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Exercise in Reading Between the Lines

“You can go back to bed.”

“That’s okay. I’m not tired.”

Both of the women looked at the little girl on the couch as they spoke instead of to each other.

“Tell your mother to go back to bed and leave you and me alone to play.”

The younger woman sighed, but didn’t move an inch.

“Well, as long as you are going to stay up I’m going to change clothes. Then you and I are going to play together and your mother can go do whatever it is she plans to do so early in the morning. But you and I are going to play.”

The little girl stared blankly at the dark television screen without answering her grandmother. After a few minutes the grandmother returned in her house capris and a shirt shewas given as a gift in 1979. The pin-up girl screen print stretched more than it should over her breasts that had grown with each child she bore instead of shrinking. She grunted in annoyance, perhaps dissillusionment, at the little girl who was still in the same place on the couch, but now with a plastic bowl of dry cereal along with a plastic sippy cup of milk. Brightly colored cartoons danced along the television screen, captivating the girl’s attnention. She laughed at the chracters as her grandmother sat next to her, but ignored the questions that she asked her and the request for a good morning kiss. The mother now sat at the table writing in her journal, pretending not to notice the scene at the other side of the room.

“Come here, Bonnie, and you can help me make pancakes. That is if I can find everything I need,” she said, looking in the younger woman’s direction.

The mother sighed as she got up from her desk and silently walked into the kitchen, but the grandmother didn’t follow. After getting out all the ingredients needed for pancakes she returned to the living room.

“Oh, your mother is done in the kitchen. Come on, Bonnie. Let’s go! I’ll turn on cartoons for you in the kitchen and we can have our own time together.”

The grandmother smiled with satisfaction as the girl’s eye widened with delight and her little body wiggled off the couch with energy. The grandmother also stood up and started in the direction of the kitchen, but turned when she saw that her granddaughter had not gotten up to join her, but to get the brightly colored ball she had spotted under the table. And now she was asking her mother to throw it for her.

“Leave your mother alone and come with me.”

The little girl climbed onto her mother’s lap and looked at her grandmother with innocent eyes. Suddenly she removed her pacifier and squealed with delight.

“What is dis?” she asked, pointing to the pin up girl.

“You like it? Isn’t she pretty? Look how it sparkles. Come, come. Come with me.”

The girl squealed again as she threw the ball, clapping for herself as she watched it roll away.

“Do you want the ball? Bonnie? Do you want the ball? Come here and I’ll throw it to you.”

With the help of her mother pushing her off of her lap Bonnie finally climbed down and ran towards to grandmother.

“See? She wants to be with me. You want to be with me, don’t you. You’re always with your mom so today it is my day. Yes. Come on now. Get the ball. There it goes! Into the kitchen. Look! Cartoons! Look, Bonnie!”

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