Little Pumpkin

October 8, 2012

On Saturday, I took Dot to the University’s organic farm harvest festival, and told her she could choose her own pumpkin.

There were giant, orange pumpkins, medium pumpkins, tiny green pumpkins, funny yellow oblong pumpkins, white ghostly pumpkins – more pumpkins and kinds of pumpkins than I’d ever seen before.

There was, however, only one pumpkin that was tiny and yellow and slightly rotten, with a withered brown stem. Dot found it, of course, and it was love at first sight.

I could not get her interested in any of the other tiny green pumpkins, or the small orange one she’d initially liked the best. Nope. Once she’d seen that little yellow pumpkin, it was her pumpkin, and she wasn’t going to let go of it. I should have nipped that pumpkin love in the bud, I know, but she’s never had a favorite toy that has stayed a favorite for long, and I thought she’d grow bored with the pumpkin before we got home. But I drastically underestimated her love for her new friend. By the time we arrived home, she had named it “Little Pumpkin,” and hugged and kissed it many times. And for the rest of the day she played with Little Pumpkin. She swung it by its stem to make it dance, she showed it to her daddy, proclaiming, “This is the one I choose! Because I love it!” She insisted upon sleeping with it at night.

On Sunday, Little Pumpkin had to come with us to the Arboretum, and then Little Pumpkin had to be in the bed during Dot’s nap.

“Does she need a clean diaper?” N asked me.

“No,” I said.

He sniffed the air. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I replied, grimly. “What you’re smelling is Little Pumpkin.”

After Dot fell asleep, I grabbed that smelly little squash and attempted to dry it out in the oven. It works for gourds, right? And pumpkins are related to gourds, right? I set the oven on low heat, made sure the oven light was off, and set little pumpkin in a bed of salt on a pyrex bowl in the middle rack. I crossed my fingers. When Dot woke up, she asked for her pumpkin, and, fool that I am, I told her I’d taken Little Pumpkin to the “pumpkin doctor.” At which point she cried and I frantically promised that Little Pumpkin would be back soon.

Early this morning I sneaked into the kitchen to check on Little Pumpkin, and while Little Pumpkin is no longer stinky, it is also about 1/4 its original size and no longer at all yellow. It has caved in on itself and developed a withered, mummified texture. It’s pretty awful, and bears no resemblance to the Little Pumpkin with which Dot fell in love.

I am a pumpkin murderer, my friends.  A mad scientist pumpkin murderer.

Now I am thinking of various kinds of deception. Because first thing this morning, Dot asked for Little Pumpkin. Little Pumpkin is supposed to be back from the pumpkin doctor today! And while I told myself I’d always be honest with my child, I’m really not ready to have the death talk right now. Not about a pumpkin, dear as it may have been. Also, I don’t want to let her know that I’m a crazy murderer of pumpkins and that I dried her little friend into a withered, leathery, blob in our kitchen. Think of the nightmares!

So, do I try to muster my very limited sewing skills and try to make a yellow fabric pumpkin of the same size and approximate weight? Do I search the grocery stores for something resembling an apricot-sized yellow pumpkin? Do I say that Little Pumpkin was accepted into Madame Courgette’s School of Dance (the most prestigious school of dance for any pumpkin, gourd, or squash, you know), and had to leave without saying goodbye? Do I go to the pet store and tell her that Little Pumpkin has transformed into a goldfish?

I know that last sounds crazy, but somehow I feel like I’d be ready to talk about death if it pertained to a goldfish. More so than a squash, anyway.

Plus, Little Pumpkin strikes me as a good name for a goldfish, really.

Of course, I really just wish that death and decay would stay far away from her forever. A strange wish for this month of Halloween, but there it is.


  1. Oh this is tricky. Perhaps a new pumpkin, similar in size, could be Little Pumpkin after the doctor has “cured” him by turning him orange?

  2. Oh poor Little Pumpkin. Poor Dot. Poor mama. Oh and you tried so hard to preserve her precious pumpkin, it simply isn’t fair!

    But Little Pumpkin, your transformation was not entirely in vain, as you made a woman on another continent fall off her chair with laughter in a room of mainly silent number crunchers. Still – I know that won’t be any consolation to your infatuated owner, little Dot 😦

    I like the sound of Madame Courgette’s School of Dance. Sounds prestigious and the kind of place that a pumpkin would do well not to refuse.

    Oh what a hilarious, heartbreaking situation. So often I find myself now halfway between hysterical laughter and sobbing. Because you describe the situation with such humour and so beautifully that I almost feel I witnessed the transformation of Little Pumpkin. And yet I know that I would feel horribly guilty had I been the mad scientist pumpkin murderer.

    And I have been. Well, not exactly. But close enough. I murdered a beloved fairy wand with my feet. The cries of, “Mummy, mix it. You CAN mix it. You CAN.” Still haunt my dreams.

    So sorry Little Pumpkin. Your smelliness cost you dear. Hopefully Dot will accept one of your delightful explanations. So much more inventive than mine, “Mummy trod on it darling. Can’t mix it. Sorry about that.”

  3. We went through this with an orange. Luckily oranges all look pretty much alike. That’s not very helpful. How about this?–when we assassinated C’s pacifier, we just showed her the remains and let her cry it out. It was seriously like that part in Platoon where Willem Defoe drops to his knees as the chopper leaves him behind…awful…awful. But at least it was over.

    Good luck. I see another trip to the pumpkin patch in your future.

  4. Buy a new pumpkin and tell her little pumpkin grew while she was away?

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