The DragonMonkey’s sitting on the kitchen counter, eating popcorn.
Our counter tops are pretty tall. I’m not really sure how he even got up there. I guess I’m a little impressed.
And come to think of it, where the heck did he find popcorn, anyways? I don’t remember making any recently. And yet, there he is, with a bag of popcorn in his lap, legs dangling lazily over the edge of the countertop, happily munching away.
This is a drastic improvement over the scene I walked into five minutes ago.
Five minutes ago I walked into him shoving a knife into his brother’s mouth.
“Here ya go, Squid! Peanuh buttuh! Yum!”
“STOP!” I screech.
“No, mama,” he says, annoyed at my obvious ignorance. “No ‘stop’. Yook.” If he knew how to physically roll his eyes at me, he’d be doing it. He has an open jar of peanut butter under one arm and in his other hand is a butter knife with a glob of peanut butter on the end.
The Squid stands patiently in front of him, mouth gaping like a tiny, peanut-butter smeared baby bird. It’s on his cheeks, it’s in his hair, it’s on his shirt, and it’s smeared liberally around his open mouth.
“Yook,” he continues patiently. “I feed da Squid peanuh buttuh.” His hand comes up and he starts to shove the knife into his brother’s mouth again.
My heart stops. Admittedly, it’s only a butter knife, but still.
“NO! STOP!” I swoop in and grab both the knife and the jar out of his hand and place them on the computer desk, out of reach.
“Nooooooo!” howls the DragonMonkey, heartbroken and screaming in frustration.
“MWEEEEEEEEHHHHHH!!!!” shrieks the Squid, suddenly inconsolable.
“I don’t care,” I say coldly. “No, I’m not giving it back.”
I am an evil, heartless woman, and from the sound of their desolate howls, they both know it.
I do the best I can to explain why shove-the-knife-into-your-brother’s-mouth isn’t an appropriate game, but they’re both too upset to really listen. I clean them up as best I can, and then leave them alone for a few moments so they can get over their broken hearts.
I pick up my Nook and perch on the edge of the computer chair, trying to get to the end of the chapter before they heal from their sorrow and I need to monitor them again. We have the house kid-proofed… how much trouble can they get into? Besides, if I’m not really sitting in the chair, but just kind of leaning on the edge of it, so it doesn’t really count.
It’s a good book and a good chapter, and it sucks me in.
I’m brought back to reality when Squid tugs at my knee. I glance up suddenly, taking in the DragonMonkey’s new perch, the mystery bag of popcorn, and then the Squid, who is patiently watching me.
I look at him for a moment, and silently he points to the peanut butter on the desk in front of me. I look at the still-open jar, then back at him.
“Da.” It’s his version of please.
I glance at the peanut butter, the silverware drawer (which is in a completely different room), and then at the DragonMonkey, who is oddly quiet, lulled into a brief moment of inactivity by the novelty of sitting on a forbidden surface. If I move, I’ll have to tell him to get off the counter, and the brief, rare moment of peace will be broken.
“Da,” repeats the Squid quietly, staring at me with equal parts patience and hunger.
I glance again at the DragonMonkey, but he’s calmly staring off into the distance in another direction, absorbed in his thoughts.
I pick up the jar of peanut butter, and then the knife. The Squid opens his mouth and waits, eyes locked on mine.
Oh-so-carefully, using only the rounded tip, I feed him a scoop of peanut butter. He slides it easily off the knife with his lips, with a practiced ease that unnerves me, and in that moment I realize I will never, ever be able to judge another parent for the rest of my life.
But you know what? Those three minutes of still, quiet peace were so worth it.