I shrieked in horror.
WHAT. THE. HELL. IS. THIS. ON. THE. GOD. DAMN. FLAT. SCREEN. TELEVISION. THE. GOD. DAMN. ONE. I. NEVER. HAVE. A. FREAKING. SECOND. TO. WATCH. YET. THE. ONE. THAT. TAUNTS. ME. AND. REMINDS. ME. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. THAT. I. PAID. FOR. IT. LIKE. A. TOTAL. CHUMP.
It was all over the freaking screen. It was white. It almost looked like the work of one of the graffiti artists from Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
I did my best impression of a Kung-Fu warrior, rotating my body 180 degrees within a millisecond and shouting “Whhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaa?” toward The Pip and The Chinchilla (who sat quietly awaiting my wrath).
“Whhhhhhhhaaaaaaatttttt is this? Whhhhhhoooooooooo did this?,” I bellowed.
They did their best impression of a cross between Michael Jackson and a caterpillar, moonwalking on their tummies each time I stepped close to their adorable, freckled, guilty-as-shit faces.
Five-time nominee for Best Actress in an American Household, The Pip didn’t disappoint. The oft-used sprinkler system turned on like clockwork, shooting tears at gravity-defying angles all over the living room.
“Mommmmmmmmmy I didn’t do it! I swear Mommmmmy!! You have to beeeeeeeellllliiiieeeeve meeeeeee. This isn’t faaaaaaiiiiir! I’m not responsibllllllllleeeeeee for this, Moooooommmm!”
“Did you see who did it?,” I quipped.
“Noooooooooooooooo! I didn’t even nooooooooootice it, Moommmmmmmmmm. You have to beeeeeelieeeeeeve! You have to beeeeeelieeeeeeeve!”
I Kung-Fu turned again, this time observing a rather quiet Chinchilla looking blankly at me and just shaking her head in the international symbol for “not me, no sirree” over and over and over again, like a human bobblehead.
It wasn’t long until The Hulk, a.k.a. their father, had enough of the (obvious) deception. (Let’s face it — he does get to actually watch the television, and Criminal Minds on repeat doesn’t look nearly as good with white chalky crap all over Dr. Spencer Reid’s dorky face.)
So he hulked out — like Hulks do — and demanded that the guilty party reveal themselves (before he turned bright kelly green and ripped his shirt with his hands).
And he got …. nothin’. Zippo. Zilch.
The Pip’s level of drama naturally hit unprecedented levels, and easily could have earned her a walk-on role in the remake of Beaches.
The Chinchilla continued to look like a crackhead at Wimbledon — shaking her head left to right and left to right and until she began to look queasy.
“YOU,” I pointed at The Chinchilla.
“In the mudroom with me. NOW.”
Our journey, albeit short, felt oddly akin to Dead Man Walking. I lifted her up and placed her firmly on a bench to ensure linear, full-on, super-parent-power eye contact.
“Did you do it?,” I whispered.
“Yessssssss,” she whispered back. “But I don’t remember when.”
“And the substance?,” I requested. “Chalk or white crayon?”
“Crayon,” she stated frankly. “But I don’t remember when.”
“Why didn’t you just tell me?”
“I was scared.”
“But it’s always better to tell the truth — ALWAYS.”
“I know. I try to be a good kid.”
GOOD KID. That’s all it took for me to crumble like warm Brown Betty. I was still pissed (don’t get me wrong). But her face alone is my personal Kryptonite, so her face layered with the words “good kid” left me paralyzed in gooey love. And before I knew it, I was transported to life before the legendary “white-out” discovery on the flat screen.
About a week prior, the Chinchilla’s teacher uncharacteristically e-mailed me in the middle of the school day. Her note read as follows:
Yesterday I introduced the kids to a container that I have for money that they may find on the ground or in the car, etc. When it gets somewhat full, I send the money to a local charity. Today, your daughter brought in $2.10 and said it was from her piggy bank and that she wanted to put it in the container. I thanked her and want to reward her for thinking of people less fortunate than her but I wanted to be sure that you knew she did that first. Please let me know when you get a minute.
Sure, I saw her purple fur winged piggy bank upside down on the floor that morning with money strewn across the rug … but I didn’t really have time to inquire. I loosely remember a conversation at our hurried breakfast table about the classroom jar, but didn’t have the time or attention span to connect the dots. Apparently, the $2.10 was strategically smuggled in her Phillies sweatshirt pocket and proudly rendered the very second school started that morning.
And so, my sweet-faced, curly-headed Chinch — I know you try to be a good kid.
(Just try doing it at least 7 feet from all expensive electronics).