It wasn’t something that happened overnight, but still, this was something that could have been seen coming a mile away if any time was spent with my son.
What started as a request, visit after visit to Barnes & Noble, to purchase a stuffed Ty penguin, became a bit of an obsession with the little guy. I’d always give him a choice. He could get the penguin or he could get a new book. To this book lovin’ mama’s surprise, he always chose a book. This went on for months — six to be exact.
For Christmas, the littlest Flint got a gift card for the very bookstore that his arctic friend had been waiting for him all this time. So, to B&N we went on December 26th and his faithful sidekick, Georgie the penguin, finally came home with him that day.
And the phenomenon began. Sure, he’d been through phases before…Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a brief tryst with PJ Masks, but this love affair with Georgie and penguins, well, it was something in a league of it’s very own.
I knew he was obsessed when iPad backgrounds were changed and his Papa made him his own special brand of cereal called Penguin Flakes, but I didn’t know just how serious it was until one night about 2 weeks ago when I was texting my brother and referred to my 7-year-old as Mr. Pickles (as I had done hundreds of times before going back to when he was just a baby).
Now, as many of us know, kids don’t miss even the slightest detail. And my son is no different. He saw an opportunity here and he took it.
“Mom, I’ve got something to tell you,” he said in a seriousness that seemed a little too serious so I knew something was up.
“What’s up, bud?”
“It’s just that, well, I’m not Mr. Pickles anymore, Mom.”
“You aren’t?” I asked, a bit surprised. “Who are you then?”
“I’m Penguin Dude. Please be sure to let everyone know so they call me that now instead.”
“Okay, bud,” I said with a smile.
He beamed a huge smile back, his two front teeth missing and holding Georgie close. He walked away happily to grab his iPad and play some Roblox and I was left feeling…grief.
I know that might sound odd, but he’s been Mr. Pickles since he was about 2 months old and while I knew he wouldn’t be my pickle forever, I didn’t realize it would come this soon. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s chosen a new name for himself that fits his personality and what he loves. (He wants an actual penguin tattoo, but we’ve let him know the ink isn’t happening until he’s 18. He’s convinced he’s still going to want a penguin then.)
This is just one of the first times I’m having to let go of control over my little guy’s decisions. As little as it is, it feels so big to me. I know it’s just a name, but it’s so much more than that.
So there you have it folks. Mr. Pickles has left the building and Penguin Dude has taken the stage. I can’t wait to see what’s next.