Monday, November 16, 2009

Taking Turns

"Do you want to go first?" I grudgingly asked the little boy, already knowing the answer, and he leapt for the steering wheel with a precocious and startling avidity.
I smiled an apology at my niece, who was sitting on the bench behind, thumb in mouth, shoulders beginning to slump with exhaustion and an excess of MTA-themed fun.
The little boy stamped the pedals. And spun the wheel. And flicked all switches. Then he did all of the above over and over again while we row-rowed the boat and waited for him to get bored.
However, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a child in possession of something that another child wants immediately forgets their twenty-first century attention span. There is nothing so like a dog in a manager as a big boy in driver's seat with a toddler looking longingly over his shoulder. And nothing so likely to get you in the shit than moving along other people's dog-in-the-mangerish children.
"Shall we go look at something else Martha?" I asked, loud enough for driver-boy's parents to hear.
They took the hint.
"Let's go look at the trains."
"Time to get off now."
"Come on now, you've had your turn."
"Let's see what else we can find..."
He ignored them until an adult arm firmly yanked him out of the seat.
By now Barney had joined his little sister in the back seat. He nodded unenthusiastically at the idea of Martha getting a turn, and watched as she gurgled and beep-beeped away on the fraying seat.
I turned around and driver-boy was back, sitting on the bench with Barney, elbows foremost.
"Now Barney's going next, then it's your turn," I decreed.
"I'm next," Barney agreed.
At that, driver-boy whirled his fat little hands at the boy in front of him in the queue.
"Hey stop that!"
I grab the boy's fists, and his parents come back and spirit him away, flashing me a dirty look for my troubles, as if I manhandle pint-sized yobs for shits and giggles.
"He's a naughty boy," Barney said loudly.
"Yes a very silly boy," I agreed.
"Is it my turn now?"
And a weary-looking Martha got swept off to push more buttons and twirl more knobs.

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