Going to sleep was never easy. Not even at night, when he was tired. And to take a nap now, in the middle of such an exciting day did just not seem possible.
The little wolf puppy squirmed and fidgeted in his crib, totally unable to find a good sleeping position. More than anything, he wanted Mommy to come and pick him up. To bring him back to the playground again.
It had been so different today. The swings and the sandbox and the slide were still there, and so was his favourite, the pirate fortress. But there was so much more! He didn't really have any words for it. This morning there had been colourful stands all around and behind and beyond the playground, twinkling lights and exciting rides, and wonderful smells were coming from everywhere.
The puppy had never heard the word 'fair', so he had no idea what it was all called. It was fun, though, great fun. Timmy had been there, too; his little grey kangaroo friend, with his mom and dad. The two of them had played, as always, and they had also marvelled at all the new things. Daddy had let them go on a merry-go-round, and they had squealed happily all through the ride, waving to everybody from their colourful horses. Then they had cried a little bit when the fun was over.
"Nap time, Dave!"
Mommy's words had been of the worst kind! The puppy had tried to hide, but against the all the bright colours his jet black fur had been as visible as a candle at night. So they had gone home, after many promises to return once he had slept, and after saying an almost-tears bye-bye to Timmy.
As they left the fairgrounds a nice man had given him a round, pink balloon, which Daddy tied to his wrist. It had been great fun to pull at the string and watch the balloon dance and jump up there in the air. Squeals and giggles followed them all the way home.
And now, after drinking a bottle of milk and having his nappy changed, Dave lay in his crib and tried to sleep. But it wasn't easy. Still, like the good puppy that he usually tried to be, he fought back the urge to cause a ruckus. The promise to return to all the fun was not one to waste on being stubborn.
He watched his balloon as it floated halfway to the ceiling. Daddy had taken it off his wrist and tied it to the crib instead, and now it rocked slightly on the breeze from the window. Feeling at peace, the puppy yawned and rubbed his eyes. Slowly but surely, his lids grew heavy, and soon he closed them.
That was when the idea struck him, and he was suddenly wide awake again. A sound escaped him that was half a gurgle, half a giggle, and he bounced with excitement where he lay, waving his little paws towards the pink balloon. How much fun it would be! How great, if only he could...
With an effort, he first sat, the stood up. He could walk, even without anything to hold on to, but only a few steps at a time before he thudded down on his well-padded behind. And here, with the railings of the crib for support, it was easy to reach the place where the balloon's string was tied.
The little wolf had worried that he wouldn't be able to untie it, but that turned out to be no big deal. Neither was tying it back to his wrist. Now came the big test. He had seen huge balloons before, on TV, that flew and carried people with them. How neat it would be, he always thought, to fly like that!
His balloon very wasn't big, but neither was he. So maybe it would work. He closed his eyes and clenched his tiny fists; wishing, wishing, wishing...
And it happened!
He felt his feet leave the soft blankets of the crib. When he opened his eyes he saw that all that held him down was his hand clutching at the railing. He let go, and with a whoosh of rushing air and a boyish squeal of delight, he soared upwards. The balloon bounced against the ceiling once, twice, then it drifted out the window.
Up and up he went, gasping and giggling as he could see his house, then his neighbourhood, then the playground and all the new things that had been put up there. He tugged at the string, and the balloon obediently went lower. People pointed up at him and stared, no doubt in awe of this wondrous thing; a flying boy! Someone told him to come down, but he just giggled at that. What, now? When he had so much fun?
Then there were others, other kids. All flying like he did, with their balloons tied to their wrists. The sight made him so happy. What fun they could have! He saw his friend Timmy, tied to a yellow balloon and waving frantically with his free hand. Dave waved back, both beaming at each other, then he urged his own balloon to go up, higher and higher. Up into the clouds.
They were wet and hazy, not as fluffy and cottony as they looked from below, but he still loved them. The other kids couldn't go as high as he, so he was alone now. Floating, bobbing up and down with the air currents, sky above and clouds below, and with the sun keeping him warm.
Still higher he went, passing airplanes, diving at one point to fly with a flock of birds. How surprised they looked to see him! They played for a little while.
