If you’ve enjoyed the previous Reluctant Hero stories… here’s the next one!
Before dinner I was charged with the care of three hungry and clamorous little hooligans. Now after dinner I am charged with the care of three jelly-smeared and butter-bedecked clamorous little hooligans.
Prospects are bleak. I have two hours to go.
I s’pose I should start by cleaning them up. I grab some paper napkins and go to work. Only it doesn’t work. Holly giggles and Cameron yells as I smear the jelly in larger and bleaker circles on their faces. “Mommy gets it wet first!”
For good reason. That works much better. Now that the little tyrants are clean enough, I lean my elbows on the table. “So… what do you guys usually do after supper?”
“Mommy reads us books –”
Cameron rudely shoves his words on top of Holly’s. “We sing songs, too! Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!” He bobs his whole body along to the song as I cover my ears and Holly tugs on my sleeve. “I want more water.”
“Okay, I’ll get you some.”
“Me, too! I want some water!”
Nothing like being followed by bouncing children wherever you go.
Two soaked t-shirts, a shattered glass and a few tears later, I set the dirty dishes in the sink, put the applesauce in the fridge, and pull the kids onto the couch with me. They’ve filled their little fists with all the books they can hold, and I feel a sudden wave of fatigue.
“This one’s my favorite; read it first!” Cameron shoves a tattered paperback three inches from my nose. “Whoa, buddy; hold on a sec.” Holding the book at a more comfortable distance, I read the title. “Caps for Sale.”
“Read it, read it!” The couch is shaking with their maniacal bouncing, and even Jake’s tear-streaked face mellows a bit. “Okay…”
When I open the book, something magical happens. I can hardly believe my ears and eyes. Are they actually… calming down? I start reading, slowly. They stare, eyes wide and hands still. Page after page after page, until I close the book and they throw another one at me. And another. And another…
Somehow, being suffocated by a pile of children isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. Even when Jake falls asleep with his face squished up against my chest, drooling all over my shirt, I don’t really mind…
What’s happening to me?