It’s hot. Sally has been half naked all day. It’s almost never hot here. Nobody even has air conditioning — downright third world, if you ask me, even if we would only need it one week out of the year, the week we each wear our one pair of shorts till they are grungy molds of our rears.
A bad thing about heat is that it makes you avoid human contact. When you’re just you, that’s okay. When you have a 30-pound, walking, talking growth who wants you to hold not only her but her heat-trapping devil blanket, you start getting cranky. The only way to avoid becoming the Incredible Hulk’s less nice cousin is to keep everyone busy. You’d rather lie on the floor and let the flies buzz around you, of course, but moving around is better than having another sweaty body touch yours. Also, it helps prevent the worst thing about the heat: Flaring tempers.
Unfortunately, for us it’s too late. Sally is sick, I’m hungry and we’re having a showdown. All we’re missing is a tumbleweed.
“You pick it up.”
“No, Sally, you dropped it and you’re closest to it. You pick it up.”
“You do it.”
“No, you do it.”
I should point out here that she is 2, I’m 31 and we’re talking about a teensy play swing that goes with her Calico Critters house. Not my finest parenting moment. Still, neither of us budges. Two pair of blue eyes pierce each other while tiny, country-clad toy cats lay on the table, ready to melt into the paint.
Her eyes narrow. “Mommy, are you feeling . . . angry?”
“No.” Yes. But this is a stupid argument and I will win stupid arguments. “It’s simply your job to pick it up.”
She puts her hand on her revolver. I spit out chewing tabacco. Fragile onlookers avert their eyes. So this is how it ends.
“Can I have lemonade?”
“. . . Sure.”
My only saving grace in this heat is that her attention span is shorter than mine. But don’t think she’s forgotten the battle: Five hours later the swing is still on the floor and we’ve had the exact same argument two more times. Each ended with a refreshment. It’s supposed to cool down late this week. Maybe then she’ll pick up the toy.