It was a tense moment – we were negotiating the terms, sitting face to face in a booth for two at White Castle’s on Queens Boulevard and 43rd Street. The morning crowd came mostly through the “Drive-Thru”, leaving the dining area private for Isamu and I.
I leaned in and said, “We will get you your own sippy cup – ”
“A McQueen sippy cup,” he interrupted.
“Okay. A McQueen sippy cup.”
“And Chick Hicks, too.”
“Wha? Chick Hicks, too? What for!” I had to check myself because getting me riled up is exactly what Samu wanted. “Okay,” I sigh, “why do you need a Chick Hicks cup for?”
“McQueen cup for Samu’s house, Chick Hick’s for Grammy’s house and Doc Hudson for Baba’s house.” He takes a bite of his hash brown and sits back – smug, wiping his hands on his shirt across his chest. I see the grease marks he’s leaving but say nothing, for now.
I calculated his terms. It’s at least ten dollars more than I want to spend because Disney likes to rape us parents through our wallets for the sake of our children. “Alright,” I agree, “but,” I wag my finger, “you must put the empty cup in the sink if you want use it again.”
He chews deliberately, thinking it over – it’s a lot of responsibility for a busy three-year-old. Suddenly, he’s up on his knees pointing out the window, “Look mommy! It’s going to Flushing!” I look up to see a number 7 train bustling to 46th Street. I guess it means we have a deal.
Then again, I sensed somewhere in the back of his mind he was scheming. I could see the wheels turning, planning to go behind my back. I knew he was counting on one of his grandmothers to stash a baby bottle for him – he could be so manipulative. In my experience, I’ve dealt with Russians, Koreans, One Police Plaza and Club Med and none of them compared to this little guy in front of me. I could never tell what he was up to or how much it was going to cost me.
In truth, I felt a little guilty for taking away the only option that satisfies his oral fixation. After all, his big brother gets to suck his stinky, soggy thumb so why shouldn’t Samu get to keep his bottle? Just then, he picked up one of my little containers of half n’ half – I was saving it for my coffee refill. He opened it and drank it like a shot of Wild Turkey. See! I thought, he doesn’t need a bottle – he’s just being a pain in the butt! No more Mr. Nice Mom! I just need to put my foot down and take that bottle away because if it were a pacifier, I surely would have yanked it out of his mouth and tossed it in the garbage two years ago.
Isamu may have agreed with terms on this bottle-ditching scheme but I know he’s not easily changed. He’s more stubborn than his father, louder too. And if that doesn’t work for him, he knows how to break the toughest stand with a look – the Samu look. He curls his lower lip over the top into a perfect inverted U-shape. Then he turns his eyes up, burying his chin into his chest and tucks his hands underneath it. It’s like “Blue-Steel” in that movie Zoolander, only in Samu’s case it would be called “Gold Menace” because he practically gets whatever he wants with that look, at least from my mother anyway.
I shook on this deal with a grain of salt. More like a grain of rock pretzel salt – after all, I’m dealing with an Italian-Japanese rascal here. If the Italian in him doesn’t give me an offer I can’t refuse then I’m sure the Japanese in him managed to make it appear as if he said yes when actually he said no. Plus, he’s a Scorpio, so he’s going to find a way to get back at me if he doesn’t like the outcome. Like the time he hid my laptop behind the daybed when I wouldn’t let him have more chocolate. I spent two hours looking for it. If he keeps it up, I’m going to dress him in red overalls and call him Stewy.