The lunch train was due in from the dining room —accommodations for one. But The Kid had other plans which Ma was not privy to. When the corral gate opened, The Kid made a break for it. Ma had no choice but to follow as he dashed from the safety of the corral toward the Town Square.
Ma tried hard to slow him down by the special chair she’d had rigged out just for him. The Kid wouldn’t take the bait. In a spurt of sure-footedness, he darted past Ma, making a break for…
The two tussled near The Chair. Ma tried valiantly to redirect and cajole him to it but The Kid wanted no part of it and laid himself down in the middle of the town square. He was willing to risk looking like a tantrumming toddler to prove his point; he’d outgrown The Chair and it was high time Ma accepted that fact. Ma knew she’d met her match and had to think fast. In the end, she relented and let The Kid have his way.
The Kid rose from the dirt to help Ma with The Booster as she dragged it (still attached to the dining room chair) into The Corral. Not wanting to wait another moment for the blessed union of his posterior with the smooth plastic of The Booster, the Kid impatiently yanked off the tray and climbed up with a self-assuredness Ma had not seen before. Suddenly, she realized what The Kid had been trying to tell her all along; he’d grown —from the tiny stripling she saw in her mind’s eye for so long —into a strapping boy ready to take on the world on his own terms. Sure, he’d need her around for a little while longer but Ma knew her days as the center of The Kid’s universe were numbered.
The Kid proceeded to eat with gusto as if he’d been on a three day Tonka drive without Cheerios. He wasn’t the neatest cowboy she’d ever had at her table but Ma let him be. The hearty feast of salad dressing and pretzels, peanut butter, and apricots which Ma had prepared especially for him was a hit. He made her proud by coming back for seconds and thirds. He even remembered his manners and took a few sips of water to clear his gullet.
The sound of the beeping pump broke their quiet repast. As The Kid slurped down the last of his dressing, Ma smiled wistfully. The Kid applauded her culinary efforts and they both burst into joyous song.