The head of the brontosaurus snaps cleanly off; the brontosaurus becomes blind to everything but the whims of a child small enough to snap the toy in two without thinking about aftermath.
The head in one hand, the body in one hand, and no other hands with which to wipe at eyes red and angry and sad and something that my son, Avery, has no words for (not regret; the child neither understands not wants to understand a consequence, for words, recriminations, have no effect on a child who is able to snap a toy in two).
Use magic and make better, the boy says. And I take the two pieces from him. A mostly dried tube of glue at the back of a junk drawer (show me a kitchen without a junk drawer) might help, though I expect the toy to be broken again before the glue dries.
But I want these words from my son who believes that I can fix the broken toy because I have made magic before: band-aids and pudding cups and the fruit snacks that Avery asks for but doesn’t get when his mother, my wife, who will soon be my ex-wife, is around.
Meeting needs is as magic as life gets for Avery. Under-the-bed monsters don’t need slaying because Avery does not sleep in his bed. Balloons released into the sky, tethered to pieces of string and twine and ribbon that are no longer tethered to the boy, are lessons in holding tight to what you love most, these things that are so breakable.
What breaks? Hearts break. And bodies break. Bones snap in two, three, four, more places, and doctors do not offer spells and potions but plaster and promises. Use a crutch. Don’t put weight on it. Don’t try this again at home. And we listen. We do not call this healing magic because we long ago learned that there is no such thing as magic.
But there is magic. Or make-believe. Shapeless endings given semblance of shape.
Avery does not need to know that not all broken things can be mended.
Avery, and I are dinosaurs. Sometimes he’s triceratops, and sometimes he’s tyrannosaurus rex, and sometimes he’s an undiscovered dinosaur, but mostly he’s my best friend who just happens to be my son and who doesn’t understand why his sister, Aurora, can’t play dinosaur.
Soon, I tell Avery. "Soon Aurora can play, and we will be terrible lizards."
"No, daddy" Avery says. "Aurora isn’t a lizard. She’s a baby."
"What does that make you?" I ask him.
"I’m your big boy. And you’re daddy. And you make magic."
And I try not to let him see me cry because I think he has seen enough crying, but I look at him and I look at the life I share with my children, and the only thing I can do is cry because everything seems so beautiful.
Thank you, Tuesday, for these broken things.
William Henderson is a full-time father to his children, Avery and Aurora, and is working on a memoir. He can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter @Avesdad, and through his blog,HendersonHouseofCards.wordpress.com.