The week in review through a series of short stories:
Ben gets out of bed in the morning a few minutes before I do. Like a saint, he goes to the kitchen and starts the coffee while I sit and read the news. When I hear the coffee pot’s final beep, I stumble my way to my first cup.
We try to be really quiet because if any kid hears us stirring, he or she will want to join us. We both need these few quiet minutes in the morning to get our day started right.
On this morning while I was pouring my coffee, Ben whispered, “We either have a big mouse or a small rat.”
Wait, WHAT? No. I didn’t hear him right. “What did you say?” I whisper-yelled back.
He motioned me out to our usual wake-up retreat on the front porch. “I said I saw a big mouse or a small rat in our kitchen this morning. It ran from underneath the pantry to behind the stove and then across underneath the dishwasher.”
“Well, we have to move,” I said back to him.
Jack found us on the porch soon after. He was very excited when he woke up to the news. He has wanted a mouse for his whole life, he said.
Gus cries. A lot. He really never stops unless he is sleeping, which can be hit or miss during the day. At first, we thought he would grow out of it. We have blamed teething or ear infections. We have looked at leaps and developmental milestones – a stretching of his brain and understanding of the world around him – as the possible cause.
Now we believe he is destined to be an actor. He has taken on his breakout role as baby and has fully committed.
After a particularly long day of tears, we were all feeling a little aggravated with the emotion. Jack had tried singing songs. Ellie had patted his back a million times. I had carried and bounced and rocked. Ben had tried distraction.
“Gus, it’s OK. We are all here with you. You have got to stop crying,” I heard Jack say. I looked over at Ellie who was laying face down on the carpet, obviously at her wits end.
“Time for a vote. Everyone who thinks Gus is annoying, raise your hand,” I said. It was unanimous. Even poor Ellie, who loves that baby the most, raised her little hand.
It is a rare occasion when there is not a pile of laundry to be folded on the couch. On this night, I was trying to make a dent in the mountain. When I picked up a towel to fold, I found Jack’s bug cage underneath. A giant dead cicada lay, legs up, inside.
“WHAT IS THIS?” I asked Ben. Jack was already in bed.
“Oh, that’s Fredrick. Jack’s friend. I think he’s dead,” he said.
Why is he inside? Jack brought him inside while he was still alive because, as he told Ben, “his new friend was in trouble and needed a place to stay.”
Ben and I were talking when we realized Ellie was not in her room. Typically, she can be found in there rocking her baby doll, but not this time.
I called for her. Ben called for her. Of course, she didn’t answer.
“Seriously, where is she?” I asked, remembering the time recently where I heard the glass front door slam as I was tying my tennis shoes. I found her outside talking with a neighbor.
I heard the toilet lid in the guest bathroom slam.
Her physical therapist had just dropped off her new AFOs and shoes. The braces have farm animals on them and her little tennis shoes are light pink. I let her pick out what she wants to wear in the mornings. On this day, it was a fancy, full length pink and green dress, her favorite, that we call her watermelon dress.
When I opened the bathroom door, I found her standing in the toilet bowl. Shoes, AFOs and dress. Just as proud as she could be.