Vinnie Discovers the Truth About Santa

9

5 o’clock Tuesday morning, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, except for Vinnie, Dexter, and Rupert. Vinnie tosses off the covers, they land on Dexter who is sleeping on Vinnie’s bed. Dexter looks like a mole trying to find a way of out of an underground maze. Vinnie jumps off the bed, snatches Rupert, and pulls up his jammy bottoms. He glances back at his bed and suppresses a laugh when he sees Dexter worming his way through the covers. He frees Dexter. Dexter jumps off the bed anticipating an early breakfast before the real breakfast.

Vinnie holds Rupert out in front of him. He says, “Rupert, today’s the day I am going to see Santa. I want to make sure we’re not late.” 

Vinnie turns back toward Dexter, “Too bad you can’t come with us, Dexter. I’ll put in a good word for you. Santa loves all animals.”

Dexter smiles, wags his tail, and translates Vinnie’s words to say, “Dexter, I’m going to give you all the left over pizza.” Some things are lost in translation.

Vinnie opens his bedroom door and walks into the hallway connecting the guest bedroom, the guest bathroom, his bedroom, and his mom and dad’s bedroom. He opens the guest bedroom and walks in the room. Dexter follows. Vinnie closes the door and flicks on the light. He turns his head toward Rupert, “Linda said parents hide the presents in the guest bedroom. Dexter, you check under the bed. Me and Rupert will check the closet.”

Two minutes later Vinnie emerges from the closet. Dexter is lying on the floor waiting for something to happen. Vinnie says, “Linda’s in big trouble when I tell Santa she doesn’t believe in him. I’m going to tell him to give her worms or beetles. There are no presents in the guest bedroom, Rupert. There really is a Santa. This proves it. Let’s go wake up Mom and Dad. I don’t want them to oversleep today. It’s only a few more days until Christmas. I’ve got to see Santa or Christmas will be ruined.”

Dexter becomes disoriented when Vinnie opens his parents bedroom door instead of heading to the kitchen. He barks to signal Vinnie he’s taken the wrong turn. Vinnie flicks the switch to the overhead light and hollers, “Wake up Mom. Time to get up, Dad.”

Vinnie’s mom sits up, a startled look on her face, “What’s wrong, Vinnie? Did you have a nightmare?”

Vinnie’s dad reaches over to the end table and grabs hold of his iPhone and checks the time, “It’s five oh four. What are you doing out of bed?”

“We’ve got to get up and get ready to see Santa. You know how long it takes you to get ready to go shopping, Mom. As for Dad, he’ll start working on his laptop and we’ll have to pull it away from him. Come on, Dad. Do you want Dexter to lick your face?”

“Make him go back to bed,” Vinnie’s dad begs.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to get up. Rupert and me will make breakfast. I’ll call you when it’s ready. That way you can get a little more sleep.”

Dexter’s thinking, did Vinnie mention breakfast? Dexter barks twice.

Before Vinnie’s mom can speak, Vinnie, Rupert, and Dexter are out of the bedroom and on their way to the kitchen. 

Vinnie holds Rupert in front of him. He says, “What are we going to make for breakfast, Rupert?”

Vinnie uses his special fake voice for Rupert. Rupert answers in a high pitch squeaky voice, “Let’s make pop tarts and cover them with peanut butter. We can stick Fruit Loops on the peanut butter.”

“Great idea, Rupert. When you grow up, you might be a famous chef.”

Dexter barks. Vinnie glances at Dexter. He says, “I forgot all about you, Dexter. I’ll give you a special breakfast and microwave the sausages Dad loves to eat when he doesn’t work. He won’t mind because he’s too excited about going to see Santa.”

In the bedroom, Vinnie’s mom says, “Dear, do you think it’s safe to let Vinnie alone in kitchen?”

Vinnie’s dad pulls the pillow off of his head and says, “What could go wrong?”

Vinnie’s World ~ Vinnie’s Running a Con on His Mom

2

Mom thinks I’m doing my math and spelling homework. I’m really good at math. I don’t have to study because it comes easy to me. I usually listen to Mrs. Navis, except today, I didn’t listen to her, because she was boring and I was drawing animal faces and putting names of the kids in my class over them. Did you know, Bob’s head looks like the head of a painted turtle? When Maya looks at me, all I can think of is a guppie. I’m stuck with Mrs. Navis. I can’t decide if she resembles a vulture or an osprey. I really got into my drawing and before I knew it, Mrs. Navis was teaching a new unit. I don’t think it’s my fault. I sit in the middle of the row closest to the windows. It is too nice a day to be in school. My mind wandered all day. 

When I wasn’t drawing, I imagined I was riding my my bike, or doing some jumps on my skateboard. One time, I imagined I scored the winning basket with no time left on the clock. I know Mom is going to check my homework when she’s finished  her yoga program. I have the perfect plan to get my homework done right. I’m going to use Mom’s iPhone calculator app. When we’re home, Mom leaves her iPhone the kitchen counter in the kitchen. 

