Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Like Father, Like Bean

Today was Kim's night out, for which she departed earlier than usual with the injunction to, "Make sure Skylar gets some exercise." I imagined the two of us riding bikes down to the slummier parts of our subdivision, the "lowlands" of Faith Dawn. Skylar, however, wanted to ride her scooter. I still had to supervise, so I brought my novel out to the front yard while she made her way up down the sidewalk.

As often happens with Skylar, she was periodically distracted in the course of her exertions. First it was hearing her friends Travis and Kaylee hollering inside their house. Then it was Nana coming outside to run an errand. The best, though, was when, after several trips up our driveway into the garage, she went inside the house to, "get some water," then came out with that expression that means she's up to something.

"What are you doing, Sky?" She paused, looked away. "Nothing." I went back to my book as she scooted off towards her grandparents' house. The next thing I knew, she was heading back up our driveway, parking her scooter, and running into the house again. I stopped her on the return trip.

"Dad, can I go search through Nana and Papa's recycling too?" I gave her the look. "I told you I was going inside to get water, but really I was taking things that could still be useful back inside the house." I conjured up the voice of authority. "You can only get glass bottles. No plastic." Luckily, Skylar was soon distracted by Nana's return from the store, though not before bringing back a Lipton tea bottle and the cap to a container of laundry detergent, which she described as, "really interesting, even though it is plastic."

Later, when we went in her room for a "retro night" telling of a Roger Rabbit story -- we stopped doing those regularly over a year ago -- I noticed that Skylar had propped up several Oriental Trading Company catalogues and one from Lego next to her treasured porcelain dolls. In front of them lay an empty Barbie box. These were the items she had deemed worthy of redemption. I suppressed a laugh of ironic recognition. Every time I consign that sort of thing to the plastic bins I wonder whether Skylar might still want them. It takes a real effort of will to let go. Now, though, the part of me that resists discarding on principle will be even harder to stomp down. The next time I ask Kim whether to recycle what I consider a potentially helpful cardboard box, I'll remind her of this evening. And she will groan in a mock torment that is all too sincere at bottom.

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