Latest Spurts: Tubble sprots and the 90 percent

January 25, 2019

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

Recently Ten outgrew her warm slippers. When we came back from Christmas break, I went on a small hunt to find her new ones. It took three trips to stores to find the right size, but I finally found a pair of fuzzy slippers that had one eye each on the tops of the feet. One eye was open; the other was shut in a wink.

On the day I found the slippers, I showed them to Ten after school.

“Wow, [Ten], those are really cute,” Twelve said.

Ten jumped on me with a bear hug. I caught Twelve’s eye over her sister’s head. Twelve’s expression had changed to one of mock terror.

“What did you do?” she mouthed.

What, like a pair of eyes looking up at you from a person’s feet isn’t cute?


Next week I turn 40. I’m still trying to process what that means, on a variety of levels. The Write Edge turns 9, and I’m excited about that. As far as my own birthday…again, still processing.

It’s a big birthday, and I’ve been aware for a while that plans are afoot to celebrate it. One day as I sat in my studio, I heard the opening notes of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal on the cello. I grinned, because Smooth Criminal is one of my favorites by him.

Of course the birthday radar went up right away, but I didn’t want to embarrass Ten. I decided to take a different tack with her. I had no doubt she was excited to play the song, but I also figured out, from listening, that she was struggling with it a little bit.

Last week as we drove to her cello lesson, I suggested she talk to her teacher, Mr. S., about the harder parts.

“No, it’s fine,” she said. I could practically hear the confession in her tone about why she’d started practicing the song out of the blue. I didn’t press her.

On the way home, however, she said, “Okay, I can’t take it anymore.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Act surprised,” she said.

“I will,” I replied. “What are you talking about?”

“Di-Di and I are playing Smooth Criminal as a duet for your birthday,” she said, “but you’re not supposed to know.”

My smile, which she couldn’t see from behind me, came back.

“Act surprised,” she reminded me.

“Don’t worry, I will,” I promised.

“This is why I don’t like secrets and I don’t like surprises,” she said with resignation.

“I know. But now I can be excited for the song.”

And I am. I’ve listened to the girls practice together all week, and I can’t wait to hear the final product. I bet even MJ would have approved.


One day I went into Twelve’s room as they belted out the last few notes of the song during their practice session. I nodded my head and complimented them on their progress.

“Why don’t you go ahead and pack up your instruments and then just read the music together so you can look through the tubble sprots, uh, trouble spots,” I said.

Twelve giggled. She stood up and went right into theater mode.

“We’re going to make a speech before we play that night and say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we went through many tubble sprots with this song.’”

Ten laughed.

“Tubble sprots?” she repeated.

“Colored dots?” I said.

“Yes,” Twelve went on, continuing with her mock speech, “we went through many colored dots with this song.”

Colored dots, trouble spots, same difference.


Last night after dinner, Ten showed me the latest picture dragon picture she’s drawn. I complimented her on the piece. Twelve asked to see it next.

The picture shows a large red dragon in the middle of the page curled up with its tail coming around it in a circle. Below that are about eight or ten smaller dragons in similar positions, although Ten had colored all of them in different colors and given them different individual characteristics.

“I can name all of the classes of dragons on there,” Twelve announced.

“Really?” her sister challenged.

“Sure,” Twelve said, amusement lacing her voice at her sister’s obsession with dragons. “There’s striker class, tracker class, um…English class.”

Ten rolled her eyes and took the picture away from Twelve in a huff. She put the picture in her backpack and marched upstairs to get ready for bed. Twelve stifled a laugh.

“Is it really worth it to incite your sister’s rage?” I asked it.

“Ninety percent of the time, it’s hilarious,” she replied. “The other ten percent it’s annoying because she gets frustrated about little things. But, yeah, the other ninety percent? Hilarious.”

Glad to see she’s got such a good sense of humor about it all.

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