Meet the new manager of the house of Pancakes.
Her name is Breanne Pancakes.
She has the highest security clearance in the house and complete veto power. What she says goes, and what she says is law. Any questions? You can take them up with her mother, the assistant manager.
Now that we’ve established where we all stand…let’s go.
Bob works second shift Thursday through Monday. When Breanne arrives home from school, he kisses her little chubby cheeks, pays the nanny, and then he’s off to work. Ever since Breanne came on the scene, Eliza had been attempting to not work so late every night. She was determined to still be on her A-game at work while not becoming “that mom” who allows the nanny to raise her child. It was already bad enough that Breanne rarely had both parents at the same time, so Eliza began to make small changes to ensure the Pancakes family had as much togetherness as they could get week to week. Just last week, she moved the HOA meeting from Tuesday to Friday. Bob was only off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. She didn’t think it was fair to Breanne to cram such an extracurricular thing into their family night. Bob was relieved that he didn’t have to attend those meetings anymore, but Eliza was a little bit bummed. Perhaps she would have to take up Mary on her offer to help after all…maybe.
Bob and Eliza’s dynamic changed a bit ever since Breanne was just a plus sign on a pee stained plastic stick. Previously, they were ok with their schedules not coinciding much. Bob could enjoy a nice quiet house during the day with no one to nag him about his mess, and Eliza was free to work as long and hard as she wanted. On Bob’s off days and weekend mornings, she made sure to spend a little bit more time at home. They were ok with existing like roommates with benefits. But when Eliza was pregnant, they suddenly had a reason to be together. They began to communicate during the day via text. He would wonder how she felt, and she would send him a name she thought of. Even though Bob was a lazy a man, he helped out a little bit around the house when Eliza was so big she waddled. They got a lot closer during that time and found themselves wanting to be together more often. That was when Eliza made a conscious decision to create as much of a family environment they could for the child. When Breanne was finally born, they couldn’t help but think about each other when they gazed upon her sweet face. One could say they fell in love all over again.
On the weekends, Bob joined his ladies for brunch before he left work, and then Eliza had Breanne all day. Eliza tried her best to utilize that time and get reacquainted with her daughter. However, this particular weekend there were some people she needed to speak with in reference to a case she was working on. So, she decided to combine mommy time with work just this once.
“Are you excited about going to the park today?” she asked her daughter.
“The PARK?! I don’t think that’s a good idea! THEY are out there!”
Eliza chuckled. “Noooo, it’s ok! Look, I am an officer of the law. They never mess with me. It’ll be completely safe. I promise!”
Breanne’s breaths were quick and rapid. “A-are you s-sure?”
“Detective Pancakes at your service, little lady!”
While Bob found Eliza’s new softness endearing, he didn’t think she should talk to their daughter about her work as much as she did. He thought it made Breanne crazy. Like, actually crazy. He couldn’t actually say that though.
“Where are you going?” Bob asked.
“Ummmmm…” She was hoping he wasn’t going to ask. “Just to Hare Square Park…”
“Windenburg?” He knew that meant she was meeting with someone related to work.
She was guilty. “Yes, Windenburg. It’s a beautiful area, and the park is small. I can keep an eye on her better.” She hoped he bought it.
“Hmph. Yeah…let’s hope so.”
“Come now, Robert. It’s completely safe. Besides, she should see other parts of town from time to time.”
It was funny how Bob was never concerned about whether Eliza’s job was safe or not until they became parents. He always knew she could hold her own, but now that she was getting their child involved he wasn’t so sure.
“Make sure she finishes all her food,” she said. “I’m going to get dressed. I guess I’ll see you later then.”
“Yeah. Have fun.”
“Of course. Have a good day, Robert.”
Breanne watched Eliza disappear into the foyer and listened to her attenuating footsteps. She whipped her head back to Bob and flashed a sweet smile. “Daaaaaaddyyyyyy,” she sang.
Be strong, Bob, he told himself. Don’t let her get to you! “Yes, Bre?”
“I’m done eeeeeeaaaaatttiiiiiiinnnggg…”
“No you’re noooooooot,” he sang back.
“Yes I aaaaaaaammm!”
“If you don’t finish your food, I’m telling your mom. And she’ll talk to them.” Rats! Why do I always stoop to bargaining with this kid?
