After an entire week with Bobo, all I’ve managed to write was a short blurb, and it was about him. I’m wondering if that’s his egotistical plan.
Today, after cleaning up the banana peelings Bobo threw around the kitchen and sweeping the fish-shaped cheese crackers that didn’t make it into Bobo’s mouth, from the floor, I spotted a note Dad had left on the refrigerator with a butterfly magnet. With a chorus of “eeh-eeh-eeh” behind me, I read Dad’s words like a commandment to doom.
We’re light on groceries and I’ll be working late. Please stop at the store and pick up whatever you’d like for supper – yes, it’s your turn to cook, but please don’t choose macaroni and cheese again. Find something new to make. How is your writing going? Remember, if you’re not going to use your free time constructively, there are plenty of chores around the house that could be shared.
See you tonight.
“What? Is he freaking nuts?”I spouted into the air. “Dad, do you remember you left me in charge of a monkey?”
So, either I figure out how to trust Bobo to stay out of trouble at home – as if! – or bring a toddler-sized gremlin to the store. Dad was wrong about me. Creativity was not my strong suit. I had no idea how to pull this off. Were monkeys allowed in stores? I wondered exactly what kind of chores Dad meant, but I knew he’d make them extra sucky, just to keep me motivated.
I’m not going to lie and say an idea popped into my brain like magic, but I did roll up my sleeves and rummage through a trunk of old baby and kid clothes saved from who-knew-when.
Bobo twisted in my grip and squealed as I tried to pull miniature jeans up over his Pull-up diaper.
“Eeeech,” he screamed, which made me wonder if he objected to the idea of clothing, or to the fact pink lace outlined the pockets on these tiny jeans.
He kicked and swiped his arms at me, but within an hour, he was dressed to kill – stylish jeans, long-sleeved red hoodie and white knit gloves to cover his furry hands, little brown shoes with shiny 3-D emblems of clowns on the sides, and a slightly battered Halloween mask of Porky the Pig – the only thing I could think of to hide his face. Besides, little kids can get away with anything.
Because I knew not to trust Bobo to behave during the six-block walk downtown, I called me best pal, Trevor, for a ride.
He even managed to borrow a car seat from someone, so Bobo could travel safely.
Trevor’s help meant a lot, but once we were sitting in his rusted Chevy in the asphalt parking lot of Cub Foods, Trevor bailed.
“Aren’t you coming in?” I asked Trevor.
“Eeh-eeh-eeh.” Bobo kicked at the back of the seat I was planted on.
I turned around, ordered “Stop it!”, and turned back to Trevor.
Trevor let out a sly grin, tipped the bill of his red and black cap and looked at Bobo, then me. “You’re on your own for this one.”
You’re a big help, I thought, forgetting the favor of the ride.
Once inside, the smell of baked goods and fresh fruit hit me right away. Bobo must have liked it too.
To be safe, I put him in one of Cub Foods’ child seats of a cart and rushed to the aisle of boxed, easy-fix meals requiring only to add meat. “Eeh-eeh-eeh” could be heard all the way.
To my horror, an elegant older woman all done up vogue-style in a straight-cut dress and long, beaded shiny necklace stopped with an inquisitive expression. “How old is he?” she asked, her smile quivering.
My muscles tensed. “Ah, two.”
“I mean three, maybe,” I corrected, hoping to shut the brat up.
“My kids used to like to wear their masks way after Halloween, too,” the woman said, and leaned in closer to Bobo. “What a cutie you are.”
Although I admit her comment triggered a spark of pride, I held my breath. Sure enough, my worst fear opened in front of me. The woman’s fancy necklace dangled down as she put her face near Bobo’s, and Bobo’s gloved hand whipped right to it. He clutched with his might. The woman gasped and made gurgling sounds as I tried to pry Bobo’s grip from the shiny beads. It could’ve been the woman’s purse swinging behind her, or maybe the cart rearing around, but boxes of food fell from a shelf.
“Bobo, let go!” I demanded, and wrestled his fingers until they relaxed and he jumped into my arms. “Eeh-eeh-eeh,” he said, and then yanked the woman’s hair, apparently a wig, which he threw back at her. A heartbeat later, the Porky mask went flying, the red hood down and Bobo proceeded to practice his loudest volume.
With Bobo hugging my neck, my feet crunched through boxes of ready-to-make beef stroganoff. I hustled past ogling shoppers and out the door, “eeh-eeh-eeh” haunting my ears.
We made it to Trevor’s car with no police or store managers on our tail. I slammed Bobo into his seat, then took mine in front.
“You didn’t buy anything,” Trevor said.
“Can’t.” I let out air. “Had to get out of there, big Bobo nightmare. Would you mind, um, if I give you the money, would you go in and buy something for a few suppers? I don’t want to come back here for a while.”
He laughed. “No problem.”
“You’re a lifesaver,” I said, watching out the windshield, still expecting an angry clerk to hunt me down.
“So, what you need me to get?”
My brain went blank and I sighed. “Just buy a few boxes of macaroni and cheese.”