.
Below the makeshift bridge balancing precariously on various building blocks, placed on either side of the river, lay Peter, – his stiff arms pointing to the ceiling, with that silly Playmo-grin on his face.
I went straight for the crocodiles instead, moved one of them and started singing in a gruff voice, “Never smile at a crocodile…”
Sabs looked at grinning Peter and shouted, “Peter, gedupl! Com’on! The crocs are waking upl! Move !!” To add a little excitement, I nudged the other croc and said in a low voice, “Mornin’ Cornelius! I think I smell breakfast”. On hearing this, Sabs panicked, and put her face closer to Peter, and screamed, “Hey !! Gedup!!, The crocs are coming! GEDUPPP !!”
I began inching the crocs upstream while my frantic daughter grabbed a random pail from the barn and started dousing Peter with imaginary water. I fleetingly thought of granting my wife her wish by letting the crocs devour Peter, but somehow Sabs had revived him in record time and now he seemed to be climbing those building blocks at a s-l-o-w pace, – (the kid was learning the art of ‘drama’ from me, and boy, was she good at it!) The crocs took the cue and started speeding up. Sabs was hysterically screaming to Peter to hurry up and get his blue bottom to a safer height.
Gruff-voiced Cornelius said, “We can jump, can’t we?” “No no – Not fair!! Crocs can’t jump!!”, screamed Sabs and from there, it was just cacophony and chaos, with Sabs shrieking to Peter to “climb! climb! climb!”, while my singing crocodiles crawled happily toward her.
Peter escaped of course and as the adrenaline level in the room dropped, my wife, stood leaning at the doorway, watching us with arms folded and said to no one in particular, “Breakfast is ready”
Of course, the crocs were invited.