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Another page from the chapter THIS GIRL’S GONNA BE TROUBLE AS A TEENAGER:
It was a typical school morning at the Wheeler household – kids moving like slugs with Mom nagging them to get moving, get dressed, make lunches, eat breakfast, don’t forget to brush hair and teeth.
Suddenly trouble erupts down the hall.
“It’s my Slinky!”
“No, it’s my Slinky!”
“Give it back!”
“Get out of my room!”
Mom ignores the sound of normal morning chaos giving Logan, 11, and Whitney, 10, the opportunity to be problem solvers. And to use the diversion to try to check her emails. When the thumping and screeching reaches a critical level, she determines no problems are being solved and pushes her chair back from the computer, again thwarted at trying to achieve anything while the kids are still home.
“What’s going on?” Mom asks the universal question that translates to: This better be good for making me get up and come over here. Also, no matter what kids answer they’re still likely to end up being sent to their rooms.
“Whitney stole my Slinky!”Logan accuses foot wedged in his sister’s bedroom door.
“No I didn’t, it’s mine!” Whitney defends trying to smash her brother’s foot off with her bedroom door.
Mom glances at the silver Slinky in her daughter’s hand, this toy that has maybe seen seven minutes of playtime and no one has cared one iota for in at least four months. She vaguely recalls seeing it all over the house, but definitely never where it’s supposed to be. She makes a ruling.
“Logan, go to your room and get dressed. Whitney don’t come out of your room until your shoes are on and your hair is brushed. I expect lunches to be made by 7:45.” Before Whitney shuts her door Mom catches the hint of a victorious devious smirk.
Logan stomps off to his room slamming the door. Mom follows him to confirm her suspicion. And to tell him not to slam doors. She pokes her head in and scolds him before asking her son, who once declared himself Honest Abe, “Where’d you get that Slinky?”
“I got it for Christmas in my stocking. Whitney got a little green one. I remember because I asked her if I could try it and she wouldn’t let me.”
Her Santa’s helper memory jogged, it was as Mom suspected. Her daughter who had been known to play hard and fast with the truth was at it again. But Mom was going to give her the benefit of the doubt that she may really be mistaken or the opportunity to do the right thing.
When both kids were in the kitchen making lunches Mom said to Whitney, “Logan says that’s not your Slinky because you got a small green one in your stocking.”
Mom watched Whitney’s reaction as she first said, “Oh…” in defeat, but then like a captain who goes down with his ship, she straightened up and with the conviction of Richard Nixon added, “No. It’s mine. I’ve got one too.”
She refused to meet her mother’s disappointed eyes and ignored her brother’s frustrated protests as she made her sandwich.
Then in an entertaining turn of tactic Logan asked his sister, “Slinky Stealer, could you please pass the cheese?” She ignored him and handed him the cheese.
“Are you done with the turkey Slinky Stealer?” Without looking she slid him the lunchmeat.
“Hey Slinky Stealer, you want an apple sauce in your lunch?” Whitney glared at him shaking her head. But still she did not crack or ask for intervention from Mom – another sign of her guilt.
The rest of the morning Logan took every opportunity to address his sister as Slinky Stealer as if it were her given name. He even sang out as he ate his toaster waffle, “Oh, I hope you like being called Slinky Stealer for the rest of your life because that is what you are.”
And Mom knew her daughter. She pictured Whitney as an adult being referred to as “Slinky Stealer” by her friends and family because she would sooner own that nickname than cave in on a lie.
Whitney said nothing all morning. No protest. No angry “stop it!” But she did disappear into her room and her whereabouts could not be accounted for for a short time.
The Slinky has not been seen since. As quickly as it was coveted, it has been forgotten and the name calling has stopped.
My guess is it’s sleeping with the fishes in little cement boots or buried under Hammy the Hamster (God bless his diabetic fuzzy little soul) out front, but I guarantee it will never be seen again before Whitney would ever admit it wasn’t hers and let her brother have it back.