"Not two weeks ago I spent good money getting rodents out of my house," Josa says.
"It's just for the weekend," Leonard assures her, and gladly, too. He don't like tiny fuzzy things any more than Josa does, unlessin' they share some of his genetic material; Joanna was pretty fuzzy from the get-go, and though she's shooting up like a weed she's still definitely in the tiny category. All he can see of her over the table is her puff-ball pigtails bobbing around. She's gonna smack her head right into the table if she ain't careful.
Joanna grips her tiny hands to the edge so hard they go pale at the tips and pulls herself up until she catches sight of the cage in the middle of the table. The creature inside is zipping around like Joanna does in her more excitable moments, and there's mulch spilling out through the bars on every damn lap. Leonard thought these new-fangled cages were supposed to have stasis fields or something. Ain't nobody eating off that table until it gets a good scrub down.
"Hamster," Joanna says in awe.
"That's right, it's a hamster, baby," Josa says, but switches off her nice voice when she turns back to Leonard. As if he ain't done plenty today that deserves being nice at. "Why is there a rodent in my house," she says, and it ain't a question so much as an accusation.
"The kids take turns keeping the class pet over the weekends," Leonard says, but he don't bother using the same perky tone the kindergarten teacher had used. "It's supposed to teach responsibility."
"They think we can't teach our own child responsibility?" Josa snaps. "We don't need a rodent for that."
"It's a hamsterrrrrr," Joanna says, turning it into a song instead of a word the way she do. She clambers onto one of the chairs and leans across the table put her face right up next to the bars, scrunching a smile at the vermin inside.
"I know, baby," Josa says, and digs herself a little deeper into Leonard's heart by pulling Joanna down off the chair.
"It's not a rodent," Joanna says. "Mr. Smucker said so."
"Sounds like Mr. Smucker don't know the first thing about taxonomy," Leonard says. Damn if this ain't the fifth time Smucker's been an idiot, and Leonard's about to go get his Linnean compendium to set the record straight--his baby girl don't need to be going on with misinformation--but Josa stops him with a roll of her eyes.
"My bad," she says to Joanna. "I called it a rodent because it looks like one."
Joanna lets out a gasp so theatrical that Leonard wonders if a pack of elephants just went gallivanting past the window. "Mama, that's speezit!" she says.
Josa and Leonard look at each other, just to check that they're on the same page about not having a goddamn clue what that's supposed to mean.
"What's 'speezit,' boo?" Leonard asks.
"Speezit!" Their faces must not impress her much because Joanna stomps her foot and says again, "Speezazit."
Leonard blinks, then covers his mouth with his hand and turns to Josa. "Good lord, I think our child is trying to say 'speciesist.'"
Josa gets her mouth in that slant that Leonard ain't yet figured out if it's supposed to be a scowl or a smirk. It ticks him off regardless. "You wanted her to watch Sesame Street," Josa says, like everything in the world is Leonard's fault. Well, not everything, but enough things that she don't like it.
Joanna looks at the two of them, her back curled over like Leonard's mama's does when she's being crushed by utter disappointment with the general stupidity of the world. "His name is Booger," Joanna says. "Booger Meatball."
Leonard and Josa don't look at each other. They've been doing this parenting thing a while now and they know that if they make eye-contact, they'll bust out laughing and get Joanna all upset.
"That's a nice name," says Josa. She waits until Joanna's gone back to poking at the cage again before she whispers, "Why isn't Mr. Smucker taking care of this thing? It's his job, ain't it?"
"You really think he wanted to take home a Booger Meatball?" says Leonard.
He gets glared at but what the hell, that was worth it.