“Single Pink Grapefruit Seeking Trampoline for Out-of-This-World Adventure,” by Julie Willis

Sep 4th, 2019 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

If you’d asked me before I had kids whether I would want kids with imagination or “normal” kids, I’d have said imaginative kids. Who wouldn’t?

I take it back. I take it all back.  I sometimes think that I would give anything for sleep-all-night kids who think inside-the-box at least some of the time.  Bring on the coloring books and the Disney princesses and television and pre-packaged anything.

What I have is a kid who only recently—at the age of eight—came to the very heartbreaking (to her) conclusion that she cannot be a dog when she grows up, so she is going to have to be satisfied with working with dogs.  When she was younger, I stopped taking her to the park because instead of playing on the swings and slides, all she would do was run around barking at strangers—or worse, lifting her leg on them.

And another kid who says things like this: “Too bad I don’t have a knife or a trampoline or something, so I could open this grapefruit.”

For about four seconds after she said that, I tried to imagine how one would open a grapefruit with a trampoline. Then I gave up and asked, “If you had a trampoline, how would you use it to open the grapefruit?”

Not surprisingly, she had an elaborate plan that involved putting the grapefruit under the trampoline with a nail in it and then jumping on the trampoline, which would pound the nail into the grapefruit, breaking it open.

Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?

Because I’m an inside-the-box thinker.  I would just poke my thumb into the peel of the grapefruit and get to work.

Oh, and her future plans? They have gotten worse.  She did want to be a firefighter because she was fascinated with fire. Every day she would ask me (as if I knew), “Mom, if there is a fire, and you touch the doorknob and it’s hot, then there is fire on the other side. What would the fire do if you open the door?”

“Just don’t open the door.”

“I know, Mom. But why? What would happen?”

“Just don’t open the door.”

For two years, I was holding my breath, hoping she’d lose interest in fire. She has; now she wants to be an astronaut and colonize Mars.

Yeah. So that whole firefighting thing suddenly seems like a really good career choice. Very safe. And comforting. I should have just told her what would happen if she opened the door. Maybe she’d still be talking about fire instead of lava tubes, liquid water, and terraforming Mars.

Daily life in our house is filled with lots of… um… imagination.  Which is a nice way of saying my kids fight constantly and say things like, “You are not a dog.” Or “You can’t open a grapefruit with a trampoline.”  And “I don’t think Mom would let you make a rocket out of that.” As if only one’s own imagination makes sense.

I think I’m going to ask my doctor if it’s a coincidence that I started getting migraines around the time my children started talking.

I guess I’m glad my kids have imagination.  I just have my own little fantasy that once in a while their imagination didn’t involve elaborate explanations to innocent bystanders who are wondering why I’m playing fetch with a child or explaining Newton’s third law to a Kindergartener.


Julie is an adjunct English professor at a junior college, which sounds like she is waiting to see if she gets to be a real professor some day, but in actuality it just means that she decided to have kids instead–and live that life where she can’t decide if she wants to have a “real job” or be a “real mom,” so she sort of does both half time.

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