Vinnie walks into the kitchen. Dexter trails close to his heels. Vinnie picks up Dexter’s food dish and carries it to the pantry. Dexter runs in front of him and barks at the pantry door. Dexter believes the space behind the door holds an infinite supply of food. Dexter has a reoccurring dream of being locked in the pantry with its endless supply of food.
Vinnie rubs Dexter’s ears. He says in a cheerful voice, “You’re such a dumb dog, Dexter.” Dexter wags his tail. Vinnie laughs.
Dexter’s tail looks like a metronome beating out 16th notes. He barks again and steps back away from the door.
Vinnie steps into the pantry, knocks over the large bag of dog food, kicks the loose dog food out of the way and out of sight. He fills Dexter’s bowl leaving a mountain peak on top. He closes the door to the pantry and whispers to Dexter, “Don’t tell Mom. I’m doubling your helping. I’m hoping Santa will see how generous I am with you.”
Dexter barks whether in agreement or in anticipation of eating, only Dexter knows. Vinnie carries the overfilled bowl to a corner in the kitchen. He sets the bowl down, spilling a quarter of its contents. No problem, Dexter is on it and any evidence of a spill is gone within ten seconds.
Vinnie fills Dexter’s water bowl with fresh water and sets it down next to the nearly empty food bowl. He calls out to his Mom, “My chores are all done, Mom. I fed Dexter and changed his water. Want to hear what happened to me at school today?”
Vinnie’s Mom rises out of the sleeping baby poise on the yoga mat in the living room. She says, “I only have the downward dog to do and I’ll be right there. Don’t leave. I want to hear all about it.”
“Okay, Mom. I’m going to make out a list of the things I want Santa to bring me. It will take me a while. You can watch your program,” Vinnie says, getting a notepad and pen off the cabinet.
His mom says, “I think Santa already knows what you want. He’s pretty smart, you know.”
Vinnie, busy writing, says, “I think the blood is rushing to your head in the downward dog poise, Mom. Santa’s smart, but he can’t read my mind.”
The soft spoken women on the YouTube yoga video, stops speaking and Vinnie knows his mom turned the TV off. His mom walks into the kitchen. She sits down at the table next to Vinnie and says, “Let me see what you put on your list?”
Vinnie quickly turns the notebook over, “This is between Santa and me, Mom. If Santa brings these things to me, you have to let me have them.”
Vinnie’s mom stares at him for a long moment, “If you’re asking Santa for a large drone so you can spy on Mrs. Navis at her home, forget it.”
“Awe gee, Mom. Why can’t I have a big drone? All the kids are getting a big drone this year. It’s the in present. You don’t want me left out, do you? Anyway, how did you know I wanted a big drone? Wait a minute, did Rupert tell you?”
Vinnie’s mom wonders whether she should tell him she overheard him talking to Joey about it last Sunday. She says, “I’m not saying where I heard it. I asked Rupert and he said he promised you he’d keep it a secret. He didn’t tell me.”
“Phew,” says Vinnie wiping a hand across his brow. “I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t trust Rupert with my secrets.
“Instead of a drone, can I have a body cam to wear to school so you can see how mean Mrs. Navis is to me?”
“Is that on your list to Santa?” asks his Mom.
“No, but I’m trying to think out of the box like you and dad always tell each other,” says Vinnie.
“Let’s forget about Christmas presents and your list to give Santa. Tell me the exciting news about school. Then I’ll tell you the exciting news I have for you,” says Vinnie’s mother.
Vinnie looks at the apple slices covered with peanut butter that sit on a plate in front of him. He glances up at his mother, “Mom, why can’t I have chips, or cookies, or brownies like all the other kids when they come home?”
“Because this is a healthy snack. I don’t care what other children eat. I only care what you eat,” says his mom.
“Okay. Thanks for watching out for me, Mom,” Vinnie feels pleased with himself for sucking up to his Mom. Rupert told him it was the perfect strategy before Christmas.
“Thank you, Vinnie. Now about school,” she asks.
Vinnie finishes off an apple and peanut butter slice, then he says, “Mrs. Navis told me she was very proud of me today. She never told me that before.”
“That’s really nice, Vinnie. Did she tell you why she was proud of you?” asks his Mom.
“Probably because I’m really trying hard,” says Vinnie. Vinnie realizes if he told his mom the real reason was because he didn’t get put in time out for the first time in two weeks his Mom may get upset since she knew nothing about his being put in time out for ten straight days.
“She must have had a reason,” says his Mom.
Vinnie, eager to change the subject, says, “What’s your big news, Mom?”
Vinnie’s Mom smiles at him and says, “You’re going to love this. Remember last year when you were in the living nativity scene at church? Well, you get to be in it again this year.”
“I don’t want to be in it, Mom. I was a dumb sheep last year. Do you know how stupid I felt in the sheep’s costume? Very stupid. Sorry, Mom. I’m busy,” says Vinnie picking up another piece of apple.
“You’re in it, Vincent. No more arguments about it,” says his mom.
“I protest. I am not going to be a sheep. I’ll be Joseph,” says Vinnie.
“You’ll be whatever Sister Janet says you will be,” says his Mom.
“If you make me do it. I’m going to tell Santa on you and Dad and you’ll see. Santa won’t bring you any presents,” says Vinnie.
“Vincent!” says his Mom.