I leaned across the breakfast table and smelled her hair.
“You owe me two dollars,” I said calmly.
She just stared at me, her expression slightly askew, as if her lips couldn’t decide in which direction to curl.
“… for the shampoo,” I added, looking in her direction from my peripheral vision as I poured coffee into my cup.
One half of her face decided to meet the other in a smiling grimace.
“Too much? Right?”
The fake cherry smell from the no-tears formula brand had followed me from the kids’ bathroom, down the stairs and into the kitchen. And yet, Ittybit’s hair still smelled of grit and grime.
“What I’d like to know is how is it possible for you to use an entire bottle of shampoo yet manage NOT to wash your hair?”
She shrugs her shoulders and says: "I'm sorry."
I'm Sorry is a pretty effective panacea at our place. Said with any degree of sincerity, an I'm Sorry is the universal Get Out of Jail Free card. It's akin to five minutes in the penalty box for murder via hockey stick. It's pretty much how we prefer to dust our hands of all unpleasantness.
But not this time. This is a battle I've decided to fight. This time it's serious.
“No, seriously, you owe me money.”
"I said I was sorry. I won't do it again."
Ah ... the "I-Won't-Do-It-Again" pledge.
The thing everyone says because they have a certain amount of security that the I'm Sorry card is actually a fairly equivalent substitution for the Get Out Of Jail Free card.
In fact, the only thing that seems to trump the cards she's stuffed up her sleeve is the calendar, and how quickly the numbers are careening toward Christmas, which is barreling toward my wallet at an ill-advised speed.
Slowing it down seems imperative.
The obstacles we've already encountered seem to indicate an epic crash is heading our way. We've seen grocery bills balloon, fuel prices rocket, not to mention having to bid farewell to a few hundred paper presidents we had planned to put elsewhere.
It's only money, we like to think. But the costs add up faster than a tub full of suds.
“Two. Dollars. Please.”
“Well,” she begins, “You know … I would pay you, because I've saved a lot of money -- from birthdays, chores, the tooth fairy -- but I have it hidden all over the house and it won't be that easy to find.
“Well, eh-heh. This is kind of funny, because I've been thinking of all the things we could do to SAVE money and I think once The Champ is completely out of diapers we can use more shampoo.”
She thinks I'm bluffing.
“This is not interchangeable poo. This empty bottle of shampoo is a waste of unnatural resources, and you still owe me two bucks.”
“Speaking of poo … have you smelled The Champ?”
“Don't change the subject.”
“Well he IS in need of changing.”
“I tell you what. I'll give you two dollars if you change him.”
She smiled, her nose pitched in a knowing crinkle, as she disappeared into her room. A few minutes later she returned with a wadded up Lincoln.
“You owe me three bucks.”