My parents decided we—in sixth grade, third grade and second grade—could stay home alone while they went to parent-teacher conferences.
We pulled out a salvaged wrapping paper tube. The perfect size to use as a bat. Home plate was by Dad’s chair at the table. The pitcher stood in the middle of the family room.
Then the impossible happened.
The thin cardboard tube connected perfectly with the soft, blue Nerf ball. It sailed through the dining room, arced through the family room beyond the fingertips of two fielders and then bent hard to the right through the door into the entryway. There it found the small shelf holding the tiny antique pelican. Colored glass shattered on the bricks below.
This was no ordinary trinket. Aunt Erna—Mom’s great uncle’s wife—gave it to Mom. Of all the pieces she passed down, it was the only pelican. Mom and Dad collected pelican figurines; and we broke their oldest one.
Tears streamed down our faces as we knelt and swept the fragments into the dustpan.
That’s where our parents found us. Mom assured us we hadn’t done anything wrong. We were allowed to play Nerf ball in the house. We’d done it before with no casualties. But we felt no better.
The middle child has always been the handiest of us. He pieced the biggest sections together and rotated the smaller slivers into place. He meticulously glued the pelican back together. We never did find the last piece of its beak. But the broken bird lived on in his room for years.
This post is part of the 31 Days: Family series. Read the beginning, and see a full index of posts, here.
I remember trying to reassure you and your brothers that no material thing could ever mean more to Dad and me than you children. You are, and always have been, deeply loved.
And we knew (and know) . . . but we still felt terrible for breaking something we couldn’t replace!