Ruth was being dragged through the dense mass of people, stumbling towards a rare shaded bench near the giant Thrill Zone Kiddy Park sign. She was red-faced and crying, seemingly burned from the searing flames of injustice and the oppressive 95° weather. The dragger, her mother Susan, was likewise affected by the heat, and was sweating and glancing haphazardly around her. She was looking for the snooty, judgy glances she was positive she was getting from her fellow moms, as they silently tutted at a too-hard pull or her too-firm grip. With this paranoia in her mind, Susan intensified her pace against her own good judgement, until the inevitable happened, and Ruth’s little feet gave out and she sprawled on the concrete pavement.
Letting out a shrill scream, Ruth shouted, “You thkwaped my knee!” Indeed, a tomato-like abrasion was forming on Ruth’s knee as her mother gave up on dragging her and carried Ruth the last few feet to the bench. By then, Ruth was bawling, almost inconsolable, as her mother futilely attempted to calm her down.
“Oh, Ruthie, it’s really not that bad. It’ll go away soon.” The dismissal of her pain only made Ruth cry worse.
“Ruthie, please, I know it hurts, but could we maybe head somewhere else where I can take care of your boo-boo?” Despite it being a reasonable request, the question only annoyed the already peeved Ruth even more, and she looked at her mother like she was the last brussel sprout left on her plate before dessert. Susan, vexed herself, gave up on persuasion and tried to tug Ruth to a more secluded area.
“I hate you!” Ruth screamed as she wriggled out of her mother’s grasp.
Goaded by a wave of her own emotions and the haughty attitude of her peers, Susan exclaimed, “Ruth Marie Armstrong, if you don’t start behaving now we’ll have to leave without that stuffed elephant you saw at the gift shop!” At this, a new wave of sobs wracked through Ruth’s body, dramatic enough to cause Susan to take a step back and consider the situation. Slightly calmed, she attempted to see the fiasco from Ruth’s point of view: In the past, when the two of them went to Thrill Zone, Ruth got to pick all of the rides she wanted to go on without any outside interference. But now, there were two uppity little aliens and their parents who wanted to pick all of her rides for her.
Empowered by this new perspective, in an attempt to soothe Ruth, Susan whispered, “Hey, Ruthie, you know what? If you ask Jason and Christopher nicely, and let them pick a couple rides, maybe they’ll let you pick some rides too.”
Still suspicious, Ruth replied, “Really?”
“Yeah, and maybe if you treat them nicely, they might become your friends, like Jess, and the three of you could have playdates.”
At the mention of Jess and playdates, Ruth’s face brightened, and like the sun breaking through a wall of clouds, a smile emerged. Ruth leaned over into her mother’s ear and asked, “Do you think I could have some ice cream?”
“Sure,” Susan answered, and Ruth gleefully skipped over to the nearest Dippin’ Dots station.