After Daddy left for work, Mommy took Ally to the park. There were other Mommies there but her Mommy pushed Ally on the swing, so high she could touch the sky. Then they climbed a tree and watched the Nelsons' dog chase a ball. The dog had big floppy ears and a tail that swished the ground. It always ran over when it saw Ally then flopped so she could rub it's belly.
"Now that I'm four, can we have a dog, Mommy? I'll take very good care of him. I will feed him and take him for walks and play fetch. I'll rub his belly and give him baths when he's stinky. I'll share my Mr. Bubbles with him."
Mommy laughed. "You are a big girl now, Ally."
"Does that mean I can get a puppy?" Ally jumped off the branch and did a somersault just like the Bionic Woman. She had a dog. A bionic dog with supergood hearing. "He doesn't have to be bionic like Max. I don't have six million pennies."
"We'll talk about it later when Daddy gets home. He and I have a surprise for you."
The rest of the day was slow. Ally filled three colouring books, watched Sesame Street and took a nap and it still took FOREVER for Daddy to come home from work. Then it was supper time, her favourite mac and cheese with cut-up hot dogs, and Daddy talked about Mommy's day. "I hope you didn't overdo it, Helen."
Mommy rolled her eyes and Daddy laughed. He didn't like eye-rolling but tonight he seemed pretty happy. He and Mommy laughed at every little thing. Some times grown-ups were so silly.
After dinner, Mommy poured a big glass of Daddy's favourite beer. "No Magners for you," he said.
Mommy giggled then pulled Ally onto her lap on the couch. "Daddy and I want to talk with you about our big surprise. I hope you'll like it."
"I know you'll love it as much as we do, Chief."
"I knew it. We're getting a puppy." Ally hopped off her mom's lap and raced to her bedroom. She rooted through the toy chest until she found what she was looking for on the very bottom.
"He can sleep with Jerome." Ally handed over the old stuffed giraffe. "Just like I did when I was little."
"Oh, Ally." Mommy held Jerome close to her chest and breathed deep. She choked. "He's a bit old and dusty."
"That's very nice of you to share him." Daddy lifted Ally up into his lap on the couch beside Mommy. "We're not getting a puppy. We're going to have a new baby brother or sister."
"But I want a puppy." Ally's chin started to quiver. She wrinkled her nose to hold back the tears. She was four years old, not a baby. Everyone knew only babies cried.
"It. Will. Cry. All. The. Time. And. No. One. Will. Be. Able. To. Sleep." Ally hiccupped.
"It's okay, Chief. It won't cry all the time. It needs to eat, too."
"We don't know if it's a boy or a girl yet. What am I supposed to call the baby?" Daddy hugged Ally. "Babies grow pretty quickly and then you'll be able to do things together. It will be better than having a puppy."
"We can call the baby, Rusty, until we know its real name." Ally sniffled. "I was going to name the puppy Rusty."
"Aw, Chief, Rusty will be a good brother or sister. You'll be able to do lots more with this Rusty once it - he or she - gets older."
"Like catch and fetch?"
"Yes, and you'll be able climb trees with this Rusty. Puppies aren't very good tree climbers."
"Do babies like to snuggle like puppies do?"
"Will I have to clean up after him like I would a puppy?"
"No, that's Mommy's job."
"Will Baby Rusty love me like Puppy Rusty would?"
Ally wrinkled her nose. Her eyes were wet again. "Will you love Baby Rusty more than you love me?"
"Definitely not, Chief." Daddy pulled Ally in tight for a bear hug. Mommy kissed the top of her head.
"Okay." Ally snuggled in deep for a moment and enjoyed her parents' attention.
"Wizard of Oz is on tonight." She wiggled free. "Can we watch it?"
"Absolutely!" Daddy crossed the room to turn on the television so it could warm up.
"Can we make jiffy pop?" Ally ran to the kitchen pantry and pulled one off the shelf while Mommy laughed and followed her into the kitchen.
Later, Ally snuggled between her parents on the couch and watched Dorothy follow the yellow brick road. Would there still be room for her when Baby Rusty came to live with them? Ally's friend Shelly said having a baby sister was the worst thing ever. She had to share her room, her toys, even her clothes. Worst of all, Shelly's sister was allergic to animals.
Ally watched Toto prance along beside Dorothy. Dorothy didn't have a brother or sister. She had the Cowardly Lion, the Tinman, Scarecrow and a little dog. Ally would like to be more like Dorothy.
"Can we send the baby back if we don't like it and get a puppy?"
Her parents laughed so hard she didn't hear the wicked witch scream at the flying monkeys. A dog would have been a nicer surprise.