Today my son discovered the thrill that is rearranging the furniture in his room. It was incredible. He was so excited about moving everything around that he was actually cleaning his room. It was so great that I escaped to the back porch for a while to continue to strip paint from my latest house project.
In the middle of scraping another layer of toxic sludge I hear a knock at the back door. I was going turn around but my son opened the door and started talking at me so I continued what I was doing.
“Hey mom, I found this really old board game. Do you know anything about it?”
“What’s the name of it?” I said, still not turning around.
“The…Donkey…and the…Carrot? What should I do with it?”
The Donkey and the Carrot? I don’t remember any game called the Donkey and the Carrot. I turn from my paint stripping to see what he’s talking about.
“This stinks like brimstone. Where do you want me to put it?”
I have no idea where it came from. I’ve never seen that game before. I asked him where he got it.
“I don’t know. It was just in my room.”
Whaa? That ain’t right. Is it? I decided that it was probably something from my husband’s childhood. He’s got a lot of …stuff. You never know with him. I told my kid to put it on the table and I’d ask his dad about it when he got back from the hardware store.
“Dear, have you ever heard of a game called the Donkey and the Carrot?”
“The what now?”
I showed him. He stared blankly at it. Neither of us had ever seen the game before today. My husband held out his hand, a half-hearted attempt to take the box and take over the situation.
I did not hand it over.
“NO,” I said. “You CANNOT OPEN THIS. And for God’s sake don’t play it. Your son just ‘found this’ in his room. He has no idea where it came from. I have no idea where it came from. If you don’t know where it came from then the only other person that could know is his sister. And we both know that she’d never give him anything voluntarily. Clearly this is a plant by an evil demon trying to steal our children away. I’VE SEEN THE EXORCIST. I KNOW HOW THESE THINGS WORK.”
You mean “The Donkey and the HUMAN SACRIFICE”?
“Wha!” He said, eyes widening in fear. “That’s an excellent point. I’m not touching that thing.”
Then we both agreed that the game was entirely evil and that we should get rid of it as soon as possible.
While I’m away, on vacation, I thought it might be nice to revisit some old friends. Or rather, old enemies. This post is Part Five of the Tooth Fairy Chronicles, originally published on Snickerpants.com.
If you’ve been following this Epic Saga of goblinvs.six-year-old then you already know that Catfish (the six year old) has been busy these last few weeks. After a week’s worth of riddling, he was ready to see how all this resolved itself.
Frankly, so was I.
In order to put this adventure to bed, I had to make the end both complete and satisfying or we were going to have problems. Catfish was still on a quest to capture Finkmeister so that he could prove his claim at school. That was becoming an increasingly frustrating endeavor for him because he didn’t know how to win.
I thought about it this for several days and identified five elements that must be addressed in order for Catfish to be victorious (and stop trying to catch Finkmeister).
1. It needed to be believable. Finkmeister would have real treasure, not a bunch of Legos and Hot Wheels. Though such a stash would be awesome, it would also a dead give-away that this was all a hoax. Finkmeister likes to steal cold, hard cash from kids, not their toys.
2. It needed to include proof that this was happening. Something Catfish could take to school and show off to everyone. He needed validation from his peers because Mom and Dad were sadly inadequate.
3. It had to be difficult. Look, just because I’m his mom doesn’t mean that I’m going to let him slack-off in the end game. This is where the difficult bits come in. If it is too easy to figure out, then why go through all the bother? Stumbled-upon treasure isn’t as rewarding as hard-won treasure.
4. It had to be exciting and sinister and vaguely threatening. This goes without saying, right? The thrill of the hunt, chase, defense …whatever. It needed to feel real.
5. It needed to have a definitive answer. Without an answer we risk expectations of Finkmeister attacks later, after he loses the other seventeen thousand teeth he’s got in his mouth.
How the heck could I do all that?!? I had no idea so I did the next best thing: I winged it.
The day following the last, incoherent note from Finkmeister, he found this in the mailbox:
Just the right amount of sinister-yet-vague threat
Now that it was certain he won the duel, he could breath easy. And he did. He visibly relaxed when he knew what to expect. A treasure hunt, with a map and everything!
