I work from home in the afternoons. It is not uncommon for me to be nursing Avery, typing an email and singing along to a song with Briar. The sounds and state of my dress are unimportant and largely unacceptable for work type activities, but it works for me. Except during phone calls.
Me: Ok, Briar. Mama’s gotta make a phone call. Here is you coloring book, some fishies, and your juice. Can you be quiet and color while Mama makes a call?
Briar: Yes, mama. I can.
Me: Great. I love you baby. Now be quiet and I’ll just be a minute.
Briar: Uh-huh. Briar gonna color. Not gonna be loud. Alright?
Me: Perfect. Thank you, I am so proud of you.
I walked over to the front porch as Briar sat at the dining room table.
Me: Ah, hello? Is Rachel available? Yes, I’ll hold. Good girl honey.
Briar: S’Ariel. I’s coloring Ariel.
Me: Amazing. Now just be very quiet for a minute. Rachel? Hi, it’s Amanda. I wanted to talk with you about the program.
Briar: Mama, I need a stick.
Me – whispering and covering the phone: Not right now, sweetie. Soon as I am done.
Briar: Please I need a stick.
I held my finger up, a frantic plea for quiet. She held her own finger up, eyes wide as saucers. She mouthed – I-need-a-stick-right-now.
I shook my head no, the woman on the other end of the line talking about a passion for non-profits.
Briar: I NEED A STICK.
I shook my head vigorously and shhh’d. Then I leapt down the front steps and searched for a stick. The voice was talking about financial implications and legalities and a string of other many-syllabled words that were not registering. Briar opened the door. I thrust an 18″ length of dried chive at her.
She held the dried bit of chive, turning it from side to side and looking at me with great concern. Surely I didn’t think that was a stick.
Her eyes opened wider, she craned her neck out and over-enunciated loudly: No, mama, a stick. I need a stick.
I shrugged my shoulders.
Me: Uh-huh, that’s almost exactly what I need, legal issues of money and non-profits.
The voice said some things and shook me from my stick reverie.
Me: Of course, I hadn’t meant that-
Briar stepped closer.
Briar: Mom, MOM! I need a stick.
I wrenched a branch from a bush and placed it in her hand.
She looked up at me, a chive in one hand and a bit of curled bush twig in the other. One cheek wrinkled up, as her head cocked to one side and she squinted at me.
Briar: Mama, please?
Rachel: Oh…(A sound that conveyed something between a relief at not having kids and an exasperation that I couldn’t just gove her a damn stick.)
Me: Rachel, I apologize. Can we talk later, I think for now knowing that you’d like to participate is great.
Rachel: We’re a long way out, and…
Her voice was washed out by pre-tantrum demanding whines for sticks. Red sticks.
Briar: Mama, I just want the red sticks. Please will you give me the red sticks?
I excused myself from the call, wrapping up quickly, and then paced the yard.
Me: Are the red sticks over here?
Me: Over here?
She was smiling.
Me: Can you tell Mama where they are?
Briar: Of course.
She turned and went inside. I followed as she waited in the kitchen.
Me: Oh, did you put them in your kitchen?
Me: Ok, so where are they?
I was standing next to the counter, a cabinet near my head.
She was pointing up toward the cabinet.
Me: In here?
I opened it and saw nothing but canned soup and vitamins.
Me: Honey, I just don’t see any sticks.
B: Mama, the red ones, like Daddy gave me.
Me: Like Daddy gave you?
B: Yup. He gived me red sticks to eat.
Me: To eat?
Now she was seriously laughing. red sticks? What the hell? Red. Sticks.
Me: You mean the red treats Daddy eats?
She was jumping, partly in anticipation of a treat and, I believe, in part celebrating the relief that I had not in fact completely lost it.
I searched the cupboard and then picked up the phone.
“Trampoline Design,” Sean answered.
“Tell me you didn’t finish the Twizzlers.”
“I did, why?” He asked.
“Because Briar has been begging and demanding red sticks for the better part of a half an hour while I’ve been on the phone, when I finally realized she was referring to Twizzlers I made for the cupboard and found nada.”
“Bwa hahahahahahaha! Red Sticks. Hahahahahaha. That’s awesome.”
“So not awesome. Quit eating the last thing!” I hung up.
Briar looked up at me, blue eyes brigh and hopeful.
Me: Honey, the red sticks are a special treat with you and dad. How about I give you another treat?”
B: Naw, dat’s ok, I’ll wait for Daddy and the red sticks.