I can still hear the faint murmurs of my son’s 40-minute meltdown when his pet ladybug, “Lady,” flew away. We kidnapped this 4 year old, or 4 day old bug (whatever the spot things mean), at the top of Mount Aspen. Jake loved her, cared for her, nurtured her, taught her to ride a bike, and started a 529 plan in her name. About a quarter of the way down the mountain, Lady flew to the floor and made a mad dash for freedom.
Jake jumped out of his seat and flew towards the door. This caused the gondola to start swinging. According to the warning sign that pictured a man falling backward out of the gondola to his unexpected demise, wild swinging is strictly forbidden. “Jake, you can’t jump around. Do you see what happened to the unfortunate man on the sign?”
Jake continued searching, solely focused on the whereabouts of Lady. “Hey, do you guys hear her? I can hear her. Do you hear her?” he said with desperation, like someone who could put a straight jacket to good use.
Though we tried, we could not decipher the cries of his lost ladybug through the cranking sound of our transport. “There she is!!!” Jake screamed with the delight of a boy finding his long lost puppy (or recently lost ladybug). Regardless, it was with total elation that he offered his stick, which she eagerly climbed onto. A few more minutes of bonding, and she playfully climbed up his shirt. “She’s sooo happy,” Jake cooed.
His joy quickly turned to horror as Lady made yet another stab at freedom. I caught her, only to have my daughter Ryan beg for a turn. I put her on Ryan’s hand as Jake frantically tried to woo her back to his stick. She crawled up Ryan’s arm, pulled out what appeared to be a miniscule pair of binoculars, and scoped out the opening in the window. She looked back at Jake, with a tear in her eye, and with one final heroic effort, vanished into the thin mountain air.
A guttural wail came from Jake’s mouth… “I TOLD YOU NOT TO LET RYAN HOLD HER!!! I TOLD YOU! She loved the stick! She hated that spot on Ryan’s arm, and now look what you did! Sheeeeee’s gooonnne! I want Lady back, I WANT LADY! She loved her stick, and she loved me! She wanted to live with me on her stick!”
Mark and I looked at each other, him losing it, and me wiping away a smile as not to diminish Jake’s loss. Calmly, I looked at Jake. “Honey, she’s a ladybug. I think she wanted to go free. That’s why she found the open window and flew out of it.”
“NOOOOOOO, she loved her stick!” Jake cried, tears uncontrollably streaming down his face. “I want my ladybug, I want my ladybug! I want her!”
Now both Mark and I are openly laughing. Well actually, I am laughing on the inside, which is causing me to cry. “Jake, in the short time I was lucky enough to know Lady, I knew her to be a free spirit. Yes, she liked you, and your stick, but she’s not the type of bug to waste what might be half her life on a single stick. She wanted to explore and see as many sticks as possible.”
“NO, NO!!! She hated Ryan’s arm and it made her leave! I told you not to put her there!” Jake continued, as I officially lost it. While holding up the stick like a lighter, I started singing “Lady.” A song we later recalled was ironically sung by STYX. It went something like this: “Lady, LAY-EE-DAY why’d you have to fly out the wi-i-i-in-dow?”
“Mommy STOP it! It’s not funny! I MISS LADY!” Jake wept, reverting to a grief-stricken state. Mark and I looked at each other in awe of this display of inconsolable, illogical, Oscar worthy, unceasing hysterics. “Jake…honey…baby, she lives on this mountain. She’ll find us at the bottom, I promise.”
“No-She-Won’t!” Jake screamed, stamping his foot on each syllable. “I promise she will,” I said, resolving to find another ladybug, or spend the rest of our trip trying.
He then paused, and answered with the irrefutable rationale of a six year old: “She won’t! She doesn’t even know which hotel we’re staying at!”
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