Vinnie’s mom extends her arm and points toward the hallway leading to the bedrooms, “Go and don’t come out until you get up in the morning. Try to think of a different science project. You cannot use Dexter or any other animal.”
“Mom? Can I color in Dexter’s blonde spots with a black magic marker? I’ll need more turkey to make Dexter sit still.”
“Vincent, do not do anything else to Dexter’s fur. Do not experiment on him. Make sure you brush and floss your teeth. Then shower. Use soap. No getting wet and running out of the shower.”
“Why do I have to shower every night, Mom. Joey doesn’t shower. He takes a bath on Saturdays. He gets to stay up until ten. He doesn’t have to do his homework until he gets up in the morning. You know what Joey told me when I told him what I have to do every day?”
“What, Vincent?” says Vinnie’s mom, her hands now on her hips.
“Will you get mad?”
“No, Vincent, I will not get mad. You are stalling. I know what you are doing. You are trying to stay up late and it’s not going to work.”
“Joey said it sounds like I’m in jail because I have so many rules to follow. Joey doesn’t have any rules.”
“Vincent, how many times have I told you I am not Joey’s mom. I don’t care how Joey’s mom raises him. I am your mother.”
“I know you’re my mother, Mom. You told me about a zillion times. Can I get a snack to take in the bedroom?”
“No, brush your teeth, shower, and off to bed. I will be in to tuck you in after you shower. Then, dad will come in and tell you a story.”
“Mom! Mom! Mom!”
“Dear Jesus, what is it Vinnie?”
“You just gave me another idea for my science project. This one is the best one yet.”
“What is it, Vinnie. I hope it is not a silly idea. You cannot use Dexter or Rupert in your science project. Can you do something like the other kids in your class. You can grow plants, you can see what melts faster ice cream or frozen milk, you can measure if clothes dry faster with dryer sheets than without. These are all great ideas. I was looking them up online.”
“Mom, I can think of something better. Tell Dad I want to hear the next adventure of Power Pete. Dad should quit his lawyer job and write books about Power Pete. I’d read them.”
Vinnie’s mom stoops down to one knee. She motions Vinnie to come to her. She puts her hands on his shoulders. “I know you are trying so hard to come up with the best project ever, Vinnie. Can I make a suggestion to you?”
“Instead of thinking of a project, think of a a question you want to answer. When you have a good question, your science project will be to answer the question. Does this make sense?”
“Wow, Mom. You’re a genius. You’re smarter than Dexter, but not as smart as Rupert. I already have a question.”
“Thank you for the compliment, Vinnie. Maybe one day I’ll be smarter than Rupert.”
“I don’t think so, Mom. He reads all day while I’m at school. Here’s my question, Why is Mrs. Navis so mean? It’s perfect, right, Mom.”
Vinnie looks at his mom who is giving him a look, he says, “I need to come up with a different question, right, Mom?”
“Yes, Vinnie. Now, brush, floss, shower, and tell me when you’re finished,” Vinnie’s mom gives Vinnie a hug and kiss on the top of his head.
Vinnie turns and heads toward the bathroom. Dexter heads toward the kitchen. Even a beagle knows there is no food where Vinnie is going.
Vinnie’s brushing his teeth he runs out the bathroom, his mouth foaming with toothpaste. Dexter leaves the kitchen on a full run heading toward Vinnie. Whatever Vinnie is mumbling, it must be about food. This is the way Dexter thinks.
Vinnie stops at the edge of the living room. Two things happen simultaneously when Vinnie stops. He starts speaking and while he speaks toothpaste foam sprays on everything with five feet of his voice.
“Mom, I got a terrific question for my science project. Want to . . .”
“Vincent. Stop talking. Your getting toothpaste over the rug. OMG, I’m going to have to clean this before it stains.”
“Can I time you, Mom. It could be my science project.”