WHY IN GOD'S NAME WOULD YOU DO THAT?!

     “Will you all please settle down?” Maria’s nerves had reached their breaking point.

Lilia quickly lifted Bruno out of the tub and into her arms to calm him while Maria towel-dried the other two. She noticed Riccardo twitching his head and sticking his finger in his ear. Maria swatted his hand away and proceeded to wipe him.

     “Oweee! Stop, that hurts!” Riccardo yelped, as tears coursed down his face.

     “What hurts?”

     “My ear! My ear hurts!”

Maria went closer to see what the fuss was all about. “Turn your head this way so I can get a better look.” Maria peered into Riccardo’s ear, where she could vaguely make out a foreign object.

     “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! What did you stick in your ear?!”

As Lilia helped to pull down his flannel pajama top, Giovanni raised his arms high in the air. With a proud smile on his lips, he said, “We put beans in our ears, Mama! Beans from the garden!”

     “Why in God’s name would you do that?! Riccardo, what did you do? You children are going to kill me!” After further inspection, Maria could see what looked to be a tiny white sprout lodged deep inside Riccardo’s ear canal—too far for her to reach. She had no choice but to get him to the doctor. “Don’t I have enough things to worry about, and now I have to deal with this, too?” Maria mumbled to herself, chagrined by the night’s events. “Maybe I should shake you upside down until the damn thing falls out! That will teach you never to do this again.”

     At that moment, Virginio sauntered into the kitchen. Seeing the look on his children’s faces signaled that something had gone awry.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

”What’s going on? Your intelligent son put a bean in his ear, that’s what. And now, it’s sprouted!”

Shielding his mouth, Virginio was torn between concern and laughter. “Virginio!” Maria darted a deadly look at him.

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