Err A-Parent (Heir apparent) (for Matt and, of course, Jerry) Piggy stepped out of her tap shoes as soon as she got off stage, stretched her complaining toes out before her and let out a long sigh. Good to be done for the week, she thought. Even my pantyhose hurt. She bent down and picked up her shoes, careful of her aching pantyhose, and climbed the steps to her dressing room. Tomorrow, she thought, sighing with anticipation. I can’t wait for tomorrow. Kermit was leaving town tonight—within the hour actually—and she had the unheard of luxury of a whole weekend truly to herself. Tomorrow she would sleep in until it was time to dress for her salon appointment, then spend the rest of the day being pampered and pummeled, drowning her sorrows in a heated mud bath and an avocado-and-chocolate facial. She would have her ten little piggies pumiced and painted, and she would let them put a strength wrap on her hair to combat the hot stage lights. She might even let them lighten her honey-blonde hair just a smidge—it would offset her light tan. Next week was opening week for the new show, and she would need all of her energy and stamina fortified. Besides, a good rest and a little bit of help from the magicians at her favorite salon would ensure she looked her best. She had a good (trashy) romance to take with her, and a few scripts to look over. She had her ipod but doubted she’d use it in the mud bath. Nosiree, she did not plan to budge out of her comfort zone—not for anything. All of these thoughts whirled through her brain as she gathered her things and turned off the lights in her dressing room. Shutting the door firmly behind her, she stepped out onto the balcony—and absolute chaos. “But, but—“ Kermit was saying, looking thunderstruck. “I thought it was next week. I’m supposed to catch a plane in a couple of hours. Scooter, can’t you--” He was talking to someone she could not see from that angle, and she started down the stairs. “Sorry, Boss,” Scooter said hastily. “I’m scouting new filming locations tomorrow, remember?” “Oh, right, right….” Kermit said distractedly. He was flipping through his appointment book frantically. Got to get that man an iphone, Piggy thought resignedly. Scooter was great, but even he couldn’t clone Kermit, and Kermit had a terrible habit of overbooking, especially with the theatre running while they’d begun filming. It was insanity to try to do this many things at the same time, but that wasn’t her problem. Living with Kermit while he tried to do this many things at the same time was her particular cross to bear. She continued her descent while Kermit flipped open his phone and tried to call someone. “Hello, Emily,” he said into the phone. “Look—I was wondering if you were free this weekend to—oh. Wow. Wow, um, I mean, sounds like fun. Don’t forget your parachute, okay? What? Oh—right, wocka wocka to you too.” “Fozzie, do you think you could—“ Kermit trailed off at the panic in Fozzie’s eyes, and patted his arm. “Never mind.” “Hey,” Rizzo said, interrupting. “Kid can bunk with us, Kerm. We’ll hardly know he’s there.” “That’s what I’m afraid of,” Kermit murmured, garnering an indignant look from the offended rat. “Um—I mean, thanks Rizzo, but I was looking for a more, um, parental environment.” Parental environment? Piggy thought. What on earth--? Rowlf came panting up to them. “Sorry, Kermit,” he said dejectedly. “I’ve got a house-watching job this weekend. I wouldn’t mind but I couldn’t do the driving. Maybe if we--” Piggy turned the final corner of the staircase, and her blue eyes opened wide with pleasure. Of all the nice surprises! One skinny green arm waved in greeting. “Hey, Aunt Piggy,” Robin chirped happily. “I’m here for spring break.” Piggy listened to the general mayhem for a good 30 seconds longer, then rolled her eyes heavenward and waded into the midst. She caught Kermit by the arm, took his phone away from him and looked into his eyes. “Is Moi correct in assuming you forgot Robin was coming this weekend?” Kermit gulped, unhappy about looking so silly, but nodded at last. “Moi is, um, correct,” he admitted. Piggy let out a long sigh, shook her head to indicate her exasperation, and leaned forward quickly to buss him on the cheek. “Have a good tour, Sweetie,” she said firmly, then to Robin, “C’mon, kid, you’re with me.” ‘But, but—“ Kermit stammered. He looked from Piggy to Robin, torn between gratefulness and worry. “Yes?” Piggy said. “It’s just that, um, your spa….” Kermit said softly. Piggy gave him a look, her hands on her hips, and Kermit gave it up, knowing he was fooling no one. “Have you—have you ever, um, you know, babysat anyone before, Piggy?” I look after you, Piggy thought heatedly, but managed not to say it out loud. “Uncle Kermit!” Robin protested, mortified at being characterized as a child. Piggy was equally indignant. “Robin has stayed with us many times before,” Piggy said, her eyes frosty. “I think I can keep him from starving or running out into the street.” “Well, I know, but…but, um, I’ve always been there, you know, before….” Kermit finished weakly, then turned to Robin. “Robin, will you be okay?” Piggy took a step toward him, and Kermit’s survival instincts kicked in. “Um, I mean, will you be good for your Aunt Piggy?” “Of course,” Robin said, still irked. Kermit looked at him and his expression softened. He reached out and put his hand on Robin’s shoulder, looked him in the eye. “Your uncle is a doofus,” he admitted. “I got my wires crossed about the dates. I’ll just be gone a couple of days. You take care of your Aunt Piggy until I get back, ‘kay?” Robin defrosted enough to nod, then Kermit pulled him in for a quick hug and a noogie over his laughing protests. Kermit let him go then, watching as his wife and his nephew walked out the door, and though he hoped they would, they did not look back. “Where’s Uncle Kermit going?” Robin asked, slinging his Sesame Street backpack over his shoulder. “Publicity tour,” Piggy said blithely. “Some state that starts with an M, I think.” “He didn’t really forget I was coming, did he?” Robin’s bright eyes looked worried. Piggy stopped walking and turned and looked at Robin fondly. “Of course not. He didn’t forget you—he’s been looking forward to you coming