It took the promise of a one year Club Penguin membership to pacify Kaitlin into having the play date with the new girl. It was the right thing to do, Heather thinks. Anyone who says that they don’t bribe their children is either lying or miserable.
“Good luck,” Michael says that morning as Kaitlin stands pouting in the kitchen.
“I hate her,” Kaitlin says, her arms folded defiantly across her chest.
“Just think of your Puffles,” Heather says and arranges a tray of crackers and cheese. She’d like to make a good impression with Stephanie, the new mother. She’d seemed like a nice person and her ability to charm the constantly grouchy Luanne was amazing.
“This is going to be the worst day of my life,” Kaitlin says.
Michael waves goodbye and carries Ava out the front door. He seems eager to escort Dylan to karate class this Saturday morning. Usually, Heather has to beg him, but today he’s leaving fifteen minutes early.
Heather sets snacks out on the kitchen table and picks up Ava’s toys from the floor. She thinks that the house gives the false impression of ease and order.
Stephanie and Madison arrive at ten sharp, meticulously groomed and unnaturally happy. Madison looks like a fairy princess with her long blond hair and petite body. Heather begins to seriously doubt her own child. How could this angelic-looking girl be the source of any problems?
“Thank you so much for having us,” Stephanie says, walking in and surveying the house. Her eyes rest on the large stuffed fish hanging on the family room wall.
Heather feels herself turning red. She shouldn’t have let Michael hang that dead fish in the house. What had she been thinking?
Madison hands Kaitlin a small gift wrapped box.
“You didn’t need to bring a present,” Heather says.
“Madison insisted on a gift for her new friend,” Stephanie says.
Kaitlin unwraps a tiny gold soccer ball on a necklace and the two girls dash upstairs to play.
“Can I get you some coffee?” Heather asks.
“Thank you,” Stephanie replies. “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
“Not at all,” Heather says, escorting her guest into the kitchen.
“We’ve just completed remodeling our new house,” Stephanie says. “I’ve found a great local painter. I can give you his number.”
Heather looks at her buttercream colored kitchen cabinets, which suddenly seem in desperate need of refinishing. “That would be nice,” she says and pours two cups of coffee as Stephanie perches on the kitchen island barstool. There is the sound of laughter from the girls upstairs.
“How do you like yours?” Heather asks. “Coffee Mate, milk, Equal.”
“Rice milk, no sugar,” Stephanie says.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t have rice milk,” Heather says, looking at the large cup of black coffee that she’s poured for Stephanie.
“Nevermind it then,” Stephanie says, smiling. “I won’t drink it black and don’t do dairy. Its cancer causing.”
Heather sets the hot mug into the sink, feeling completely inept.
“It’s overwhelming moving to a new place and trying to find people you can relate to,” Stephanie says.
Heather nods, although she’s not sure why.
“What clubs do you belong to?” Stephanie asks, standing from her stool to look out the window into Heather’s backyard.
“Kaitlin’s in soccer and Dylan does karate and plays chess,” Heather says.
Stephanie turns back and laughs. “You’re adorable,” she says running her hand through her blonde hair. “No doubt you’re a devoted mother. I meant adult social clubs, country clubs, beach clubs.”
“None of those,” Heather says, feigning confidence.
“Lucky for you then,” Stephanie says. “George, my husband, wants us to join so many. It’s important for his business you see. But the prospect is so daunting. And it’s critical to join just the right ones.”
Suddenly, Heather wishes that she could turn back time. She would’ve saved herself fifty-dollars and the morning spent with a complete snob! Kaitlin was right. How could she have doubted her own child?
The next hour passes slowly as Stephanie manages to criticize Heather’s gardener and recommend an interior designer. When the girls return to the family room, red-faced, sweaty and smiling, Heather prays that their guests will leave.
“Do you girls want a snack?” she asks.
“No thanks,” Stephanie says quickly while eyeing Heather’s untouched snack selections. “We have to be going. So many things to do today. Can we have you over next time? We’d love you to see our new house.”
“Sure,” Heather says inwardly cringing.
She and Kaitlin walk their guests to the front door and wave goodbye. Heather watches as they drive away in their shiny new silver Mercedes Benz.
“You were right, Mom,” Kaitlin says. “ Madison is nice! I can’t wait to play at her house. She has a pool, a screening room and a tree house!”
“We’ll see,” Heather says, shutting the door.
“I love the necklace,” Kaitlin says. “Madison might be my new best friend!”
Heather’s head feels warm and tingly; she’s getting a headache. “An expensive present isn’t what matters in a friendship,” she says. She wonders how her daughter is so easily influenced by materialism.
“Don’t forget to activate my Club Penguin account,” Kaitlin says, ignoring Heather and skipping away down the hall. Now, Heather knows who’s the one to blame.
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a completely fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or families