Friday, September 30, 2005


We are waiting for the school bus, the Things and I. It is a crisp morning.

"It's cold," T1 says.

It's not cold," I say. "It's crisp, that's all."

"It is cold," T2 announces definitively.

"Maybe a little," I say.

"I'm freezing," Ti says.

"That's impossible," I say.

"I need to put my hood on." T1 says.

"No hood!" I shout.

"But I'm freezing," T1 repeats.

"No hood," I say. "Mommy said it will mess up your hair."

T1 starts to whimper.

"Have you gone crazy?" I ask.

T1 glowers at me, continues whimpering and makes to shiver.

"That's it," I say. "I specifically told them at the baby store that I didn't want any crazy ones. And here you've gone crazy. I may have to take you back and ask for a refund."

T1 is shivering into her jacket, not acknowledging me, but T2 is suddenly paying close attention.

"How much do you think I could get for your sister, if I returned her in this condition?" I ask.

T2 guesses high. "Twenty dollars?"

"Twenty dollars!" I say. "I'll do it! I'll return her right after school and the two of us will go out for hamburgers and ice cream with the money."

T2 is grinning from ear to ear. This is a promising development.

T1 has slunk behind the car. She is not happy. Her face is beet red; she looks as if she may burst into tears.

"I was just kidding," I said. "I wasn't really going to return you."

She doesn't respond.

The bus is due any second. If she gets on crying the mom grapevine will find out and spring into action. Somehow they'll blame me, and rumors will spread that my parenting skills are lacking, that I'm inappropriate. It will get back to LZ. She won't think it is funny.

I bend over and whisper to T1. "I told you I was just kidding. It's really your sister I'm returning. Keep it a secret."

She nods and smiles. Crisis over.

"Here comes the bus," I say. "Have a good day."

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