Little Hoss stands in the middle of the living room. She is flanked by her two parents. Their laziness is appalling to even the most passive observer.
Her little eyes dart from side to side, from parent to parent. Each has a look of expectation on their faces, a look of desperation. How is she supposed to choose? How can they put her in this position in the first place?
They are both talking, muttering wildly. Hossdad has his hands out quickly motioning to her. Her mother, Hossmom, was almost bending down on her knee’s, arms outstretched signifying love.
But there is something more sinister to their pleas. Something that was important but was remaining unsaid. She was right, but what was it?
Little Hoss tried to comprehend the thing that was weighing down the room but she couldn’t wrap her naive little mind around it. Oh, she tried, but every time she would get close, it would slip away like slimy Jell-O pudding.
She didn’t quite yet have the experience to understand the power shifts that occur in a marriage. She couldn’t grasp what was at stake here and even if she could, she wouldn’t be able to understand it.
She gripped the TV remote tighter. She found it on the floor, next to her playhouse and Barbie shoes. They are great shoes, she likes the sound when the Velcro rips. She picked up the remote and noticed that the buttons on the front. She likes buttons. No, that is an understatement. She LOVES buttons, especially ones that make lights when you push them.
And push them she did. Every time her small, delicate fingers pushed a button, the talking b ox would change and this made her happy. Sometimes it would get louder and sometimes it would get quieter. Sometimes it would turn to the colors of her crayons and sometimes it would be all black.
She looked at Hossdad, still pleading.
“Little Hoss—bring Daddy the remote” he said softly. She liked Hossdad. He made her laugh. She looked at Hossmom.
“No, No Peanut. Bring the remote to Mommy” said Hossmom. Mommy gave the best hugs, no doubt about it.
Why did they both want this thing? She at first assumed it was because of the buttons because after all, who doesn’t love buttons? But was that the only reason?
It was not but she can’t understand that answer. She can’t understand that the decision she would make could be the difference between an hour of Oprah or an hour of Pre-season football. It was the difference between watching reruns of Sex in the City or the 1980’s cartoon Superfriends. It was the difference between setting the Tivo to the movie Beaches or setting the Tivo for late night Skinamax.
All this rested on her young shoulders. The young shoulders of a toddler who loved both her parents. They were both trying so hard, but who to listen to?
Hossmom spoke again: “If you bring Mommy the remote, mommy will let you stay up late.”
Hmm, Little Hoss thought. Hossmom had just raised the stakes. Interesting.
But Hossdad was not to be out done. “I will let you drive my car.” Hossdad went straight to the big bribes, no reason to haggle here.
Hossmom took out her wallet and threw it toward’s Little Hoss’s feet. “Picture this” she said. “You, me—Shoe store. That card right there, that’s a gold card. I’ll teach you how to use this.”
“I will buy you a pony!” Hossdad yelled. Hossdad had just dealt a blow to Hossmom.
“Your father likes to kick puppies” Hossmom said. The campaign had just turned negative. It was disappointing to see but could it have been any other way?
“Your mom is a hussy.” Hossdad countered. “Look at her, she’s pregnant. What kind of morals is that.”
“But it’s your baby! And we are married!”
“But you made it to easy! Is that the kind of person you want to associate yourself with, Little Hoss?”
Little Hoss knew she had to make a decision and make it quick. This was tearing her family apart and honestly, she was ready for bedtime and had lost all interest in the remote. She looked at both of her parents. Back and forth her eyes darted. Who?
Little Hoss made her decision and began walking towards Hossmom. She held out the remote and from the corner of her eyes she could see Hossdad’s face fall flat. His shoulder’s slumped. His Little Hoss had chosen another.
A step away from Hossmom, Little Hoss did something unexpected, at least by her parents. But to Little Hoss, this was the plan all along. As Hossmom grabbed for the remote she used her cat like reflexes to pull it back. A laugh escaped from her lips. It was maniacal.
She pulled the remote back to her body and used her short stubby legs to sprint to Hossdad, who now had tears in his eyes. His arms stretched out and Little Hoss dove into them, barely missing the last failing grasp of Hossmom.
She handed Hossdad the remote and gave him a hug. She looked up at him and thought “Daddy, I will always be your minion. How could you ever doubt me? Besides, you give me popsicles in the bathtub.”
For the next hour, they watched football together, just like they did when she was born.