‘Brooke, what did you do with Ms A today?’ I ask. We are sitting together on the stairs. Katie is upstairs getting ready for bed and Luau is fumbling through papers in the office.
“Other than play. I can’t say played.”
No matter what the question – ‘what did you do at school today?’ ‘what was your favorite part of the party?’ ‘what happened on your playdate?’ the answer is a well rehearsed, mostly grammatically appropriate version of ‘I played.’ We’re working our way out of the narrow cubby-holes of scripted language.
“Right, honey. Other than played.”
“We went BACK to the museum.”
‘You did?? That sounds like fun!’
“Nope,” says Luau from the office.
“No to the museum?” I ask.
Marital shorthand – it works.
“No museum,” he responds.
Damn it. It sounded so plausible.
“Brooke, honey, what did you REALLY do with Ms A today?” The problem is that I don’t know the answer. Questions around these parts are generally useless unless I already know the answer. Yeah, chew on that for a while.
“Did you go the pool?”
“Oh yeah, I did. And I went under the water like this.” She puffs out her cheeks as though holding her breath.
“Oh wow! I’ll bet that was a LOT of fun. Did you show Ms A how you can jump off the diving board now?”
“No pool,” drifts in from the office.
Damn, damn damn.
“Hey, Luau, help me out, would ya?” I ask as he wanders over to the steps. I’m obviously flailing. “What did they do today?”
He gives me a rundown. Mostly, they just played outside in the yard.
“Did you have fun with Ms A today, Brooke?”
“Oh yeah. I did.”
I’ll take it.
Over the summer, Brooke had worked her way up to telling us one thing that she had done each day. With more prompting, she would even add small details – who she’d done it with or what her favorite part of the activity had been. It was heaven.
She has been out of camp for two weeks. Two stinkin weeks. Scripts are back in force. Anxiety is up. And when I try to ask what she did during the day, she tells me anything that she can think of to make me stop asking questions.