Then in the morning, the two of them began their weekend day as usual.
She pleaded “Daaaddy” while prone and unmoving. He went to collect her. As it was the weekend, he convinced her it was to be a lazy day, so more sleep was necessary and allowable. Now in his bed, she seemed to try to sleep. That lasted all of three minutes. After thirty minutes of unsuccessful attempts to quell her, he finally agreed to wake up.
“You forgot my chair,” she reminded him, standing and pointing to the table and chairs.
“That’s right I did,” he groggily responded. “How can you help me make chocolate chip pancakes if you don’t have your chair?”
“I want cocoa puffs,” she confessed.
“Really? That’s too bad. I want chocolate chip pancakes, so that’s what we’re having. It’s going to be a rough life kiddo.”
“What kind of cookies are we making?” she wanted to know.
“You’re not going to know them by name, but they’re called peanut butter blossoms. They’re special Christmas cookies.”
“Can I pour it? Can I pour it? Can I pour it?”
“Sure. Be careful, it’s heavy.”
“What’s that daddy?”
“It’s peanut butter.”
“You’re putting peanut butter with the muh-muh-margarine?” she asked, inquisitively seeking proper pronunciation affirmation.
“Yep, that’s what the recipe says to do.”
“Can I stir?”
“Uh, your bowl just has flower. But sure. Go ahead.”
“Look daddy, I’m stirring.”
“Yep, you’re doing a great job.”
“Why are you stirring so fast daddy?”
“Watch me stir fast!”
“Whoa, slow down. Try to keep the ingredients inside the bowl. You didn’t make the mess because you stirred fast, it’s that you didn’t watch what you were doing when you stirred fast. When I stir fast, I’m always watching the bowl. Understand?”
“Like this daddy?” she asked, beginning to speed up while looking him directly in the eye, again seeking approval.
“No silly, you’re still not looking at the bowl.”
“Why are you stirring so fast daddy?”
Luckily, for him, the war had acted as a preparation of sorts for relentless interrogations such as these.
“Just keep stirring your bowl H-.”
Sitting next to me at the table, her little body was shaking, arms bent at 90-degrees, fists clenched. “You know daddy, when I get frustrated, I smell a floor and blo ow a cannel,” she says so fast I couldn’t quite translate the three-year old speak into English.
“What?” I respond laughing. “You do what when you get frustrated? Why are you getting frustrated?”
“You know,” she begins to shake again, “when I get frustrated, at school, Miss Jen says when I get frustrated I smell a flower and blow out a candle,” she says, thinking she made her point clearly.
“You smell a flower and blow out a candle?” I ask slowly, enunciating.
“Yeah. At school when I get frustrated,” she reiterates, offering her wide open eyes and nodding head as evidence of her conviction.
“Who taught you this? Your mother or school?” I ask, more curious to discover if I’ll believe she is telling the truth when she answers than what her answer is.
“Miss Jen said at school,” her arms assume the position, but no shaking this time, “when I get frustrated, I should smell a flower and blow out a candle,” she says, not showing any signs of actually becoming frustrated during my uncalled for inquisition.
“Smell a flower and blow out a candle, eh?” I mutter to myself, this time widening my eyes as I take a deep breath through my nose and exhale through my mouth. “Ha,” I say, rolling my eyes, smirking. “What will they think up next?
Waking up, he kept his eyes closed. He was uncomfortable for sure. Besides feeling like he was sleeping on uneven ground, he felt a disabling heat surround him. It was a stifling heat. He thought back to the last thing that he could remember. He knew he was not alone. He knew they had traveled to this place, their destination. But where were they? And where was she? And why was it so hot?
Sweating, he could feel his pants clinging to his legs as if he had just climbed fully clothed from a hot spring. A curiosity overtook his movements and he reached out with his hand blindly feeling for anything. He felt something hot. That’s all he knew for certain. Suddenly he felt, not cool air itself, but the memory of cool air–the memory that cooler temperatures existed somewhere not too far from where he was.
Time taking effect, he began to remember where they were. It was a campground. They had setup their tent, and she wanted to take a rest. He couldn’t believe his luck, and so they both crawled in the tent, sun blazing. He remembered that before dozing off into a restful slumber he reassured himself that she couldn’t get into too much trouble within the confines of a tent, especially not a four-season, dual-door, dual-vestibule beaut like his. Still, she did have a sleeping bag, a water bottle that emptied at a rate equivalent to a sippy cup, and Pingu, her pink penguin.
Finally, he heard her whispering. It was unintelligible, so he made the decision to open his eyes and see she was up to. Looking towards her whispers, he was immediately struck by a fear brought on by the inexplicable. Her hair was soaked. Her shorts just below her waistline were soaked. In a moment, realizing she had not ‘rested’ but stayed up playing for who knows how long in a hot tent with no vents open, her sweaty hair made sense. But why were her pants wet? She was a potty trained three and a half year old. Then he finally heard a full sentence as she guiltily turned, pouring water into her hand.
“Okay Pingu, we’re almost done with your shower.”