Gabie was eating lunch across the table from me. Well, more accurately, he was sitting at the table but jabbering so much there was little likelihood of any food actually making it into his mouth. I confess I wasn’t listening too carefully because I was grading papers, eating lunch, and checking my email all at once. I heard a few words here and there: “wildlife….endangered…lots of water.”
“Uh-huh,” I mumbled, nodding my head at random intervals to let him know I was paying attention, which I really wasn’t.
I should have been.
Gabie hopped down from his full bowl of Ramen Noodles and headed out the back door.
“Hey, where are you going?” I asked.
“I’ve got to get started on the ponds.”
“You know the ponds we’re going to have in the Gabie Aquarium. We’ll have to make them really deep so the whales will fit.”
“The blue whales that we’re going to rescue.”
“Uh, I’m not so sure about that.”
“Oh, that’s okay ‘cause I’m sure. We need to make room for the whales and the dolphins. And probably a few penguins too. It will have a cold part and a warm part over on the other side. And there will be a layer of plastic to separate them. The warm side will be where the blue whales are. But they’re HUGE, so we’d better get lots of water. And we need some salt too because they only like salt water. I think we’ll need another pond just for all the fish to feed them. We’ll dig that one on the side of the house where there’s more room. Whales are endangered you know. But they’re really nice and they make great pets. I think I’ll need a hammer and shovel and piece of wood and signs that say “opens at 6 and closes at 9.” All the workers will be kids. But we’ll have to close it when I’m in pre-school because I’m the boss and if I’m not there the workers won’t know what to do. You can be a worker too Mom. I’ll let you catch the fish. I’ll make you a nametag that you can wear with your name on it and it will have a picture of a dolphin on it and some waves right next to the part that says The Gabie Aquarium. On Wednesdays, you can even wear a scuba suit and you can ride on the whales and dolphins. So, would you like to get to work?”
“Let me just get this straight. I get to be the head fish-catcher?”
“And I get to ride the dolphins?”
“Yeah. But only on Wednesdays.”
“Will you promise never to make me grade any more papers?”
“Alrighty then. Sign me up.”