"Sure," I said.
"What time?" she said.
"How about ten o'clock?"
At ten minutes to ten, when she found me again, she had her ball under her arm and her cleats laced. For a nine-year-old, The Storm has things pretty together. "It's almost ten o'clock," she said.
At ten, she said, "I've got some water for you. Let's go."
She comes by her control issues honestly, my baby girl. Long before I banned Balthazar from making the bed, anymore (around the same time I banned him from using my toothbrush!) because he could never do it quite right--The pillowcases should always open toward the bed's edge--my own mother was banishing me, and everyone else, from her kitchen. She still does, quite regularly. She's particular about the way her dishwasher is loaded, and the cloth used to clean her counter, and a few other things.
But, beyond the blue and gold patterns in the kitchen linoleum of my youth, and beyond the ceramics that define her kitchen now, I don't remember my mother being too controlling, at least not nearly as controlling as I am.
"I feel sorry for her husband," my father's said, countless times, referring to The Storm.
"I know, right?" says Balthazar, in response, each time.
"It gets worse with each generation," my father says.
"I don't know about that," says Balthazar. Then he ducks to avoid whatever I'm throwing at him.
At the park, The Storm instructs me: "Stand here. When I say ball, pass it to me. Then move to the goal post (she means the tree she's designated as such). If I can take the shot, I will. If I can't...."
I sort of stopped listening. I don't play soccer. I'm only there to support her.
We take our positions. "Ball," she says, and I pass it to her. She traps it. Then she stops.
"What did I say?" she says. "You weren't listening were you? You need to pay attention." She says these things she's learned from me, that I learned from my mother. I've done this to her, as my mother has to me, via both nature and nature.
"Ball," she says, again. Again, I screw up.
She braces herself on the goalpost-tree.
"Seriously?" she says, and I can see the way she'll plant her hand on her living room wall, decades into the future. I can here her tell her husband, again, the way a hanger should hang in a closet, or how to fold a towel properly.
And I say a little prayer that she that she finds a man with a sense of humor. Someone like her granddaddy. Or Balthazar.