June 11th, 2012
It’s 2:45 on Friday. I arrive at their elementary school to pick them up from 4th and 2nd grade. They approach, sluggishly, pinched faces, sullen expressions. I’m suddenly on alert. Defo-Con 5.
ME: (smiling like you would at crazed gunmen in clown costumes. I show no fear) Hi, guys! How was your day?
CLARE: (as though on life support) You’re late, mommy, and I’m exhausted.
BRIDGET: It was too hot and you didn’t pack me a water bottle. I almost died of thirst.
CLARE: I’m parched like a sub-Saharan desert.
Shit. The Despondency/Mommy Shaming routine. They want something. Ice cream. Money. My very soul. They can just forget it. I’m no amateur. I can out-miserable the little bastards.
ME: (faux understanding): Sorry guys, I’m a little off my game today since I have a pounding headache.
CLARE: My throat hurts really bad.
BRIDGET: I think I twisted my ankle and I can barely walk.
ME: That’s too bad. Just don’t talk too loud because it feels like a hammer is hitting my brains.
CLARE: It feels like a cat with nine-inch claws is scratching my throat.
BRIDGET: It feels like burning hot lava is scorching my ankle and melting it into a fleshy stump.
ME: I might be having a cerebral aneurysm that will make it impossible to remember you’re my children.
This throws them. Silence as they ponder their next move. We get in the minivan. The sliding doors close. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. Seat belts engaged. I fire up the engine.
CLARE: (in a deathbed whisper): I feel like I’m going to barf.
BRIDGET: I’ve felt like I was going to barf since lunch.
ME: I’m barfing in my mouth right now.
BRIDGET: Mom, please take us to The Avengers.
I see Clare’s eyes bulge at Bridget in the rear view mirror. They’ve played their hand too soon. The gig is up.
ME: There is no way I’m taking you to a PG-13 movie with a bunch of men in tights. It’s just not appropriate.
Silence. My authority stands.
CLARE: That’s okay, I’m too depressed to see The Avengers anyway.
BRIDGET: I’m so depressed my freckles hurt.
ME: I’m so depressed my smile muscles have atrophied.
That shuts them up. Then this…
BRIDGET: But when I’m with you mommy, it makes me happy.
CLARE: (like Tuesday Addams): Yeah, you’re the best.
They’re not going to outflank me with flattery. No fucking way, man!
ONE HOUR LATER
ME: I thought Thor would be so lame with that hammer. But it’s very manly.
CLARE: Thor’s hot!
If you liked this you might also like The Battle of the Narcissists.
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