He skidded up to me, shouting, “Daddy, look what I got!”
Holding a tiny stuffed animal aloft for me to behold, he beamed with the triumphant pride kids radiate about a new possession.
“Oh, very cute! A little hedgehog.” I said, playing my parental role: identifying the prize correctly and nodding with the appropriate amount of admiration. Lots.
His eyebrows snobbishly arched as he explained in a smooth teaching tone, “It’s not pokey like a real hedgehog, though. Real ones are pokey. For defense.” And then energetically thrust it out for me to feel.
I took it and, yes, it was indeed soft and decidedly un-pokey. I turned the fluffy yarn-covered thing over in my hands and coughed out a surprise laugh. It zipped past my parental censor, I just couldn’t bite it back in time.
“What?” he asks, with instant and dangerous curiosity.
“Um… Heh! Nothing,” I clumsily dodged, still trying in vain to hide my reaction. Game over, it was completely obvious, and I could see the bonfire of interest blazing in my six-year-old’s eyes, that passionate fever to KNOW what was so funny.
“Why are you laughing, Daddy?” he said in the firm and measured tones of someone who won’t accept anything short of full disclosure.
I cracked. Exploding with laughter, I couldn’t help it, the words just machine-gunned out of my mouth.
“Hahahahahaha- It -haha- it has a giant butthole!”
This, of course, set our son off giggling and my wife to shouting, “It’s a FINGER PUPPET!” over our booming duet of hysterical laughter.
“The two of you, I swear! And YOU!” I covered my face, shrinking from the spotlight of her pointing finger. “YOU’RE an adult!” Through my epi-laugh-tic fit, I managed to croak out, “No, I’m NOT!”
I tried to compose myself to save the lad a little, and gasped, “Why the two of us? I’m the one who said it!”
“Because,” she explained, “when we were at the register buying it, he asked me LOUDLY why the baby hedgehog has a big butthole!” The lad and I were roaring all over again, each of our laughs creating an excalating chain reaction.
I could barely breathe when she rolled her eyes in semi-mock disgust, chuckling under her breath, “Ugh. You’re like two peas in a pod.”
“Or two fing…” I began… “DON’T!!!” she cut me off, her head making savage “he’s going to repeat this” warning nods towards our six-year-old.
She knew exactly what I was going to say. I’m sure you’ve guessed as well.
Bonus Cuteness: For those who were wondering, you can clearly see from this scientific infographic created by whimsical illustrator Sofie Corrigan, the anatomy of a hedgehog doesn’t, in fact, and thankfully, include a gargantuan poop shute.