The Age of Sneak

Magic Marker

I had an interesting experience with Vivian last night.

We were playing in grandma Romee’s living room. This was one of Vivian’s games that seemed to be partly hide and seek, partly daddy monkey bars, and we were generally enjoying ourselves. In playing hide and seek, Vivian employs an interesting strategy. She will tuck herself away and say “don’t look at me. Don’t look at me.”

Now, she used to say these words for other reasons having to do with potty training. I very quickly learned that when Vivian said this, I had to ask her, quickly, if she had to go to the bathroom to take a poop. Invariably, I was too late. But recently, this technique has broadened and encompassed some more fun things.

So, when Vivian tucked herself away and said “don’t look at me. Don’t look at me,” I asked first if she needed to go to the bathroom. “No,” she replied. “Don’t look at me.”

So I didn’t. Until I heard the squeak of a magic marker.

“Vivian? What are you doing?” I asked.

“Don’t look at me!” (squeak! squeak!)

So I immediately sat up, and then stood up, looking for Vivian. “Don’t look at me!” she protests. And as I sidle over, she immediately casts herself to the floor and tucks her head in. She knows she’s in trouble.

And, sure enough, Grandma Romee’s antique white marble tabletop is covered in magic marker streaks.

I kept my cool. “Erin,” I called. “I think you’d better come see this.”

It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The marker ink wasn’t permanent, and easily wiped off using wet wipes. This included marks on a nearby vase, and on the wall. And, of course, we made Vivian do most of the work in cleaning.

But I still can’t fathom what Vivian was thinking, here. Her mouse-like explanation for what she did was “I didn’t have any paper”. But she knew, she knew that what she was doing was going to land her into trouble. And she did it anyway.

Similarly, Erin noticed that Vivian had gotten awfully quiet at one point, and was hiding beneath a blanket in her room. And as Erin listened carefully, she heard the distinctive sounds of Vivian unwrapping a lolly-pop that she wasn’t supposed to have.

“Vivian,” she asked. “What are you doing?”

Pause. “Nothin’.”

Erin didn’t have the heart to challenge her, so she let it ride, and we got to quiz her on her explanation for why her lips had turned blue when she came down to the kitchen afterwards.

I guess my parents warned me that there would be days like these.

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