For The Monkey

On the way to the doctor’s office

“We should get a cat.” She says from the backseat. It is a desire not altogether unexpected, given the program on pets that she had been viewing just before we left the house. She concludes, “While Daddy is at work.”

“But where would it live when Daddy came home?” I ask, “If it was at our house Daddy would sneeze and sneeze. Ah-Choo!”

She looks sad, “Oh.”

There is a long pause and she gazes out the window. I wonder what she is thinking about so hard and wish, again, that we could get her a pet. It would help so much.

“We should go to the store!” She announces from the backseat.

There is so much enthusiasm in the pronouncement that, though I cannot fathom what she might want, I ask, “What should we get at the store?”

“A monkey!” She proclaims.

“Oh?” I say, in that strangled voice reserved for parents the world over who have learned that laughing in such situations will stop the flow of the conversation that will follow.

She nods, “We need a monkey, Mommy.”

I picture a monkey added to our already chaotic, impossible life. I try not to cringe. “I see.” I say, “What would you name a monkey if we got one?”

She smiles at me with a glee that I hope stems from the fact that I’m playing along rather than the conviction that we will acquire another primative primate, “Jo-Jo!”

“And what would he eat?”

She looks at me like I’m dumb. “Bananas, of course.”

“Of course.” I laugh, “What else might he eat?”

She laughs, “More bananas!”

“Where would he sleep?” I’m determined to stump her with the practical impossibility of this monkey, but I can feel the situation slipping rapidly through my fingers.

She tips her head sideways and looks thoughtful. After a long, considerate pause, she replies, “On the fan.”

“Over the dining table?” I ask, sounding strangled again.

“Yes.” She confirms, then asks, “But what would happen if we turned on the fan?”

We both begin to laugh. I’m mentally watching a small Rhesus Monkey, named Jo-Jo, careening in lazy circle above my dining table, to the tune of what would rapidly become a screeching monkey and a frantic little girl. I am mentally watching myself lose the last of my carefully hoarded marbles.

She pauses a moment, “What if he came in the car with us? Where would he sit?”

“I don’t know, Baby. Where do you think he’d sit?”

“He could sit on the back of my carseat.” She grins.

“Hmm.” I agree. “He could. He would sit there and run his fingers through your hair and look for bugs.”

She looks aghast. “Monkeys eat bugs?”

“Yep.” I say.

“My hair doesn’t have bugs!” She realizes sounding offended.

“No. It doesn’t.” I frown playfully, “He might be disappointed. We would have to add some.”

“Like spiders?” She asks hopefully.

“You want spiders in your hair?” I ask, appalled.

“For my monkey.” She says, in a tone of voice that points out that I’m being obtuse and skillfully closes the conversation.

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