He would pretend that the clouds were dangerous monsters, and as he pointed, the birds swooped in mock-attacks. They seemed to have fun, too. Dave wished that he could have talked to them, but he wasn't very good at talking yet. He knew a lot of words when he heard them, but hadn't yet learned to make the right sounds, himself.
Then the clouds parted, and the birds flew off. The puppy made an 'ooh' face as what must surely be the whole world spread out below him. There was the town, and the countryside with fields filled with crops or cows or barns and farmhouses. There were roads where cars zoomed by, and a river where boats sailed. He even saw a forest, where his birds were darting in and out among the trees. And between all that and him, lots and lots of colourful balloons, each carrying a toddler.
He spotted Timmy's yellow balloon a little higher than the others', and tugged at his own to sink towards his kangaroo friend. The two boys squealed happily at one another, then used their free arms for a hug. But Dave could not stay. His balloon wanted higher, and he had no choice but to follow.
This time he went much, much higher than the clouds, so high even the sun was below him. It turned dark, and he could see stars. He knew he was in space; he liked space. It was a neat thing, with stars and comets and planets and rockets and...
He almost wet himself as a meteor went by, nearly colliding with his balloon. More of the glowing little balls came hurtling through space right next to him, and he grabbed one and was whisked away. The speed made him scream with laughter as he went past the moon, then planet after planet. It seemed like the meteor was playing with him, because now it turned around and headed back the same way, with several of its friends tagging along.
They chased a spaceship, and Dave waved at its captain as he passed the driver's window. Then they zoomed across the skies of another world, with all kinds of strange creatures below. Even monsters, though they weren't so scary from this high up. He tugged at his balloon, wanting to stay here longer, but they were already heading back to Earth.
Past the sun once more, and then they flew next to an airplane for a little while. When Dave recognised his home town, he tugged at the balloon's string again, and said bye-bye to the meteor. Slowly, he sank down towards the ground, towards home. He yawned. Now he was really ready for his nap.
As a last bit of fun, he circled his house, peering in through the windows. Daddy was in the living room, sitting in his favourite chair and reading a book. Dani was in her room, napping on her bed, but he couldn't find Mommy at first. This made him worried, until he found her upstairs, having a shower in the bathroom. She looked up at him through the window and waved, and he giggled happily as he waved back.
Feeling really tired now, he flew in through his bedroom window, the balloon bouncing against the ceiling until it reached the crib. Dave thudded down on his well-padded rump, untied the balloon from his wrist and fastened it on the railing. Then he crawled in beneath his blanket and fell asleep.
It wasn't long before Mommy shook him awake. He yawned and rubbed his eyes, then sat up and smiled at her. She picked him up and kissed him. Purring happily, he nuzzled her cheek, then his adventure burst out of him as he stumbled over the words he wanted to say. Mommy just stroked his cheek.
"Out flying, huh? That must have been fun." He nodded, grinning. "I hope you saw me when I waved at you."
Dave's eyes shot open. After he woke up he hadn't been sure whether it had been a dream or not, but Mommy had seen him! Then it must have been real! He tried to tell her more, but it only came out as bubbling laughter. She let him keep it up while they walked back downstairs, then silenced him with another kiss.
"So, ready to go back to the playground, Davey-little?" He nodded. "I bet Timmy's already there waiting for you."
They met up with Daddy and Dani in the hall, and all four of them set off towards the fair, ready for more fun. Dave couldn't wait to tell Timmy all about his adventure, or at least as much as he was able to find words for. He knew his friend would make big eyes, as he always did when something fascinated him, and that he would be envious of the marvellous pink balloon that was now once more tied around his wrist.
It wasn't long before he could see the lights again, hear the sounds and smell all the yummy food and candy. Then he saw a yellow balloon bobbing up and down a bit away, and started squirming to be let down. He only tripped once as he hurried up to his grinning roo friend.
The tale of flying was already forgotten, for now. All he wanted to do was play with his best friend, and have so much fun.
As some of you might already know, Dave the wolf pup and Timmy the kangaroo boy are two recurring characters of mine. Usually, they're up to adventures or mischief together, but this time it's Dave (as a toddler) who goes off on his own. Or should I say 'up on his own'...
More balloon fun with both Dave and Timmy can be found here: