Last night, Hadley was playing Dora the Explorer computer games when she found "The Explorer Girls." She called me over to check it out, and on the screen was a brown eyed girl that looked like Dora's big sister.
"I didn't know Dora had a big sister." I said to Hadley.
"No, Mama. This is Dora when she's older." she told me with a "keep up, old lady" tone.
"Oh." I said.
I looked closer at Older Dora. Her pink shorts were now fitted capris. Her orange tshirt was a trendy looking tunic. Her white sneakers were replaced with flip flops. Her hair was longer and layered. She had earrings. And her backpack was gone.
"Oh." I said again, trying to figure out how in less then a minute things went from, "How do you spell elephant, Mama?" to "Look at Dora's cool earrings!" Is this what we were doing now? Have we walked through this door? Puff, where are you, my friend? Could we meet for a beer later?
I sat next to Hadley and watched as she clicked on the different characters that introduced "The Explorer Girls." All very cute. I think they were trying to help lost puppies or something.
"Where's Boots?" I asked. Boots is Dora's best friend. He's a monkey who wears red boots and helps Dora solve whatever issue needs to be solved.
"I don't know. I don't think he's here." Hadley responded carelessly.
No Boots? He doesn't hang with the Explorer Girls? But he and Dora were best friends! What happened?
I looked around at the toys on the floor from a day's playing. How many days did I have left of playing with puzzles with Hadley? When will she stop singing "The ABCs", and what song will replace it? How much longer will itbe before the mall replaces the zoo as her favorite hang out spot? And why isn't Boots on "The Explorer Girls?"
I could be wrong, but I think a boy named Sam was my first friend. I loved to play with Sam. I don't remember all the things we did together, but I remember enjoying his company. He had a younger brother (who's now a pilot), and Geoff and I played at Rehm Park with Sam and Luke. Or we'd got swimming, or play some crazy made up game that I'm pretty sure Geoff and I convinced Sam and Luke would be great fun (Geoff, is that how snausage was invented?).
Sam and I went to different schools until high school, but as the ways of getting older go, we never reconnected like the days of sandboxes and orange popsicles. I remember once when I think I was a junior in high school my family went over to Sam's house for dinner. We kids stood in the kitchen while our parents were somewhere else in the house. I think Geoff and Luke were chatting for a bit, and Sam and I obliged a laugh here, and a "Yea, I know" there, but I remember both of us being clearly uncomfortable. We were both always quiet, so making small talk was a mild form of torture for us, but I remember feeling sad that the days of simple friendships and big imaginations were over.
And maybe that's just what happened to Boots. It's not that Dora didn't like him anymore, it's just that she didn't know what to do with a purple monkey with red boots. It doesn't make sense anymore. I mean, for Pete's sake, the girl's hair is layered!
I sat next to Hadley with my chin resting on my hand, lost in my own personal Bruce Springsteen song when Hadley clicked onto the other Dora.
"Hi! I'm Dora! And this is Boots!"
"Hola!" Boots says as he jumps in the air and clicks his boots together.
"You gonna do this game now?" I ask Hadley.
"What happened to the Explorer Girls?" I wondered.
"I'm done with them. I wanted to go back to the little Dora." she told me.
"OK. Well, I like little Dora. Plus, Boots is on this one. I like Boots. Don't you?"
"Yea, I like Boots. I like Older Dora, but I like this Dora, too." Hadley said.
"And Boots, right?"
"Yea." she muttered.
Boots, my friend, Puff and I will buy the first round. Sam, if you want to join us, you're welcome. Although, I haven't gotten any better at the small talk.