“I wish you were here,” she’s saying into the phone. And then she covers the mouthpiece with her hand and yells, “Cihan, cut it out.”
“Yes, we could totally sleep in a tent out back,” back in the phone. There is a sound of something falling, maybe breaking.
“Cihaaan!” She yells again. “Sorry babe, I gotta go. Muah,” she kisses into the phone, “Have a good night.”
“You will be the death of my love life,” she half mutters under her breath as she walks into the next room.
The boy is sheepishly standing over scattered pieces of his latest favorite toy, a building set of airplanes. At the sight of his innocent face all her anger melts away.
She sighs and helps him pick up the pieces. “Why aren’t you in bed yet, Chichu?”
“I was waiting for you,” he says.
She musses his hair. “You are a big boy now. You can go to bed by yourself while mommy is busy. Did you brush?”
He thrusts out his lower lip. He knows she finds his pout too adorable to protest. Then he says, “Mommy, did you know butterflies taste with their legs?”
He is a voracious reader and he never fails to impress her with trivia. Coming from anyone else it would be useless trivia, but from him it is priceless trivia. “They stand on a leaf and taste it. Did you know all butterflies have different wings?” He keeps talking about butterflies all the way to the bathroom and he can’t wait to be done brushing so he can continue where he left off.
In his bedroom, she removes the bed spread and carefully folds it away. He jumps on the bed and she spreads a blanket over him. When she’s done tucking him in he asks, “Mommy, can I get a playcube?”
The playcube is the latest video game gizmo. She has said no to video games before.
“I told you I will think about it,” she says. She sees he is crestfallen. He wants this game a lot more than any other because his best friend in school has it. “Doesn’t this connect to the TV? It’s bad for your eyes.”
“I will stand far from the TV.”
“And what if I want to watch the TV?”
“I’ll play only when you are not watching it. And I’ll let you play with me.”
“It is a lot of money. Have you saved enough in your piggy bank?” She knows the video game is close to a hundred dollars and she also knows he has close to forty dollars saved in his piggy bank. The boy knows he is short and resorts to sulking. “Maybe you can ask Santa for it this Christmas. I am sure you will be a good boy and Santa has to get it for you.”
Christmas is months away. That is an eternity for him. But he understands he has to be a good boy, so he nods his head.
She smiles and says, “I too have a piggy bank in which I have been saving for your video game.” He brightens up. “You save half of the money and I’ll save half. When we have enough we go buy it. OK?”
He nods vigorously. Then starts talking excitedly, “Do you know there is a game where you pretend to be a monkey and eat as many bananas as you can. And when other monkeys come to eat you can throw your banana peels and make them fall. And there is this game where you race a car and there are these bumps and turns in the road. And if you go too fast you are fall out of the road. Then you have to come back but all the other cars will race ahead.”
She strokes his hair while talks. Soon he is sleepy. He will have pleasant dreams tonight, maybe of monkeys eating bananas. She kisses him on his forehead and walks out of the room, turning the light off behind her.
After a few minutes she comes back, quietly entering the room, reaching into the closet and slipping a ten dollar bill into the piggy bank.