Stick That In Your Dragon And Puff It.

My heart has been broken many times over the years for many different reasons. Usually it has had something to do with a woman. Once I even loaned my car to the woman I was madly in love with that week so she could go out on a date with another guy.

A few times I’ve had my heart set on a job or a promotion that did not come my way and was very hurt, but… C’est la vie!

Or, as Bon Jovi so eloquently put it: “When the world gets in my face, I say, Have a nice day.

Wait a second…“Have A Nice Day?” Are you kidding me? What ever happened to Bon Jovi?  Consider his response to life in 1990 when he rocked with “Blaze of Glory.” Now he got a hair cut and panders to working married women in their 40’s with 3 kids and a dog. In 1988, if you got in Bon Jovi’s face you’d be scared the man just might actually be wanted, dead or alive somewhere out west.  

Now, he just wishes you to “Have A Nice Day?”

This was the guy could alternately lay on a bed of nails and  roses, for cryin’ out loud.

ATTENTION: To the government agency/alien race that abducted Bon Jovi sometime during his hiatus in the late 90’s, can you please return him?

But of all the things that have broken my heart over the years, such as woman viewing me more like a little brother than a lover, or my favorite rock stars turning soft on me, my latest hurt stings in a different way.


Not my age. It’s never really bothered me as I’ve gotten older, but strangely enough it is bothering me as my children are growing up. I find myself both swelling with pride and missing the moments that are lost forever all at the same time.

When my son was younger I would often sing to him. His favorite song was “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” It’s a beautiful little bitty ditty about a little boy who has a magical friend named ‘Puff” and the two would have amazing adventures together. (No, the song is not about pot, so don’t even go there) I would sing this song for him almost every night before he fell asleep. I even burned this song on a CD for him and he would have me play it over and over again while we waited for his mother to shop.

“Play it again, Daddy!”  So I would. I never minded listening to this song 5-6 times in a row. Besides, sometimes his mother took awhile to shop.

Puff, the magic Dragon, lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee. Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff and brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sails, Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff’s gigantic tail. Noble kings and princes would bow whene’er they came. Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name.”

There were many nights I would watch him as his eyes would begin to flicker in REM sleep. I couldn’t help but wonder what adventures he was dreaming about with a dragon of his very own.

It was one of the most precious moments I’ve had as a father. (To all of you single readers; I’ve had many amazing moments like this as a parent, btw. That is one of the daily miracles of being a daddy…you get bags of stories like this)

But there is a tragedy woven into the second verse of the song. It broke my heart when I would sing it to my son years ago, and it broke my heart earlier this week:

A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys. Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys. One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more and Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar. His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain. Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane. Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave, So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.”

Little boys grow up and forget about the dreams they had when they were toddlers. My son and I were talking about the earliest memory he had. He rattled on about things that happened last week.

“No, Gavin…I mean before that.”

He came up with a story or two from Kindergarten.

Out of the blue, I asked my son about “Puff.” He did not remember the song at all. I realized that it had been years since I sang it to him and somewhere between now and then was that grey night it happened.

My son had grown up just a little bit and had left his old magic world behind forever. 

That stung.

Of course his imagination is just as active as ever. Puff the Magic Dragon has been replaced by the mighty Smog and tales of Hobbits. Noble Kings and Pirate Ships have been replaced by Han Solo and Batman. He still imagines worlds beyond our own, but somewhere in the mists of his imagination lies a forgotten little island called Honah Lee with a very lonely dragon that has been waiting for a little boy who will never return.


9 thoughts on “Stick That In Your Dragon And Puff It.

  1. I used to love that song too. Still have it on a record somewhere. Yes, watching your kids grow up, and leaving behind the treasured memories, is difficult. Mine are grown up, and whenever they hear a certain song, or find an old toy, they tell me and we reminisce.

  2. I should have heeded your wife’s warning and had my Kleenex handy! Our oldest is 21 now and the “babies” are 16, but I love to look back with them and remember the “adventures” they had when they were younger. It is hard to see them grow up and lose the innocence of youth, but that is the great thing about memories…no one can take them away from you! Treasure every moment, because it truly does go by fast!

  3. Well done. Poignant. We have to keep moving forward. The hardest part for me has been facing the empty bedrooms when they’ve gone to college. Savor every minute.

  4. It’s funny, I sort of feel that way about my younger sisters. They are 5 and 7 years younger than me and, while I have mini-freakouts over my aging, the fact that my “baby” sister turns 30 in exactly a month, makes me scream and flail and want to break out the pacemaker and cane. And you know what? THEY forget the good stuff, too.

    And Puff may not have been about Mary Jane, but H.R. Puffinstuff TOTALLY was!

  5. OK, Aaron: The tags for this post have to be the most wonderfully random lot I’ve ever seen: Bon Jovi, Growing Up, Hobbits, Parenting, Puff the Magic Dragon, Relationships. Man, I wish someone would make a movie starring Bon Jovi as a Hobbit who has a loving, committed relationship with a dragon …

    Seriously, though: Great post. And as a new subscriber, I look forward to many more!

  6. Pingback: Six for Saturday — I’m getting hooked on this « Random Thoughts from Midlife

  7. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger Award: the Behemoth of WordPress!! « heatherlgraham

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