I arrive for our appointed playdate, but Tina is nowhere to be seen.
“She’s in the bathtub,” I’m told.
I complain loudly that we can’t put Fiddlestix in the tub, and soon a small, clean, wet person emerges, wrapped in a towel. She dries and dresses, and the games begin.
Tina hands me a plastic fruit container containing Little Lamb, and instucts me to take out Lamb and a toy. Tenderly, she lays Lamb in a blanket and takes her to the hallway, where she has dumped the Fiddlestix. My first task is to build a castle for Lamb to play in. While I struggle to build a castle that will stand the tests of time (at least five minutes), Tina transforms it into an objet d’art with stix at odd angles and red and yellow flags. Yes, Lamb will have fun here.
But look! A monster is coming, and it’s already eaten other animals! While Tina curls up with Lamb and watches, I anaesthetize the monster with a mysterious substance poured from an empty salt shaker. With a plastic knife as a scalpel, I open up the beast and liberate baby horses, a baby giraffe, and a mother and baby rhino. I then carry the groggy monster away from our play area, assure Tina that I haven’t hurt it, and tell it to go and eat grass.
Our moment of peace is interrupted by another alarm. This time there’s a huge monster hanging from the ceiling, with hooks to catch animals. With two long stix I lower the brute to the surgical suite, remove the intact prey, hand them over to Tina for care and comfort, and banish the monster with exhortations to become a vegetarian.
Over to Tommy’s.
Backstory: When I last went to Tommy’s, he was having a lot of fun with Mommy and didn’t want me to read him stories.
“I’m afraid to come back,” I tell Lisa. “I’m afraid saying no to me will get to be a habit.”
Lisa’s a sly one. “Just come over to visit, not to see Tommy,” she suggests.
Yes, of course! When the man of her dreams rejects her for another, what’s a girl to do? Play hard to get, of course.
When Anna calls me at Maria’s, I decide to go over to Lisa and Anna’s and talk to Anna in person.
When I arrive at Tommy’s, Anna and I go into her bedroom and shut the door. Tommy comes in uninvited, sits on my knee, and invites me to watch him play his game. “Not right now,” I tell him. “I’m talking to Auntie Anna right now.”
Later he tries again, but I’m really (yes, really!) interested in what Anna has to say.
I stay for supper and Tommy wonders if we could play “grocery cart” later. Yes, I believe I’ll have time.
The Talking Grocery Cart orders me to go to sleep. I lie down and try, protesting that grocery carts don’t have mouths, and my nanoseconds of peace are shattered by shrill orders to wake up. Again and again this merciless cart lulls me to sleep, then annihilates the stillness. Until he spots Amelia Bedelia. We enjoy the misadventures of the well-meaning maid, then launch into Bible stories . . . and more Bible stories.
As I’m leaving, Lisa asks, “Did you get your grandma time?”