The Boss loves nothing more than hearkening back to the days of youth. Currently, this gives her a three year span to work with. Her own memories can take her back to the latter half of two; her family's nostalgia fills her in on the rest.
"Remember when you used to eat dog food when you were a baby?" I asked The Boss one night as we dumped a new bag of Rachel Ray's Nutrish dog food into Roxie's Rubbermaid receptacle. "It was no fluke, either. You went back for seconds." I giggled at the stupid things people will do before they learn about pet food processing. The Partner lent a chuckle.
The Boss, who likes to be involved in family amusements not just by inclusion but by shared memory, looked at me. She looked at her father. She looked at the replenished container busting forth with red, green and brown kiblets. "Okay, I guess I'll try some." She shrugged. "I guess."
The Partner and I did a double-take. "Whoa, hold up," I said. "I did not even ask you to eat dog food."
She shrugged again, this time incorporating her abundance of expression and the stretch of her neck into the shoulder roll. "No, no, it's okay. I'll try some." The only fear in her eyes was the kind derived from the suspicion that her parents would get in the way of her fun. The Boss was hell-bent on reliving her past.
She needn't have worried about any trouble from me. I just stood there, all "what?" and "uh, wait a minute. What?"
The Partner raised his eyebrows, cocked his head, and reached into the stash of Nutrish. He grabbed a handful for his daughter to choose from. The Boss dug her small palm into his big one, angling to possess the offering in its entirety. "You don't have to eat all of it!" The Partner's words came out in a surprised sort of chortle.
The Boss faltered for a minute. I imagine she was going over, in her mind's eye, what she perceived to be her past dog food-eating triumph. She didn't just want to recreate the moment; she wanted to improve upon it. Her hand halted over her father's for just long enough to be discernible. Then she took it all. And then she at it, one kibble at a time.
I was turning circles in amusement, watching my back for the arrival of the state Department of Children & Families. The Partner was marveling at his daughter's gutsy quirks. "Well, what does it taste like?" one or the other of us asked, finally.
"It doesn't really taste like anything I've ever had." She pondered the question, mulling the grainy chunks over in her mouth and mind. "Well, it kind of tastes like chicken. Kind of."