Just Like The Carpenters
Just Asking

Core Competence

Walking from the car to the house Caroline suddenly shrieked, "Mom! Mom! Don't look!"

This - because I am human - caused me to stop in my tracks and immediately start looking all over the place

"What?" I asked.

"No. DON'T look. Just don't look. That's right. Keep moving."

I felt two small palms over my kidneys, gently but firmly pushing me toward the door. She steered me into the house and onto the couch, where she took one of my hands in hers and started patting it.

"Am I in distress?" I asked.

"No. Not yet. But. Well... ," she paused, "Dad put me in charge of the mouse traps while he's away" [Steve's gone for about a week] "and there is a... a corpse. In the garage."

Every fiber of my being wanted to laugh. My ribs creaked with it. But my role in this melodrama was obvious and it would have been cruel not to go with it.

I put my fingers to my lips.

"A... a corpse?" I faltered.

Caroline snatched my hand back and started patting it again.

"Yes," she said. "A mouse," she clarified - which, WHEW. "But don't worry. I know what to do. Dad showed me exactly how to handle it and he told me not to let you see. Because it upsets you. You know, dead things and all that blood and mushed up organs and broken bones and smashed... ."

"Yes," I said quickly. "I know."

So she brought me a glass of water and then bustled off to get... I dunno. Paper towels? Rubber gloves? A shovel? Lye? Bleach? I lay down on the couch and proceeded to look pale.

Later that night Steve called.

"You put Caroline in charge of emptying the mouse traps?" I asked.

"Of course."

"And told her not to let me see any bodies?"

"Yep."

"Because you think that our seven year old daughter is less of a delicate blossom than I am?"

"Clearly."

I thought about this for a moment. I thought about the ramifications of implied paternalism and potential marital inequalities. Then I thought about how squicky a jellified mouse can be.

"Oh. Well. Thank you," I said.      

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