Maybe it was the random remark I made to my husband about having sore muscles and stiff joints that had me walking like a robot. Maybe it was the “Max and Ruby” DVD we borrowed from the library in which Max tries to irritate Ruby with his toy robot.
While the robot remarks were long forgotten as far as I was concerned, they were top of mind for Girl from the East. As I navigated my red cart through Target for the third time in a week (What? How did YOU spend your spring break?) Girl from the East ran ahead of me, stopped in the middle of the aisle, turned around and shouted across the store:
“Let’s get moving, Robot Mommy.”
I froze. Several amused shoppers turned to look around. Being the Caucasian mother of a Chinese daughter, I’m accustomed to strangers looking past me for the Chinese mother. This time, perhaps they were looking for an animatronic Chinese woman?
Should I be mad at my girl for calling me a robot in the middle of Target? Should I reprimand her for running away and shouting in a store? I don’t know. Instead, I burst out laughing. She called me a robot in Target!
“Roooboooot Mommyyyyyyy,” she sang again, standing arms akimbo. “Come oo-ooon.”
“ROBOT.MOTHER.REPORTING.FOR.DUTY,” I replied in my best monotone drone after I caught up with her. This was equally for my daughter’s benefit as well as the onlookers.
On the drive home, Girl from the East revisited the issue.
“Robot Mommy, please put on my CD.”
I replied in monotone: “I.AM.NOT.A.ROBOT.”
Picking up on the game, she followed: “Are you sure?”
I hit it back into her court: “YES.I.AM.SURE.”
This went on for a few minutes as I explained that robots do not know how to drive cars. Yes, they do, she insisted. Robots do not drink coffee. It will rust their parts, I offered.
“Yes, they dooooo. No, it woooon’t” she sang.
Robots do not have children, I offered as a final answer.
That stopped her for a moment. As she considered whether baby robots existed, the conversation stirred within me a deeply repressed memory, one which made me want to individually bitch slap the network “talent” responsible for this show. Do you remember? Maybe robots DO have children.