As I’m lying down in bed, reading a magazine, my niece storms through the door and begins tugging on my shirt.
"Uncle, come. Come now
!" she says as she continues to tug on my sleeve, not knowing that I don’t slide easily off of the bedspread. After unrolling off the bed, I follow her to whereever she's leading me.
"What is it? B. What is it?"
"Come, Uncle. Come."
We both go to the kitchen and I stop her in her tracks. I pull back on her arm as she attempts to pull me forward. I have no idea what she wants and she hasn’t said much beside “Come Uncle.”
"B, what is it that you want?" I bend down towards her.
"Run. I want to run." She begins to jog in place, on the spot.
"You want to run? But, it’s cold outside." I wrap my arms around myself and mock shiver.
"No, not outside
." She huffs and gives me attitude. "On the machine!"What machine is she talking…? Oh,
that machine. The treadmill
"The machine is broken." It's a partial truth. The treadmill can't work if it isn't plugged in and if the safety cord is missing. As a safety precaution, I had already unplugged it, and in case she plugged it back in, removed the safety cord so it wouldn't work.
…" she begins to mewl like an injured cat. I can’t stand the sound, especially when it’s amplified in the hallway.
"I’m sorry, it’s broken, B."
"Uncle, IIIII LOOOOOVE YOOOOUUUUU
." This is something I never expect her to say. She only uses that line on her parents and grandparents to get what she wants. Unfortunately, she’s dealing with Uncle Steven, and Uncle Steven doesn’t fall for cute. Whiny only pisses him off even more.
"B, I love you, too, but it’s broken." I smooth out the flyaways in her hair.
…" once again, she grabs onto my sleeve, and throws herself on the floor, in a crying heap.
Because I don’t know what else do to in this situation, I take a note from the passive-aggressive handbook which I am in the process of writing (Random House, 2009), and walk away while she continues to cry on the floor. I do this for about 30 seconds, notice that she doesn't stop, then come back into the kitchen.
"Hey, B, do you wanna watch Dora?"
"Um..." She tugs on her sleeve, wipes her runny nose with it, and nods her head.
"Good, let's watch some TV." I lead her into the living room and we both sit down in front of the television. I know it isn't the best way to stop her from impersonating a dying cat, but it's a salvation of sorts, if only until she forgets about the treadmill.
Of course, I'm praying the show is on, because if it isn't, then I'm going to have to go for a run.