Clifford, the dog in my truck

March 11, 2009 § 6 Comments

Between high school graduation and college I had a free semester. To pass the time I worked at an elementary school daycare program, just an hour before and after school each day. Don’t worry, I was much better with children then.

There was one boy in the program, B, who was shy, polite and sweet, which really stood out in comparison to the other rugrats who were anything but. He was small, and preferred to spend his time interacting with the staff rather than getting into trouble with the other boys. We were buddies.

After a month or so I was offered a full-time position at another organization, and I took it. Neither I nor my co-caretakers mentioned anything about my leaving to the kids; the turnover rate was high and there was no reason to think that they would even notice. On my last day, I said a final goodbye to everyone as they went to class. B stopped in front of me, eyes wide. “You’re not coming back?”

“No, I have to go to another job. I’ll miss you, though.” If hugging hadn’t been on the big no-no list I’d have squeezed him silly.

He got a very serious look on his face and set his backpack down on the ground. He reached down and sorted through the many stuffed animals hooked to his bag, finally unclipping a small plush version of Clifford the big red dog. He held it out to me. “This is for you.”

“But that’s your dog, you should keep him…”

“No, I want to give you a present.”

So I took the toy, trying not to cry, and told him that I would keep it in my car to keep me company wherever I went. Clifford would be my truck dog. B smiled and walked away to go to class.

It wasn’t until I got home and composed myself again that I realized that the dog had his name on the tag, so he wouldn’t lose it.

It’s been nine years. Clifford still sits on my dashboard and keeps me company, wherever I go.

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