Her little face was shiny with the soon to be confiscated lip balm. She didn’t remove her eyes from the yellow orb and lifted it slowly and deliberately to her mouth. “No, Tedda,” I say. She lowers her lids and then looks up at me, seriously and calmly. She holds her prize delicately between her fingers like a nugget of gold. She touches the balm to her cheek instead for a brief moment, asking with her eyes whether this is the appropriate way to use this magically wonderful prohibited goodness. She wants to know. Better on the face than ingested. I nod my head for approval. She stands very carefully smearing her already luminous cheeks with more lip balm. “Good job, Tedda. Good job,” I say.
We never get a chance to sit, so we do. We’re tired and it feels luxurious to sit facing each other in our own family room. The couch feels like a blanket to sink into like a hug. Like a spa. “She’s eating it,” I say. “Tedda, stop,” he says. She holds the yellow ball in front of her mouth, and looks at us. I can’t see what she’s doing now. “Is she eating it?” I ask. “Tedda, give it to daddy,” he says with an extra nice voice. He stands over her in a friendly a manner as possible positioning himself to take it from her. Gus swoops in from behind and takes the offending piece of CVS loot. I feel secretly vindicated. “Got it!” he cheers and skips over to me with it, dropping it in my hands. I quickly slide it under my leg as Tedda takes a huge gulp of breath in order to maximize the impact of her indignant wail.
I admire the birds on the wall before me. They hang over Karl’s head. The paint color should match the background color in one of the smaller insets. But, I won’t say anything about that. “When will your thing be over then?” I ask. Tedda is over by Karl trying to grab Gus’ cup from him, still sore about the lip balm, intent to not give him a moment’s rest for his nimble betrayal. They’re both protesting loudly pulling on the cup. Gus wins and walks away to more peaceful environs. Tedda plops herself down on the floor to really cry it out. I throw Karl the lip balm. “Just give it to her.”
Karl holds the precious object out to her. A peace offering. She stops crying immediately upon the proffer and stands herself up. She walks a bit unsteadily over to him smiling through the big fat tears still rolling down her face. Tears like that can’t be controlled. She places her small hand daintily on his knee and with the other delicately takes the tiny valuable from him, not taking her eyes from his, smiling as hard as she can. The victory is both of ours, she suggests with her smile. She holds no grudges, she says with her eyes. She turns around to me with kisses fluttering off her lashes. The lip balm makes her so happy. Who are we to stand in her way?