The scene was straight out of The Godfather, except that the horse’s head lay surrounded by several other equine body parts.
“Dude, that’s one of Evan’s horsies,” I said, pointing at the pile of horse parts between our dog’s paws.
“I did not have anything to do with it,” Memphis said with her eyes, a hoof hanging out of her mouth. Our son Evan has always been careful about keeping his herd of plastic horses safely stored in its yellow bucket, but the Appaloosa colt must have wandered off by itself.
“Hide it, quick,” my wife Kara whispered. Our son Evan had his back turned to us as he rifled through his toy basket, so he hadn’t noticed the carnage that had taken place just a few feet away.
I scooped up the horse pieces and discreetly delivered them to the Great Trash Bag under the Kitchen Counter. When he turned back around, Evan didn’t notice the thinning of the herd, so we played it cool. I’m not sure how Evan would have reacted if he’d have seen how his favorite horsie went off to live on a nice farm, but it’s a safe bet that it would have been worse than the time Memphis snarfed the zucchini bread right out of his hand.
Though we take horse rustling very seriously at our house, Memphis couldn’t be entirely faulted for this particular indiscretion. She was temporarily insane because I hadn’t taken her for a walk in about a month, creating a surplus of destructive canine energy with no outlet. The old-man pains in my left knee had wrecked our nightly ritual, and the little Appaloosa had paid the price.
When you’re young, you’re hurt because you got beaned with a baseball, or you fell out of a tree or you wandered over to see why the firecracker hadn’t gone off yet. When you get old, you just wake up injured one day.
“Dude, my knee is killing me,” I said one morning, and that was the beginning of my month of limping around.
Being injured isn’t as much fun when you have a toddler in your house. You have to be careful about how much you complain, which ruins the most fun part of being injured.
“My knee hurts,” Evan announced last week, mimicking my limp.
“How’d you hurt it?” I asked.
“Because,” he replied. You’d be amazed how many questions can be answered that way.
Kara, now at the beginning of her third trimester, has much more to whine about than I do, but she also has to mind what she says in front of Evan. He recently walked up to us and announced in his whiniest voice, “I’m craaaampy.”
You do what you can for your children, but in the end, all you can really do is hope that your two-year-old experiences minimal discomfort with his uterus.
A few nights ago, I opened my laptop with our parrot/child in the room.
“Wanna push the buttons!” he said, trying for the keyboard as I brushed his hands away.
“I just need a second to finish this one thing,” I replied.
“Wanna push the buttons!” he insisted.
“Okay, okay. How do we ask?” I said, surrendering without wanting him to think he’d won.
“Pwease,” he said. I put the laptop into hibernate mode and pushed the keyboard toward him.
He mashed the buttons with glee, saying “Almost done, almost done, almost done.”
It took me a second to realize that he was imitating me, repeating what I say while I’m on my laptop.
“Push you down the slide, Daddy,” he said, bored with the laptop, motioning toward his big plastic school bus with the little three-foot slide on the back.
It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
You can bean Mike Todd with a baseball at email@example.com.