Lark and Chloe are trying to redeem themselves. They want back into my good graces. After all, I’m the provider of their food and shelter.
This morning, I woke to find the kitchen afloat in Valentine’s Day hearts hanging from ribbons taped to the ceiling, and every spot that could have a red heart pasted to it had one: each cabinet door, each of our places at the table, each and every box of breakfast cereal. I half expect that two months from now, I’ll discover hearts on the canned goods in the basement.
What they wrote in their valentines was gushing sentiments over how wonderful I am. It was a sweet gesture. I’ll give them that.
I told the girls that their Valentine’s Day presents from me were in my car. They’d need to come outside with me to get them, and oh, by the way, they should put on their coats because it’s so cold out.
They climbed in the backseat and picked up the boxes of chocolates and store-bought cards I had for them. I closed the doors behind them. I’d taken the precaution of setting the locks on the child-safe setting, which meant that they couldn’t open the doors and jump back out.
I screeched out of the driveway and announced that I was taking them to school. They said remarkably little. I’d successfully caught them off guard. When we arrived, the girls didn’t pitch fits or run away. I held Chloe’s hand, and Lark walked a few steps behind me.
I asked at the front office for the room numbers of each of their first period classrooms, and I walked them there myself. With my own eyes, I saw them take their seats.
Now it’s early afternoon as I’m writing you. I’m at work. I have no idea what’s happened since then. The girls may well have found a way to escape school. Or perhaps they have even run away from home.
What I’m hoping , of course, is that I’ve had a small victory. It was the first time I’ve openly expressed an opinion on the matter, and I chose to do so with action. You only get the element of surprise once.
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.