Always be sure what you're feeding
|Sometimes, life is more interesting than I would like—especially with children. I have two and a half . . . well, make that more like two and eight point nine ninths—I’m enormously pregnant with the third. Nicolas is three and into frogs and mud—sometimes at the same time. Angelica turns six today. The operative words are pink and fluffy. And glitter.
I was frosting the cake (think pink and glitter enough to make your teeth hurt) when I heard a horse whinny in the back garden. We do not own a horse. No pets in this house. It’s bad enough that Nic turns himself into a frog when he thinks I’m not looking, the last thing I need is for my children to have an innocent animal to experiment on.
So, when horse noises started in the back, my first thought was What has Angel done to him this time? followed by, Am I going to have to punish her on her birthday? then two distinct giggles mingled with the horse. In panic, I threw down my spatula, smearing the cake, and waddled as fast as I could to deal with the stray horse.
As I threw open the door, I was already starting the appropriate yell: “Angelica, Nicolas, what in the world . . .” but instead of saying . . . are you doing to that horse, like I had planned, I took in the scene and without pausing or stumbling at all (which I was proud of, I have to admit), I said, “ . . . is a unicorn doing in this back yard.”
Nicolas giggled and threw himself at me in a flurry of mud. “Eating Daddy’s carrots.”
While that was truthful, a more accurate summation would have been, Being fed Daddy’s carrots by a six year old in a pink, fluffy party dress and bare feet. It was small for a unicorn—pony sized and shaggy white with black hooves and a silver horn. Wait a minute—black hooves? I looked into its red eyes—burning evil red eyes and sharp pointed teeth that were even now consuming more and more of the carrot and getting closer and closer to Angelica’s fingers.
I put up my hand and shouted a word. The world stopped.
Angel stomped her foot as the unicorn-like beast froze, carrot hanging off one of its lower fangs. “Mama! Let him go. He’s my new friend!”
“Angelica, you know you’re not allowed to invite strange animals into the yard.”
“It’s not a strange animal. It’s a unicorn,” Angel said, her hands on her hips.
I snapped my fingers, pulling her to stand next to me away from the beast. “It’s not a unicorn.” I crouched down to look her in her stubborn eyes. “How do we know a unicorn when we see one?”
She screwed her eyes shut and recited: “The unicorn, the sages told; has horn of silver, hooves of gold.”
“So, Angel, why are his hooves black?”
Angelica looked over at the evidence and frowned in concentration. “Kelpie?”
From my feet, I heard Nic say: “To kelpies, child is just a snack; eyes of red and hooves of black.”
Angelica was looking from her hands to the still frozen beast. Her lower lip trembled like she wanted to cry. “But I thought he was a unicorn for my birthday!”
“Angel.” I sighed and entered distraction mode. “Where are your shoes?” Still, they both had known the right answers once prodded. I snapped my fingers and the kelpie disappeared, sent beyond my wards. I stood up, which took some effort. “I haven’t finished your cake. I’ll paint a unicorn in frosting.”
“Angel! Look!” Nic disappeared in a burst of light. I blinked and when I opened my eyes, there was a tiny unicorn with muddy hooves and my son’s blue eyes. Angel giggled and the two of them ran off to play.
word count: 661