Raising an addict

Monday afternoon after spending several hours with Jon’s family we drove 45-minutes to my father’s house. During the entire trip Leta whined that she wanted to watch Elmo. “Do you see a television anywhere in this car?” I asked, and she would wait a few seconds and whine again as if to say, “I don’t see how that is relevant to this conversation.”

By the time we had spent a few hours with my father, Leta had been without television for over nine hours and she couldn’t wait to go home to her shows. As we gathered our things she grabbed my hand and sang, “Go home and watch Sesame Street! Orrrrrrrrrrr Teletubbies! Orrrrrrrrrrr Boobah! Orrrrrrrrrrr News!” Each “or” was stretched like a rubber band to emphasize THE POSSIBILITIES, MY GOD.

Jon and I shook our heads at both the tone of her excitement — the options were blowing her mind — and the fact that she was so happy to be headed back to the television that it didn’t matter what she watched, she’d even settle for a little news. How desperate does a kid have to be that she’d forego Elmo for Brian Williams just so that she can warm herself by the light of a cathode ray? All her veins have collapsed, but she needs the drugs bad enough that she’s willing to inject the needle under the nail of her big toe.

As I strapped her into her seat she was still listing off shows when she looked over and saw the bag of emergency goodies we had packed for the day away from home. When she spotted a bag of M&M’s her focus shifted instantly, and she shouted, “I eat M&M’s! Orrrrrrrrrrr gummy bears! Orrrrrrrrrrr cookies!” Her brain could barely wrap itself around the opportunities.

I climbed into the seat in front of her, craned my head around the neck rest and said with a shrug, “How about nope! Orrrrrrrrrrr nuh-uh! Orrrrrrrrrrr not a chance!”