My wife and I visited a car dealer last weekend because we as a family have totally outgrown our little Matrix. Even when it’s just the three of us, his red push car, and a few other odds and ends, it feels more cramped than the Tokyo subway. We’d been visiting with my mother, and brought her along so she could watch him in case we went for a test drive. Within two minutes Master Ryan had claimed the entire showroom, along with the small waiting area with vending machines, as his newest personal playground. The folks at the dealership, thankfully, didn’t mind him running around the showroom as long as he didn’t get the cars dirty. He could finally touch parts of cars like tires and bumpers that were previously off-limits as “tchi-tchi,” Korean for filthy, and he could probe the mysteries of a new sedan’s grille to his heart’s content.
After Grandma caved in, and got him Skittles and lemonade from the vending machines (because that’s why she’s a grandmother, to buy him candy and soft drinks, then let us deal with the sugar high), the real fun started. My wife had just said that he was overdue for something naughty, that he’d been too suspiciously well behaved around Grandma. Can my mother be a pain in the butt? Sure, but as far as her precious grandson is concerned, virtually no transgression short of murder is worth getting worked up about. I specifically said to her, “Mom, don’t let him out of your sight.” She gave me a dismissive wave, like I was interrupting her time with Ryan. Maybe I was, but who cared as long as she was watching him? Right?
Not two minutes later, she came running across the showroom to where we were talking with the salesman. I looked down – no Ryan. When I looked back at my mother, she was trying not to laugh. She said she’d asked a salesman if Ryan could sit in one of the floor model SUVs, and he said sure. As soon as he got into the passenger’s side, and before my mother could follow him in, he did the impossible: he closed the door and tripped the automatic lock.
I looked behind her to the left, sitting behind the wheel, was her grandson. He waved at me, like this was normal, him being in the driver’s seat of an SUV a hundred times his size. Just another day at the car dealer. For good measure, and probably because he learned this from me, he honked to get everyone’s attention. Not my usual quick “get out of the f-ing way” honk, but a long “cruise missiles are inbound” honk. My mother, wife, and I tried to open different doors, but were met with a finger wag from Ryan. Reading his lips through the closed windows, he was saying “don’t open.” While the salesman ran into the office for keys, Ryan continued what he’d been doing: levers and switches were moved, buttons pushed, the driver’s seat was jumped on. He preened at his reflection in the lighted visor mirror. Leather upholstery was drooled on. Whoever started this SUV next was going to have his hands full. Just about the only thing he didn’t do was move the gear shift, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Hate to use a cliche, but he was as happy as a pig in slop.
The salesman finally ran out with keys and unlocked the SUV. Ryan protested, naturally, when I pulled him out. Why wouldn’t he? I’d just ended the most fun he’d had since peeing on our 6th floor balcony. Then he looked up, intuited that I was angry, hugged my legs, and said, “I lub you Appa.” Couldn’t really stay mad after that, now could I?