Featuring Stan, Erik, Mama, and the kids

Before we all exited our new Chevy Traverse – mint green with black details and amazing sound system which made Elvis come alive in my head – I turned to look into the back. Four eager faces smiled at me: Mama, Noah, Pavel, and Eva.

“Okay, so, here is low down,” I said to the children, and Mama, because she tended to wander off as much as the little ones did. “Pavel, stop poking Noah and listen to Papa talk.” The boys stopped pestering each other. That would not last long so I had to speak quickly. “Now, you all must be within reach of us at all times.”

I pointed to Erik seated beside me. He was gathering up drink cups, diapers, and tiny containers of cheesy fish crackers. We packed for two hours out like single people do for a two weeks aboard.

“Yes, within reach. And hide-and-seek in a public area is not a fun game,” he huffed, cramming sweaters for the boys into the massive diaper bag one of us would carry. “Pavel, you understand, yes?”

“Yes, Da, I do no bad hide from you more again never,” the lad replied. I smiled at the boy. His English was so improving rapidly!

“Good. I give you two older children five dollars to spend,” I announced.

“Five dollars? Is that all?” Eva asked, her usually lovely voice taking on a whine that I’d not heard before we had a daughter who was this close to thirteen. It was not a particularly nice tone, but it appeared quite often. “Papa, please, I need more. The book man will be here.”

“I want more dollar too,” Pavel stated.

“Me dollars!” Noah shouted from the back. Pavel hissed at his brother to stop. Noah hit Pavel in the face with his stuffed panda. Pavel stole the bear. Noah began to wail.

“The boys cannot ride in the backseat no more side-by-side,” I told Erik who nodded wearily. “Boys! Stop now. Pavel give Noah the bear. And do not poke your little brother no more.”

“Where are the wipes?” my husband asked. “Did I not pack wipes?!”

Pavel pouted but gave Noah back his bear. Noah hit him in the head with it again. So, Pavel ripped the bear away from Noah and hit him with the bear.

“Baba gets bear,” Mama said then reached back and took the bear from Noah which made Noah cry and Pavel kick the seat and yell in Russian. “Baba keeps bear until no hits brother and if bad boys no be good boys, no time at candy man booth.”

Mama nodded when the backseat quieted.

I glanced at my mother. “Do you want more dollars as well?”

“Yes, I need hundreds for dollars to buying enough vegetables and smut for week,” Mama stated.

Erik’s head came up, curls bouncing. “For what, Mama?” he asked.

“She means glut. We work on new words. Glut is to make big eats,” I informed Erik.

“Right yes,” he sighed, then returned to digging in the purple quilted bag.

“Papa, can I please have book money?” Eva pleaded with less whine now. “I am going to school soon and am reading much for to be smart for new middle school.”

“Yes, you can have more money for books. Reading is fundamental!”

Eva smiled as she ran her fingers through her dark hair. Such a pretty young lady. If I ever see a boy look at her with anything but utter respect, I will bury him under the ice and skate over his frozen body every night. I know people. I can make this happen to disrespectful boy pigs.

“I didn’t bring the wipes. I could have sworn they were in this side pocket,” Erik grumbled, zipping the diaper bag with sass. I liked when he had his sass on.

“Dog eat wipes. Puke on Pavel’s bed,” Mama informed us as she slung her door open and left. Just like that. Off she went. Then she hurried back and rapped on Erik’s window. He pushed the button and the glass slid down.

“Give me hundreds of monies.” She held out her hand, her gray eyes darting from me to Erik. The Farmer’s Market made her itchy to shop. I think it reminded her of market days back home, with all the booths and stalls and people selling produce and organic eggs and books.

I peeled off two hundred-dollar bills, placed them in her palm, and began to instruct her to wait but she ran into the Broad Street Market building while shoving her money into her bra.

“Papa, I want to go with Baba,” Eva said then scowled when I shook my head.

“No, we go to farmer market as big family. No one goes off alone,” I reminded them.

“Baba went alone! I’m a woman now. I can go shopping without people being guarded me!” Eva huffed, pouted, crossed her arms, and threw me cold looks.

“Da, me poop,” Noah announced from the back. Pavel and Eva began screaming about the stink.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me that the dog ate the wipes?” Erik whimpered as a bad smell began to reach the front. “We could have stopped at a dozen places to buy wipes.”

“I am exhausted and we have not left car yet,” I sighed, sniffed the air, gagged, and whipped away from the curb. Mama could fend for herself for a bit. We needed wipes two days ago yesterday!


The End