I was terrified of drawing anything like a map, had no idea where to put it and couldn’t figure out how to make difficult riddles, so I began with building the treasure.
A short trip to the Goodwill and I had loads of loot.
Looks pretty treasure-hoardy to me.
But what sort of treasure hoard would this be without money? I’d be damned if I was gonna give that kid a ton of real, actual, this-stuff-will-buy-me-Legos Money even though I could have scrounged at least ten dollars in change from various nooks and crannies in this house.
It’s just that, including US dollars seemed so… demeaning to the whole purpose of this adventure. As soon as he saw real money, the dollar signs in his eyes would brainwash him into thinking we were going to the damned toy store.
No. We were definitely not doing that. Toys weren’t the reward here. Getting to figure out the mystery was the reward. Money would just be confusing. Besides, Finkmeister stole money from kids everywhere, not just the United States.
Clearly, this treasure hoard called for foreign currency!
I put a call out an FB to my peeps – for any and all foreign coins they were willing to donate. It was surprising to see such an outpouring of good will. Everybody had a few coins from foreign parts that they wanted to include in the Finkmeister hoard.
I had already started making plans to collect said monies when my dear, sweet husband actually took notice of my post.
Please note the date and time of Brian’s first response.
Then I went to the store and bought a handful of chocolate coins and tossed them in. Voila! the hoard was complete!
This looks promising…
Now for the hiding and the map making.
I scouted out places around the yard where the treasure hoard could hide, without being too obvious. Once a suitable hidey-hole was established, I had to write the riddles, make the map and bury the treasure. All of which took the better part of a day. Plus, there was a lot of sand involved. I don’t like sand. There was a lot of swearing during that part.
In order to fulfill requirement 2 (proof that this was happening) I planned the whole shebang to take place on the upcoming day off from school. Catfish had already asked me three times if I would please please please make those doughnut things with all the powdered sugar for him again. I, being the sucker that I am, agreed.
Using the old “I’m going to make some fresh beignets, would you guys like to come over for a play date?” I was able to lure Catfish’s friend and his mom over that morning.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult.
Map ready, treasure buried, beignets fried and liberally sprinkled, all we had to do was wait for the right time. After an hour we heard a few references to Finkmeister in their conversation. Then a few expectant sighs about a map. I asked if he’d checked for it lately…
OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT IS THAT THERE ON THE FRONT MAT?!?
The hunt is up! The hunt is up! And it is well nigh day!
To say this part was awesome would be an understatement. There were now TWO little boys standing in the front entryway, stunned speechless for the excitement of it. I think the best part was watching Catfish’s friend’s eyes go from “Yeah, I’ve heard you talk about Finkmeister” to “HOLY CRAP YOU WEREN’T KIDDING!!”
Here is the ‘map’:
Apparently, Finkmeister is just as bad at drawing maps as I am. Go figure.
It was priceless. Us moms had to move quickly because six year old boys in search of illicit treasure hoards are not to be trifled with. If we wanted to get any pictures at all, we had to haul ass. They were already on to the first clue:
“That’s easy! Let’s go talk to Heather!” “Okay! Who’s Heather?”
I don’t know who suggested Heather might be a plant. But soon enough, they were pawing through the shrubbery.
“I don’t want to put my hand in there. You put YOUR hand in there.” “I don’t want to put MY hand in there…MOOOOM!”
And thus, a small plastic shovel was found. The second clue was much like the first. See if you can guess where we looked next:
Did you say SAGE? Because, you are so smart!
And they found a plastic gardening fork.
The third clue was a hint to the location of the treasure:
Wow, he seems a little upset there.
And before we get too far, the fourth clue wasn’t a clue at all. It was Finkmeister delivering a slightly unsettling threat:
Told you! He’s kinda being a jerk.
But that part doesn’t matter, what matters is TREASURE!
And, of course…
“HOLY COW DUDE, THESE COINS ARE CHOCOLATE!!!!”
I believe the sentiment they are trying to convey here is “HELLZ YEAH!”
For those of you who want to paw through Finkmeister’s treasure too: