Toby tried to be a man about it, but he's 6. How much of a man can you be? All I know is he was running around like a madman at the playground, probably forcing everyone around him to participate in a life-size version of Sonic the Hedgehog, and I was parenting from the covered picnic area, which mainly includes chatting with my mommy pals and occasionally making wild dashes into the parking lot to retrieve Fugitive Tristan. My strategy is to run faster than him and grab him by one arm while he dangles and wails. Then I drag him back to the approved location. You have probably seen this maneuver in Wal-Marts around the country.
But at some point during this talk-panic-dash-yank-console routine, Toby came to me with a trembling lower lip, holding back tears using his considerable masculinity. The story that unfolded was harrowing. Evidently, a vicious gang of bloodthirsty 7 and 8 year old girls had deliberately and violently launched a grasshopper at him. You can imagine my horror, which I displayed by laughing, because I was so horrified, and then I cleaned up my act and tried to be nurturing and stuff. One of the perpetrators belonged to my pal Brooke, and after she did some interrogation, the report was modified to say that the grasshopper had actually gone rogue and jumped out of their sweet and unsuspecting hands. Toby seemed satisfied with this story and returned to the play area, shaken but not broken.
About 10 minutes later, half of my children were crying about various things, which is always my cue to throw people in the stroller and run for the van before ALL of the children are crying, and so we moved that direction. In the transition Brynn made a new friend, because any time I am moving rapidly toward a destination, my kids find some sort of lengthy diversion. Somehow, Brynn was given a grasshopper of her very own. In one of my peripheral kid-counting sweeps, I noticed she had something cupped in her hands, which was her new pet "Grassy" that she was going to bring to our house and take care of and love him forever. I did some fairly complicated anthropomorphics, explaining that Grassy's family and friends were here, and we should put him back in the grass here, so he could have Thanksgiving with his family and see his kids, because he loves it here, at this park.
It was a magical moment, and she lovingly released him into the grass, telling him "Go find your family, boy!" Grassy chose to hop on the pavement instead, and Toby, strolling late onto the scene, immediately stomped on him and squished him into the concrete.
It's complicated, family. I just hope, in time, that we can all heal from this tragedy and forgive each other.