for a couple of months, now. He just got his dates mixed up.” She smiled to herself. “It’s been known to happen to the best of us,” she said dryly. “He’s pretty busy, huh?” Robin said thoughtfully. “Yes, but never too busy for you, dear,” Piggy said promptly. “He’s overbooked and too nice to say no to things that will benefit the theatre—even if he doesn’t really have time for them. “Uh huh,” said Robin. “So—what are we going to do now?” He looked up at Piggy, and for the first time, Piggy felt a little thrill of panic. Despite her ire at his observation, Kermit had been right. Piggy had not been responsible for anyone who was completely dependent on her other than herself. Robin’s wide-eyed look of trust made her take a slow, steadying breath and, just as she was about to speak, Robin’s small hand slipped into her satin-gloved hand. The touch of that small hand made any obstacle seem irrelevant, and Piggy squeezed back and smiled down at him. She was a professional, and she was adaptable. She could take care of one sweet, smart, charming little frog by herself—piece of cake. But she was glad it was only for the weekend. Several times that weekend, Piggy reminded herself firmly that several of Kermit’s brothers and sisters had dozens of children at the same time, raising large families without losing their minds. She comforted herself virtuously with the thought that Hilda was probably having a wonderful time at the spa, and felt self-righteous and smug about her selflessness. She had been unprepared for the amount of time one had to spend occupying the attention and energy of an active little frog, and she had entertained thoughts of locking herself in the closet if she had to read “The Monster at the End of This Book” one more time. But they had spent lots of time in the pool, and she had managed the food issue handily with the aid of carryout and drive-thru. Their one foray to eat out the first night had ended with Piggy sitting in a booth shaped like a giant clown shoe and surrounded by more noise than she had ever heard backstage. Robin had had a wonderful time romping through the play area while Piggy sat with every appearance of calm in her giant shoe as young mothers and astonished grandmothers snuck peeks at her famous profile and tried to keep themselves from opening staring. They had not attempted restaurant dining after that, and Piggy had counted herself lucky that the paparazzi had no spies at Clownburgers. Kermit had come home tired and anxious Monday night to find Piggy supervising bedtime and reading with aplomb through a well-worn book of Mother Goose’s rhymes, complete with funny accents and comments on the clothing faux pas of the characters depicted. “Do the Better Butter one, Aunt Piggy,” Robin had said sleepily, but they both looked up as the door swung open and Kermit’s figure was framed in the doorway. Robin bounded up out of bed and launched himself into his uncle’s arms. Kermit caught him easily and swung in a circle with Robin’s skinny arms and legs wrapped around him. “Hiya, Robin,” he said. “Your uncle Kermit has sure missed you.” His eyes met Piggy’s over the top of Robin’s head, grateful and satisfied. Piggy had stood up and started toward her husband, ready to welcome him home with an affectionate kiss, but she had stopped, startled, and waited until Robin had done the honors. At last, Robin was tucked back under the soft covers and kissed goodnight, and they were able to make their way out into the hall. Kermit drew her after him into the living room, then stopped and looked at Piggy expectantly. “Did everything, um, I mean….were you, er….did you even miss me?” he said at last, with a sheepish lop-sided smile that Piggy adored. “Yes,” she said firmly. “Very much. But he was a doll.” She reached out gently and cupped his face in one smooth hand. “You look tired though.” Kermit nodded. “Couldn’t sleep on the plane. Too much turbulence.” “Are you hungry?” At that precise moment, Kermit’s stomach rumbled audibly and they both laughed. “Yeah,” he said ruefully. “Airplane peanuts and a package of chocolate-covered—“ “Don’t tell me,” Piggy teased, moving her hand to cover his mouth. Kermit just laughed and kissed that soft hand, following her into the kitchen. She made him a peanut-butter and gadfly sandwich and poured him a glass of orange juice. Even this degree of domesticity was a stretch for Piggy, and Kermit looked at the sandwich and back up at her with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “Wow,” he said admiringly. “You’ve really taken to this. Should I get you one of those frilly aprons?” Piggy turned and gave him a look before replacing the cap on the peanut-butter and snapping closed the tin of gadflies. “I wouldn’t recommend it,” she said dryly. But Kermit just smirked, enjoying the picture. “Maybe you could take over for Annette Funicello in those commercials where—“ Piggy let out a little huff of indignation, spun Kermit’s chair around and proceeded to demonstrate her superiority to the grown-up mouseketeer by plopping into his lap and giving him a kiss that made him forget all about airlines and hunger and everything else. Before he had quite recovered, Piggy had pulled away and stood up, leaving him just a little stunned. “I’m a pig of many talents,” she said airily. “And taking care of one little frog is nothing I can’t handle.” Kermit found his voice at last. “What about big frogs?” he asked hopefully. Piggy’s eyes blazed with challenge. “We’ll see,” she said, and started for the stairs. Alone in the kitchen, Kermit chuckled and finished his sandwich. All his worrying had been for nothing. Just when he thought Piggy could not surprise him, she managed to reveal some hitherto unknown facet of her personality that he had never even suspected. Once again, she had risen to the occasion on his behalf, and taken care of his nephew with every appearance of consummate skill. His sandwich gone, Kermit gulped the rest of his juice and set the glass carefully in the sink. Sheesh, he was tired. He thought of the way Piggy had looked at him just now, and some of that tiredness evaporated. Since he would be playing uncle and caregiver for another eight days, he thought he’d best get himself off to bed.