“Is he not in the tree?” Stalling for time as I scoop uneaten macaroni and cheese down the garbage disposal.
I’m rinsing the plates and feeling oddly guilty as my daughter waits for an answer.
“He disappeared this morning,” I offer in a voice that’s so cheerful it kind of makes me sick. “Maybe he’s off someplace else again? Getting you another present?” The Target shopping list is growing steadily.
“No. You’re telling LIES, Mommy.”
Why am I letting my kid make me feel like shit? I’m the parent here, not her.
I turn from the sink and face Ava.
“Honey, Jingles isn’t our elf, okay? I don’t know where he came from but he doesn’t belong here. I bet Santa will send another elf really soon. There’s still a few days before Christmas, that’s enough time for the North Pole to find someone new.”
I don’t like the way Ava is looking at me.
“Jingles isn’t going to be very happy,” she says mysteriously, and leaves.
Fuck Jingles. Mommy needs a glass of chardonnay.
For the second day in a row, I wake up to the sound of my daughter’s voice.