The Birthday Flibbertigibbet

Once upon a time, there were two small children who often found themselves tip-toeing through tiny magical doorways in the walls of doctors’ offices and waiting rooms. Those magical doorways took them to imaginary worlds full of glitter and clouds, unicorns and rainbows, and Abraham Lincoln. 

Those kids were my twin son and daughter. How they loved the yarns I spun when we were sitting and waiting for something to happen.

On the eve of their ninth birthday, they both crawled into my lap—a lap that’s barely big enough for one of them—and asked me to tell them a story like I used to.

After a moment of thought, I began: Once upon a time, there were two children whose ninth birthday was the very next day. That night, just as they were drifting off to sleep, they were visited by the Birthday Flibbertigibbet who, like a whirling dervish of a magical Tasmanian devil, encircled them in a cyclone of glitter and they found themselves…

“Remember how good Mommy’s stories used to be?” asked one twin.

“Yeah, we always went through a magic door,” answered the other.

…who found themselves—I continued, feeling they were a little old for the words that would be uttered next—going through a—pause to gauge whether my old storytelling tactics would be accepted by the large beings that were now snuggled up against me tighter than they’d snuggled in years—going through a magical doorway to the…

I looked at my babies who weren’t babies anymore. In their place, I saw a couple of big kids—kids who knew their multiplication tables, kids who had travelled wide and beheld deep chasms and melting glaciers, kids who had felt the sting of rejection and the ache for achievement and recognition. Kids who didn’t need their mommy like they used to.

But in this moment, they did.

Not wanting to disappoint, I and the Birthday Flibbertigibbet, took those two kids through that magical door where we encountered two warring factions of lollipops—the Swirlies and the Plain Colors. Now it just so happened that it was the otherworldly power of twins who were on the cusp of their ninth birthday to be able to stop this war.

“Guys,” I said apologetically. I knew I was about to be found out. “I think it’s time you knew the only reason you used to love my stories was because I packed them full of glitter and President Abe and all the stuff you liked. They really weren’t as good as you thought they were.”

“Keep going,” they pleaded.

I nodded and continued: The twins told General Swirliepop that if he didn’t stop fighting with the Plain Colors, there would be no more lollipops for the children to enjoy and that would just suck….

We had a good laugh at the pun.

Anyway, both lollipop leaders came to the realization that their fate was to be eaten by children, so they stopped fighting and all the lollipops ran away to a land where children would never find them.

Satisfied, my kids curled up against me, not wanting to go to bed (even though it was way past their bed time). We reluctantly climbed the stairs, the three of us warm in the knowledge that the time we spent together when they were little had given us something special. It had given us memories of the real and the not-so-real. And it had given us an endless supply of tiny magical doors that could take us anywhere.

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