Whisper 1.38

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Marigold heads off to school, and I think what a good kid she is. She’s been doing her homework like we talked about, getting plenty of sleep, taking care of her little brother, helping around the house, working out, and studying chess. All this, in addition to playing with and taking care of Zoey with all the love and attention that a true dog-lover has to give.

I watch Bobobo while he sleeps. Will he be like his sister, I wonder. I notice differences already–he spends less time playing with his rag doll and more time playing with blocks, the peg box, and the xylophone. One thing’s for sure, this boy will grow up smart.

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I laugh to think that I’ve become such a family person–such a mom! When did that happen? I’d never really set out to do this. I just followed that pull in my heart, after Dante passed over and I realized I wanted a kid. Then Bobobo! Now that sprout was a complete surprise! And here I am, old enough to be a grandma, with a teen daughter, a toddler, and the family dog. Quite domesticated, I’ve become. And what a wonder that it’s all working out so well.

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Then, that night, Marigold doesn’t come home when she said she would. She’d gone over to Gator Wolff’s after school. They’ve become friends, and she’s been tutoring him. I said she could stay for supper if she was invited, but I expected her home by curfew.

I start to worry. It’s not like her to be late, and it’s not like her not to call.

Then I hear a car pull up outside. It’s a police car, and Marigold gets out.

“What on earth?” I shout. “What happened? Why is a policewoman bringing you home?”

“I got busted,” she says.

“Busted? You are so grounded! I said be home by ten! There’s no excuse.”

“Mom! It’s not fair! I’ve already had the ignominy of riding in a cop car! Now this? This is unjust! This isn’t like you! This is just unfair!”

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I’m too worked up to listen. First the fear and worry, then the police car, then seeing that she’s OK! She’s OK. I remind myself. She’s OK. And she’s Marigold. If she says this is unfair, she’s probably right.

I put Bobobo back in his crib. I pour myself a cup of tea and sip it slowly, remembering to breathe. When I finish, I find Marigold and I ask her to tell me what happened.

“I got put in a police car, that’s what happened!” She says. “As if I were a criminal!”

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“Before that,” I say. “What led up to that? I’m not mad anymore. I just want to know what happened.”

“I went to Gator’s, just like I said,” she begins. “I did my homework, first thing! Then I did some research on my laptop. When I was done doing the research, I went to find Gator.

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“He was upstairs, playing video games in his room, so I just hung out and waited for him to finish. He kept saying, ‘Next level, next level,’ but then he’d play on.

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“I got so drowsy waiting for him that I went into the guest room to take a nap. I was too sleepy to ride home, Mom! I was sure I couldn’t ride carefully, and I know you always say to be careful. So I was just going to shut my eyes for a moment, and then wake up refreshed, and ride home.

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“Only when I woke, it was super late. I ran outside to come straight home.

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“But I ran into a cop.

“‘What are you doing out after curfew, miss?’ she said. ‘You are so busted.’

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“And then she put me in the car. I felt mortified. I knew you’d be mad. I knew it! And I knew you’d never believe me. And I didn’t do anything wrong! I just fell asleep. It sucks to be 16. I was just trying to be responsible, and not ride home when I was sleepy and couldn’t be careful, and then I get hauled off in a cop car? That’s ridiculous!”

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I think for a moment. Curfew does seem a little antiquated to me. And Marigold was trying to be responsible. I do always tell her to be sure that she’s alert when she rides her bike. It’s not like she was out drinking or doing anything that was actually against the law or harmful. She actually did what was right and just happened to get caught by a silly law.

She used her best judgment and it backfired.

“I’m not happy with the way this turned out,” I say. “Sometimes, we have to think three or four levels deep. Yes, I want you to do what you think is right and best, always, and I always want you to be careful and safe. And sometimes, you have to think your choices all the way through to look at all the consequences.”

“And if I can’t see all the consequences?”

“Then you do your best.”

“Like I did.”

“Right.”

“So am I still grounded?”

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“No. And I’m sorry I didn’t give you a chance to talk first.”

“That’s OK,” she says. “I’m sure you were just doing what you thought was right at the time.”

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