Teddy the Little Lion

Teddy woke up at 6:00 AM this morning.  Rather than have him crawl into bed with us, or attempt to trick him that it was still the middle of the night by having him lay back down, I decided to take him downstairs and start the day early.  When I walked in his room, he let out a sweet, mild-voiced, "Hi, dada."  After changing a diaper and rounding up all the necessary stuffed animal "guys" (including Dumbo Djuney, Brownie and Baby Dog) we prepared to head downstairs.  Teddy launched a couple of his stuffed animals over the banister and said, "I throw him down!"  Then he said, "Daddy, I want piggy back."  In that moment I realized Teddy couldn't care less what time it is, or how groggy and annoyed I'm feeling.  He is excited to start the day and even more excited to spend time with me.  I squatted down and had him crawl on my back and wrap his arms around my neck.  Midway down the stairs he gave a little "naaaaayyy" in my ear - reminding me that I am a horse, doing a horse's work.

Little Lion brushing his teeth in his little lion shirt

Several weeks ago, before bedtime, I told Teddy a make-believe story about a lion.  The lion went on some amazing adventure - something like riding a city bus to the library.  Teddy loved the story so much that each time Amy or I now put him down for a nap or bedtime, he cries out, "I wan a story about the wittle wion!"  I believe the lion became "little" about the same time the lion took on the persona of Teddy.

Now the stories about the Little Lion are filled with a lot of color from Teddy.  For example, each story about the Little Lion starts with Teddy saying, "He wake up!  He cry, 'Daddy! Daddy!' I'm in my bed!" After the lion wakes up in the story, I usually have him go somewhere Teddy has been before - like the zoo (ironically), the grocery store, or our family cabin in the Ozarks.  Teddy usually takes back control of the story quickly and has the Little Lion do things Teddy's way - things either Teddy did that day, or things Teddy wants to do - like "play trucks few minutes" or "watch Bob the Buildin'."

The Little Lion whom I tell stories about is extremely obedient.  He eats whatever Mommy and Daddy cook for him.  He tries interesting new cuisines and dishes all the time!  In one recent story, Little Lion and Daddy took a canoe out on the river, caught their limit of rainbow trout, and then cooked them right on the river bank over an open flame.  After the fish were cleaned and Little Lion and Daddy were getting the fire started, Daddy asked, "Are you hungry for these delicious fish we caught, Little Lion?"  Little Lion (in Teddy's voice) replied, "I wan chockwick!!!"  Which, of course,  is chocolate pudding.

At times, Little Lion and Teddy seem to merge into one person in reality.  I would imagine that a real little lion might have an untamable animal instinct that causes him to pounce when you least expect him.  Teddy is similar.  During one of Kansas City's warm January days, our whole family was outside enjoying the sunshine.  Teddy was pushing his big green dump truck all over the front yard while I caught up on some news on my phone.  Out of nowhere, Teddy came up and whacked my leg as hard as he could with his hand!  Twice!  It almost seemed to shock him - and I knew that he had no idea why he was doing it other than to get me to pay attention to his every move.  I said, "Teddy, are you being ugly to your Dad?"  He replied with a, "YES!!!" in a voice that was as close to a Little Lion growl as I imagine Teddy could get.  He turned away from me and stomped through the grass toward the side of the house.  He again let out badly timed, growling, "YES!!!"  Amy was walking back to the front of the house and she caught Teddy's eye from about 30 feet away.  Teddy (or Little Lion) growled out, "HEY MOMMY!!!  I'M BEIN' UGLY!!!" as he stomped toward her.  He growled as he approached Amy looking adorably menacing as he could...just to let her know that she better watch out because she might be the Little Lion's next victim.

The day Little Lion pounced on Daddy and Mommy
I love that Teddy makes me remember what it is to feel like a kid again.  Honestly, I'm jealous when Teddy lets the Little Lion take over and do something like chuck his fork across the kitchen because he can't get it to do what he needs it to do.  When I was shoveling snow last week I would have loved to snap my snow shovel in two pieces over my knee and throw it into the street for a car to smash into bits.  But of course, a sense of financial investment, a fear of others watching me, and a need to finish the job overrode my desire to act like a Big Lion.


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