“So! I’m not scared of them! If they come near me, I’ll make a face like this, and they’ll leave me alone.”
Hmmm…that IS a pretty scary face…
The time came for the Pancakes ladies to depart. They said their goodbyes and went on their way. When they arrived, Eliza wanted to set some ground rules before she turned Breanne loose. This wasn’t her first time in public, but Eliza wouldn’t be watching her the entire time and wanted to develop some trust.
“Ok! Rule number one, the only adult you talk to is me. Rule number two, if you can’t see me, I can’t see you. Don’t run off! Rule number three, if anyone approaches you offering candy or asking for help finding droid critter cards, scream as loud as you can and run. Questions?”
“What if I have to go to the bathroom?”
“Come get me and we’ll go to a café. Never ever go to public bathrooms! There’s all kinds of unsavory charlatans in there doing immoral things. And, it’s dirty and grimy and…bleh! Makes my skin crawl. Are we good? Are we ready to go now?”
Breanne nodded and dashed off before Eliza could even take one step. “Wait! Stay where I can see you!”
She stopped. It wasn’t good when Eliza called her whole name.
“What did we just talk about?” She wasn’t mad. Just a concerned momma.
“But, I was just…going to watch the chess game!”
“Mmmm hmmm. I have to speak with that gentleman over there. Go play with the other children. And no running! Well, unless of course someone offers you candy.”
Breanne didn’t immediately go to the playground. She hung around and listened to her mom talk to Bjorn Bjergsen and a couple of teens laugh at a video on one of their phones. She liked being around older people, but after a while it got boring because she didn’t understand what was being said.
“Hi,” Breanne said to a boy at the jungle gym.
“What do you want?”
“I just want to play.”
“No girls allowed! Spaceships are for boys! No girls in space!”
“This is public domain,” Breanne said. “I play where I want! You can’t have this ship all to yourself. That’s not fair!”
“Life isn’t fair, sister. I got here first, and I say NO GIRLS!”
“Are you sure that’s what you want to say to me?”
“Puh! You’re nobody!” He walked away.
“I wouldn’t say that if I were you,” she sang.
“Oh yeah? And what are you going to do about it, huh? Go crying to your mommy like a little girl?”
“No. My mommy comes to me, and you’re going to be sorry!”
She paused for a second for dramatic effect, and then she began screaming at the top of her lungs.
Eliza didn’t even excuse herself from the conversation and ran over to her daughter just like Breanne said she would. “Jiminy cow plants! What is it? Are you hurt?” She grabbed Breanne and inspected her for injuries.
“I’m fine, mommy.”
“Oh thank the Watcher. You scared the cow plant essence out of me! What’s the matter then?”
“Oh nothing,” Breanne said innocently. “HE offered me candy!” She pointed at the boy.
Eliza looked over at him and he looked confused and a little bit scared.
“I didn’t offer her nothing!”
“My dear, if he offered you candy, take it. No need to cause a scene.”
“But YOU SAID if anyone offers me candy or asks for help searching for droid critter cards to scream and run!”
“Yes, but I meant adults, honey.”
Breanne growled. “Can we go home yet?”
“Sure. It’s getting dark anyway. Do you want to grab dinner while we’re out?”
“No. I want some more of daddy’s spaghetti!”
“Ok, then. Let’s go home.”
They left the park and headed for home to have dinner. After dinner, the Pancakes ladies settled in the living room.
“Have you completed your homework?”
“Good.” Eliza enjoyed the idea of spending time with her daughter alone, but the execution of it often did not pan out like it did in her head. There was no question about who the primary caretaker was. A lot of the time when Eliza was supposed to be spending time with Breanne, she went to Asia’s house. She told her it was so Breanne could have other children to play with, but really sometimes she was simply concerned about being alone with her.
“Can you read me a story?”
Eliza obliged and Breanne ran upstairs to select just the book for her to read. Eliza joined her on the ottoman in her room and began to read. However, Eliza’s reading wasn’t to Breanne’s liking. “MOMMY!”
“What is it?”
“You’re not reading it right!”
“Ok…how am I supposed to read then?”
“You have to do the voices like daddy does!”
“V-voices?” Oh dear…