Julia changes tactics. Toy still in hand, she looks over at The Wee One, who's blissfully ignorant to my playground politics.
"How come so many different people come to the playground with her?"
I'm momentarily moved that Julia's bothered to notice. She sees this and continues.
"You come sometimes. Her dad. Her nanny. Her grandma."
How do you explain to a six year old b**** that The Wee One's REAL dad is in jail and mom and grandma are only allowed supervised visits?
I decide that's none of her business. But still, I'm not done with my playground politics. Instead, I turn, giving Julia the same innocent wide eyed expression she's giving me.
"It's because so many people love her. Who comes with you? Your nanny?"
I. Am. Going. To. Burn. In. Hell.
I think I perceive a chink in Julia's armor as she looks over at her nanny, one of the many Mexican women sitting around a picnic table gossiping while the white kids they look after run wild.
Sensing the vulnerability, I go in for the kill.
"Your mom never comes?"
Julia shakes her head quietly, putting down the toy, a sign of surrender.
I've won this round of playground politics. Victory feels momentarily sweet. Until I watch Julia slink away, seeking comfort in the arms of her surprised nanny.
Just then, The Hubs shows up, kissing me as he swoops The Wee One up in his arms, and starts chasing the other kids on the playground.
Watching him, I realize I haven't won at all. He's the true winner, the one who's adapted brilliantly to our new normal. Who all the kids flock to on the playground. In the game of playground politics, he's the front runner. I'm Sarah Palin.
As for Julia, she lived to ignore The Wee One another day. And my psychological warfare seems to have left her unscarred. For now.