Friday on the way to collect my twelve-year-old daughter (Witch Baby is her nickname) from her play date, one of the troubling lights on my Prius dashboard went on.
These were my thoughts on the subject: Witch Baby will know what that means. She will tell me what I should do. But wait a minute. I am forty-seven years old. I am fully capable of figuring out what is wrong with my own car. It’s not appropriate for me to put this responsibility on a child.
So I pulled up to her friend’s house and rifled through the Prius guidebook. I couldn’t find the little symbol to match the one that was burning its green warning on the display console. It was sort of like a stick surrounded by a circle. I couldn’t find it in the book. Maybe it was a new level of distress that the Prius guidebook didn’t want to mention.
I turned the engine on again. The light was gone. Even the car was in denial.
When my daughter got in she noticed the book on the seat and wanted to know what was wrong. I told her, describing the stick, the circle, the green light.
“That’s cruise control,” Witch Baby said. She didn’t need to look it up. She knows everything already. “You probably made it go on by mistake.”
Once home, I checked my email messages on my iPhone. For weeks my mail has been claiming I have unread messages when in fact my inbox is empty. (This is nerve-wracking when I am perpetually and breathlessly awaiting certain messages regarding publishing.) I cursed while I tried to fix it once and for all. I could not fix the problem. This was no less than an unfixable situation.
My daughter took the device off my hands and did some Witch Baby magic and in two seconds my inbox and I were square. She fixed it.
“How did you do that?” I asked.
“Oh, it wasn’t hard. I just did the things you do when that happens.”
She doesn’t have her own phone, in case you were wondering. She just knows. Everything.
“I’m forty-seven years old,” I said. “I should be able to take care of these things myself.”
“You’re forty-six,” Witchie said.
“No I’m not.”
“You are too,” she said. “You don’t turn forty-seven until the end of this year.”
I did the math. I am forty-six. I’ve been telling everyone I was forty-seven.