“What are those?” she said, crinkling her nose as she usually would to a vegetable she discovered on her plate that she didn’t like.
“They were called Barrel of Monkeys. This was the only toy my great grandmother had at her house, so every year on New Year’s Day we would be forced to play with them because there was nothing else to do.”
She poked one as if they would bite. “They look boring.” A typical four-year-old response. “How do we play?”
“Well,” I said, picking up a red one. “You’re supposed to start with one, and try to hook another one onto his tail by the hand. See?” I demonstrated. She didn’t look amused. I picked up a yellow one by the hand, and then proceeded to a green one.
“Let me try?”
“Of course, that’s why I got them.”
She picked one up, yellow of course, that being her favorite, and she started trying. After a few failed attempts she got one and I applauded her.
“Yeah, I guess.”
She tried again, and again, getting five in a chain before she dropped them.
“This is boring.”
“It is not, watch. I’ll try to get a bunch.”
I picked up one, hooked it to another, then another, then another, and kept going until I had about ten. She had picked up a copy of ReadyMade magazine and started turning pages as if she could read it, and I realized I was playing alone. I dropped the string of seven monkeys I had going and with my hand swept them all back into the barrel.
“You’re right. These are boring.”
She smiled and went back to pretending to read the magazine.