The weekend passed slowly, with the Saturday morning walk in the woods (with singing, of course), afternoon game of snooker, and dinner with the Grumleys in the nearby chalet. The Grumleys had two boys and a girl, a yapping terrier named Frances and a rasping parrot named General Attawalpa. Frances, when nervous and especially yappy, usually aggravated General Attawalpa, whose previous owners had taught him to say “Sucks to yer assmar.”
Mr. Grumley, a specialist in Peruvian archaeology at the local university, and Mrs. Grumley, a retired ballerina, took their family on weekend trips about as often as the Pieters. The parents usually had post-dinner ruminations while the children ran off to play, usually right about when Mr. Grumley extracted the pipe tobacco from his left pocket. Mother and Father Pieters generally took Mr. Grumley’s occasional dinner table lectures with good humor, as they were usually truncated by Mrs.Grumley’s inquiries about the development of the Pieters children in comparison to the Grumley children, and often, what that loud ruckus in the rumpus room was.
“Oh yes,” crooned Mother Pieters with earnest eyes, “Our Booboo is the head of his class. He will be a great biologist one day.”
“How nice,” said Mrs. Grumley. “Our Daniel wants to be a cardiologist and our George is an impressive athlete.”
“Now, now, dear,” said Mr. Grumley, puffing on his pipe, “Let’s not brag so much, or the greatness of our children might turn them to stone.” Mrs. Grumley giggled.
“He’s referring to Inka myth, you see,” said Mrs. Grumley.
“We know,” droned the Pieters.
From the rumpus room came a great crash, followed by silence. The four parents rushed in, saw Zanzibar standing on a toppled bookcase, hands on hips, pigtails awry. The three other children stood in one corner of the room, stunned.
“Oh ho ho ho,” laughed Mr. Grumley. “Trying to scale the Andes?”
Zanzibar blew here hair out of her face. “No,” she said, furrowing her brow. “I knocked over the bookcase, Bucko.”
“Now, Zanzi, why can’t you be a good girl for once? Go into the parlor, and wait for us there,” said Mother Pieters. Zanzibar fumed and stomped out of the room. The men re-erected the bookcase, and everyone helped re-shelve.
The littlest Grumley, with large green eyes and cinnamon curls, took her thumb out of her mouth. “Zanzibaw is scehwee,” she whispered to her mother. Mrs. Grumley nodded to her child, clucked her tongue in admiration at her three-year-old’s remarkable astuteness.