#182 – Dirty Rotten Pine Cones

An angry parent knocked on our door last night. Nothing unusual there, except for once the target of her wrath wasn’t me. In a surprising turn of events, my wife was the one suffering the rough side of her sister-in-law’s tongue.

Personally, I can understand how this particular episode came to pass. Sophia is a germaphobe, and her already limited tolerance suffered a couple of setbacks in recent months. Earlier in the summer, her head encountered the contents of a leaky diaper in our subdivision’s pool. Not long after, Prometheus dropped a poop log in her outstretched hand. Two run-ins with feces unsurprisingly proved two too many.

While babysitting her four-year-old niece Sunday, Sophia took the girl and our puppy outside to play. Prometheus disappeared for a minute or two and returned bearing an unidentified brownish, somewhat-cylindrical object in his mouth. From a distance, I suppose the item could’ve resembled poop. And given the dog’s inauspicious track record, the possibility wouldn’t have seemed slim. Thus, I can somewhat understand why Sophia a) jumped to the wrong conclusion and b) freaked out when Prometheus ran straight to Maria and dropped his package onto her open palm.

Keep in mind, I wasn’t there. Sophia later told me she immediately yelled at her niece to “drop that, right now!” She added: “It’s very dangerous, and you’ll get very sick if you touch it.” Then, without taking a closer look at the discarded object, she dragged Maria into the house and scrubbed the girl’s hand with soap and disinfectant.

When I came home a short time after, Sophia happened to be on the phone. I let Prometheus out and granted Maria’s request to accompany us. As soon as we exited the house, she led me to the item in question and asked: “What’s that, Uncle Richard?” 

She didn’t say why she wanted to know, and I didn’t think to ask. Since I recognized the article, I simply answered the question: “It’s a pine cone.”

According to the evening rant delivered by her mother, trouble erupted at Maria’s pre-school yesterday, thanks to Sophia. The teacher had decided to work with the children on a fall craft project. After distributing the materials to each child, she announced: “We’ll be working with these pine cones…” She never got a chance to say more. The moment Maria heard the term “pine cones” she went berserk. Barreling through the room with a hardcover book in hand, she knocked every pine cone she could find on the floor and crushed it. At the same time, she shrieked: “They’re dangerous; don’t touch them or you’ll die!”

Now all our niece’s classmates refuse to work with the “deadly” substance. The teacher and parents of the other kids blame Maria’s mother, and Maria’s mother blames Sophia. But on the bright side, for a change, no one’s blaming me!

From a distance, I suppose one could mistake this gnawed off pine cone for a poop log.

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