I walk over to the living room door and peek in. I say, “How’s it going, Mom. I’m studying really hard.”

“I have about fifteen minutes, Vinnie. I’m proud of you,” says Mom doing a stretch a 

At the moment she’s on her yoga mat on the living room floor watching some YouTube video about yoga. I go to the counter and take her iPhone. I tap in her super secret passcode 0 9 2 7. Some secret, it’s her birthday. Within seconds I have her calculator app open. One minute and twenty seconds later all ten of my math problems are correct. I’m sure this won’t backfire on me. What could go wrong? 

Spelling words, that’s a bit of a problem for me. I don’t believe in spelling. Think about it. My tablet spell corrects. The computer spell corrects. This week Mrs. Navis gave us compound words. Check out her list. Butterfly, footprint, goldfish, ladybug, mailbox, raincoat, and snowman. Where did she get this list? How many times in your life do you have to spell ladybug? Case closed. 

Oh, oh. Mom calls out, “I’m on my last stretch, Vinnie. Your math better be done and right. I’ll ask you your spelling words. Mrs. Navis put it on the 3rd grade website. I already have the list written down.”

Why do adults gang up on kids? I can’t believe Mrs. Navis doesn’t trust my friends and me to tell our moms we have homework. Honesty is every third grader’s policy. 

Here comes Mom, she’s carrying a piece of white paper. I’ll bet my dollar a week allowance it’s the spelling words. Yikes, I didn’t put her iPhone back on the counter. I can handle it. Mom takes a seat at the table. Dexter is under my feet hoping for food. 

Mom says, “I’ll see if you’ve been studying or playing around. Spell goldfish.”

“That’s not fair, Mom. I learned them in order,” I answer.

“Goldfish,” Mom repeats. She doesn’t even enter into an argument with me.

I say the word like they do on the spelling bee’s on TV. I’d never watch them. Mom and Dad make me sit and watch these kids who have no life spell words they’ll use again in their lives. I said, “Goldfish.”

“Well?” said Mom.

“G O A L F I S H. Goalfish.”

“You didn’t study. Vincent, you can’t spell the first word I asked you.”

“You said, “Goalfish.”

“I did not. I said, goldfish,” Mom made sure of her pronunciation. I love tweaking her. Everybody with a half brain can spell the word.

I said, “Oh. G O L D F I S H.”

“That’s better, Vincent. Let’s try ladybug.”

“L A D D Y B U G.”

“Try again, Vincent.”

“L A D Y B A G.”

“Vincent, did you study on fool around?” Mom demanded to know.

What’s a eight year to do when confronted by a multiple choice question from his mom? If I say I studied, she won’t believe me. If I say, I fooled around she’ll take away tablet privileges for the night. Parents don’t realize how difficult they make it. Just once, I’d like to trade places with them and see how they like it. As dad likes to say, “Vinnie, I was born on the weekend, but not last weekend.” I was thinking of saying this to mom, but thought better of it. Instead, I answered, “Mom, ladybug was the one word that was giving me a problem. I wanted you to help me with it, but I didn’t want to disturb you while you did yoga.”

Mom looked at me with the eyes only a mother has. She said, “Vinnie, you are more important to me than my yoga. Of course you can interrupt me.”

I said, “I’ll remember that next time. Will you help me learn how to spell ladybug?” 

I was buying time. Dad should be home any moment and Mom will get up, greet him at the door, give him a mushy kiss, and carry his backpack to their room.

Mom said, “Vinnie, Ladybug can be broken into two easy words, lady and bug. You know both of these words.”

I felt like saying, “Mom, do you think you are talking to a third grader?” Then I realized she was talking to a third grader. 

“You make it sound so simple, Mom. Let me try, lady L A D Y. Bug, B U G.”

“Your list has all compound words. You know what a compound word is, right?”

Not really. Mrs. Navis mentioned it. I was too busy passing notes back and forth with Ellen to get much out of it. I said, “Of course, Mom. Mrs. Navis taught us all about compound words in school.”

“Here’s another one for you, Vinnie. Footprint. Remember what I taught you about breaking the word into two words,” said Mom.

I needed to stall. Dad should have been home by now. I said, “Do you have a cold beer ready for dad. That always makes him happy when you have one ready for him. Did I hear a text come in on your phone?” As soon as I said it, I regretted it. She didn’t mention the phone not being on the counter. Bad move.

Mom looked to the counter, then to the table, then to me, “Did you move my phone?”

“Me? Why would I do that?” I asked.

“I always leave in the same spot on the counter, Vincent.”

She switched from Vinnie back to Vincent. This is not good. I said, “Mom, why would I want your iPhone? It’s password protected and you don’t share your password with anyone.”

“That’s true, Vinnie. I’m sorry I accused you of moving it. My mind was on several things,” said mom apologetically.

“That’s okay, Mom. I am so hungry. Can I get an apple before we continue?” 

Mom checked her iWatch. “Dad’s running late. Maybe I’ll text him.”

“Good idea,” I called as I stood in front of an open refrigerator.Vin