I do not own any of the franchises listed in this chapter!
Peas and Thank You
He needed a role model.
For years, the only stereotype that Rex had wanted to fill was that of a classic Tyrannosaurus. He'd gotten inspiration from movies and books and Andy's glowing imagination, but now that he needed to learn how to be a dad, he wasn't really sure who to turn to. Andy's father had died not long after Molly was born, and Rex had never met him. Bonnie's dad seemed nice and often played with his daughter and her toys. But Rex couldn't exactly pop to life and ask for some pointers on parenting. In the end, he decided to turn to his friends for help.
He started with Mr. Potato Head.
"Why me?" the plastic spud demanded.
"Pleeeeeease?" Rex begged. "You're the only toy I know who's a dad!"
"Hmph. Wasn't exactly my first choice."
Potato Head flung his hands up in exasperation.
"Okay, fine. You wanna know how to be a good parent? Rule Number One: Discipline! The kids do exactly what you tell them to do when you tell 'em to do it. Even if they don't want to do stuff, make 'em. Builds character. Rule Number Two: Demand Respect! They call you 'Sir' and they call your missus 'Ma'am'. They don't interrupt, and they don't talk back. Rule Number Three: Be Consistent!" He rolled his eyes. "Don't tell the kids they can't stay up late to watch a sci-fi marathon and then let Buzz Lightyear talk you into letting them stay up anyway. You lay down the law and that's it." He shook his finger at the dino impressively. "No waffling."
"O-okay…" Rex shuffled his feet around nervously. "Is… that all?"
Mr. Potato Head shrugged. "Yeah, pretty much. Follow those three rules and you can't go wrong."
The toy dinosaur fidgeted a bit. "But… but what about stuff like telling them bed-time stories and hugging them when they're scared? What about making sure they have their lunch money on pizza day, or m-maybe getting them a puppy for their birthday? Isn't that important?"
Potato Head snorted. "Well yeah, there's mushy stuff like that too, I guess."
"How do I do that?" Rex asked eagerly.
"I have no idea," the spud said shortly. "The missus takes care of that."
Rex wilted slightly. "But I don't-"
"Have a missus, I know, I know," Potato Head cut in grimly. "You should get one."
"Me?" Rex squeaked. "B-but-"
"Have you thought about Trixie?"
The poor dinosaur quickly excused himself. He didn't think he could handle becoming a father and a married toy all in the same day!
Next, he tried talking to Jessie.
"Oh golly, Rex!" she gasped. "What makes you think I'd know anything about bein' a parent?"
"You take care of Bullseye," Rex pointed out. "You're kind of like his mama, aren't you?"
The cowgirl's face flushed and she looked down at her boots. "Well gee… we sorta take care of each other, y'know? We only had each other all those years we were in storage together before the Prospector came along and…"
Her voice trailed away. She risked a glance at Bullseye. The little horse was smiling at her, his short tail whisking happily back and forth, big eyes glowing. He ducked his head under Jessie's hand, silently asking her to pet him. The cowgirl gave a wobbly sort of smile as her fingers began to rub through his mane.
"I guess I never really thought about it like that," she murmured. "I just always wanted to make Bullseye as happy as he makes me-"
The toy horse's tail wig-wagged even faster.
"- and I guess I just got used to makin' sure he always had what he needed. I mean, he can't talk or anything, so I had to learn to listen real good."
"But how?" Rex persisted. "How do you know if he can't talk?"
She shrugged. "I dunno. I guess, bein' that I'm a cowgirl and he's a horse and we're both toys from Woody's Roundup, I just know."
Rex fidgeted. "But you're a girl," he said finally. "M-maybe that's why you know what to do…"
Jessie grinned. "Try tellin' that to Woody. He knows how to take care of Bullseye the same as I do, and he ain't a girl. You'll figure out what to do once you spend some time with the babies, Rex."
"But what if they don't like me?"
"I like you," Jessie said gently. "Bonnie likes you. So do Buzz and Woody and Trixie and Dolly… all of our friends love you, Rex. Why should the babies be any different?"
What if they didn't like him? What if the babies were scared of him? What if they took one look at his oversized jaws and his undersized arms and realized that he wasn't built to be a nurturing parent? What if they cried? What he really needed, he decided, was feedback from toys younger than himself. Toys who were like children.
He asked the Peas-in-a-Pod
"Let 'em stay up late!" Peatey shouted.
"An' watch scary movies!" Peatrice chimed in. "An' eat as much ice cream as they want!"
Peanelope spoke up solemnly. "And never ever make 'em do stuff they don't wanna."
"But…" Rex fidgeted hopelessly. "… what about making them do stuff because it's good for them? Like homework and brushing their teeth and - and eating their vegetables?"
The Peas' eyes went wide.
Rex blinked. "What?"
"Cannibal," Peatey whispered.
"Cannibal!" they screamed. "Vegetarian!"
Rex flailed his arms desperately. "N-no! Wait! I don't even like veggies! I'm a carnivore!"
They fled. Rex whimpered. He really needed some parenting lessons.
He just didn't know who to turn to.
At first Woody wasn't sure what had woken him.
Bonnie's room was very quiet, with only the sounds of the little girl's soft breathing and the subtle whirring of her nightlight. The cowboy doll cautiously turned his head to look at the child. Patterns of moons and stars drifted over her face from the nightlight. She was definitely asleep.
