Janice was a naughty girl.
Often, she would hide in her pea patch and not come home when her mother called. Her mother would call and call, but Janice would not come home because Janice loved to hear her mother call and call.
Janice also loved her daddy.
He drove a big truck and was often away on long trips to faraway places. Whenever he was home, she never hid in her pea patch. She preferred to hide in his big warm hugs, for as long as she would let him.
One evening, after Janice had spent the whole day hiding and giggling in her pea patch, Janice’s mother reminded her that she really should come home when she was called.
“Your father was here for a short visit,” her mother said. “He wanted to give you a big hug, but you didn’t come.”
“I didn’t know he was here,” Janice cried. “I would have come, if I had known he was here.”
“You should always come when I call,” her mother replied. “Otherwise, you will miss seeing your father.”
The next day, when Janice’s mother called for her, Janice almost ran home, but, instead, she ran to her pea patch and giggled in its cool shadows.
“Daddy wouldn’t be able to to visit again so soon,” she whispered to herself.
Later, when the sun was low in the wide sky, Janice’s mother told her that she had missed her father again.
“He was very sad,” her mother said. “He wanted to give you a big hug. Next time, I might not call for you. He always goes away so sad, when you don’t come.”
“No, no,” cried Janice. “I will come. I will come!”
The next day, when her mother called for her, Janice ran to her mother as fast as she could.
“He’s not here today,” her mother said. “Today was a test. I wanted to see if you would come. I don’t want your father to go away feeling sad or he might stop making his short visits.”
Forever after, whenever her mother called, Janice ran to her as fast as she could. Most of the times, her father was not there. Sometimes, he was there and it was the biggest best hug ever.
Years later, after Janice had returned to university to finish her degree, the memory of her pea patch returned to her, in a smoke filled cafe, while she read about the work of B. F. Skinner in an introduction to psychology textbook.
“That B-I-T-C-H,” she spelled out under her breath, with a smile on her lips, as she exhaled smoke over her pint of coffee.
Later that evening, when her mother called to say goodnight, as she did every night, Janice, as she always did, answered promptly.