For a moment Woody watched her, a faint smile on his face. It still gave him a thrill, after all these years, just to watch a kid sleep. It was one of the things he had cherished most about being Andy's favorite toy. Sleeping in the toy box with all of his friends could never, ever compare to this.
Woody slipped out from under the covers. He craned his neck to look around the room. Dolly and Buttercup were here in bed with Bonnie. Jessie, Bullseye, Buzz, Slink, and Mr. Pricklepants were arranged on the toy chest. The Potato Heads and their alien children were sitting at the tea table, while Torotoro, Hamm, Trixie, and the Peas-in-a-Pod were lying in the new toy hammock. Rex…
Woody frowned. Rex should have been in the hammock as well. Woody remembered seeing Bonnie put him there. Perhaps he had fallen out. The Sheriff clambered down the side of the bed and landed noiselessly on the floor. He was about to start hunting around for the Tyrannosaur when he noticed the door ajar. On a hunch, he tiptoed out of the room and down the hall.
He found Rex sitting in front of the computer. The toy dinosaur was staring at the screen.
Rex blinked and looked down at Woody.
"What are you doing?" the cowboy demanded in a whisper. "You know you're not supposed to go anywhere at night without a lookout."
"Woody," the T-Rex whimpered, "Do you have a credit card I could borrow?"
"I'll try to pay you back…"
Woody groaned in frustration and began climbing the chair. "Rex, why don't you just begin at the beginning and tell me exactly why you need a credit card at three o'clock in the morning."
"It-it's because of the baby dinosaurs-"
Rex was shaking visibly. "I couldn't sleep," he whispered. "I kept thinking about what a big responsibility babies are, and I thought I'd feel better if I did some research-"
"Research?" Woody paused with one leg over the chair back and raised an eyebrow at his friend.
"Well, yeah. I found this website about how to take care of baby dinosaurs-"
Rex made a little choking noise. "Yes. And oh Woody it's awful! I never knew how much stuff baby dinosaurs need! Special food a-and blankets and playpens… and c-car seats… and diapers…"
"And it's so expensive…"
By now Woody had pulled himself up onto the desk and could get a good view of the computer screen. He glanced over it quickly. He coughed.
"Um, Rex, what did you type into the search engine?"
The dinosaur sniffled. "Babysaurus dot com."
The cowboy choked. "Rex, you got redirected to BabiesRUs."
More sniffling. "S-so?"
"It's a store for human babies," Woody said, desperately trying to hold back a laugh. "You don't – you don't need all this stuff."
"You mean-" sniff "-I spent all this time-" sniff sniff "-creating a registry-" sniff "-for nothing?"
Woody couldn't help it. He dropped to his knees and laughed harder than he had in years.
Rex stopped sniffling and stared at his friend in bewilderment.
"I'm sorry!" Woody giggled, trying to get ahold of himself. "I'm-I'm really sorry Rex!"
He finally calmed down and gave his dinosaur pal a warm smile. Rex smiled back timidly. Woody shook his head.
"No Rex, I don't think you need to create a baby registry. Not on this site or any other. In fact, I think the best thing you could do is turn the computer off."
"Now," the Sheriff said gently. "And then I want to tell you a few things, okay?"
Rex nodded, obviously confused.
Once the computer had been completely shut off, Woody helped Rex to climb down. He motioned for the dinosaur to follow him back to Bonnie's room. The two toys sat down on the bookshelf, where there was the least chance of disturbing the little girl with their whispers.
"Now," Woody began, "The first thing you need to remember is that these are toy dinosaurs, Rex. Not live ones. So you don't need to worry about anything other than normal toy maintenance stuff, which I think we've got pretty much down pat after more than thirteen years, right?"
The Tyrannosaur gave a nod.
"And anyway, nobody's gonna have an on-line baby dinosaur care guide because dinosaurs are… uh…w-well…"
"Extinct?" Rex said faintly.
Woody put a comforting arm around his friend's shoulders. "Live dinosaurs are extinct," he reminded him, "Not toy ones. I don't think toy dinos will ever go extinct. They're too loveable."
Rex managed a worried little smile.
"Second, keep in mind that we're all here to help you. If you need anything, anything at all, just ask us, okay?"
The toy dinosaur wrung his tiny hands nervously. "O-okay…"
"That goes double for me," Woody said, giving Rex's shoulder a little shake. "Any time, day or night, sleeping or playing, you can come to me for anything."
Slowly, the panicky expression faded from the dinosaur's face, and changed to a look of wonder. A little smile spread across his jaws.
"What?" Woody asked, suddenly feeling self-conscious.
"Woody," Rex asked, regarding him with awe. "Who taught you to be such a great dad?"
Hello to all!
Thanks so much fo your great response, everybody! I didn't expect chapter one to get such a nice reception :D
I actually wrote Woody's part of this chapter before anything else. It was one of those rare instances where the characters just stepped right up and told me what they needed to say. It took me about fifteen minutes to type and I only changed one or two sentences. That never happens when I write! I guess I just love the dynamic between Rex and Woody so much that this sequence came naturally :)
Thanks for reading! I'll see you next saturday ~Owl