Seth is fussing in his car seat.  I hear his fuss turn to scream, but I can’t see him in the dark, with his car seat rear facing.

“Samantha, what happened to Seth?”

“He bit his tongue!”

Josh and I are instantly alert.  “What?”

“Seth bit his tongue.  I saw him!”

I spin around in my seat.  Samantha’s got that look, the guilty look.  I tell her calmly, sternly, “I need to know right now what you did to Seth.”

It takes her a minute.  And then a few more minutes as we walk through the thought process that brought her to pinching the baby’s nose, the results it got her, and just how well she thought that had turned out.

Simon listens the whole long while.  Finally, he reaches over to possessively grab Samantha’s hand, turning his sternest gaze on me.  “MAMA!  You be nice to Samantha!  She’s my sister!”  He leans forward to see Samantha around the edge of his car seat.  “And Samantha, you be nice to Seth! He’s my baby brother!”

Suitably, simply chastised, Samantha and I both turn back around in our seats, and get quiet.



I hear screaming.  Again.  Feet pounding.


Samantha and Simon cower in the safety of the hallway, clinging to each other.

“A ladybug, huh.  Well, it won’t hurt you.  Go play.”

Still holding on to each other, they peer into the living room, contemplating this.

Seth, playing at my feet, becomes intrigued enough to wander their way, towards the living room.  Simon goes wall-eyed.

“Simon.  Everything’s fine.  The bug is probably gone.  Go play.”

Seth totters on towards the door.  As he approaches, Simon springs into action.  “NO, SETH!  DON’T TOUCH IT!” He bowls Seth straight over, knocking him flat on his back.

As long as the danger is a dead bug, Simon will do whatever it takes to protect his little brother.


sound wavesI’m going to be deaf before I turn forty.

Samantha:  “Mom!  Where are we going?!”

Me:  “We’re going to the store.  First the store, then the playground.  Number 1, the store.  Number 2, the playground.”  Now, both Samantha and Simon should understand.  It’s only the fifth time I’ve said since helping them with their clothes, but the first time since getting everyone strapped into their seats.

Samantha:  “MOM!  I want to go to a place with unicorns and a ferris wheel!”

Me:  “We can’t.  There isn’t any such place anywhere near here [or on this planet, but I don’t say that], and we have to go the store.  First the store, then the playground.  Number 1, the store.  Number 2, the playground.”  Simon really likes to tick things off on his fingers, and is happily repeating my order of affairs on his fingers now.

Samantha:  “MOM! We can drive to a place far away with unicorns and a ferris wheel.”

Me:  “We’re going to the store.”

Samantha:  “BUT MOM!  I REALLY want to go there!”

Me:  “We’re going to the store.”


Me:  “We’re going to the store!”

Simon:  “I don’t WANT TO GO to the store!

Me:  “Simon, we are going to the playground, after the store.  Number 1 the store, number 2 the playground.”

Simon:  “Oh, okay.”

Samantha:  “Mom, can we go to TWO stores?”

Me:  “No, we’re going to one store.”

Samantha:  “But mom, I want to go to TWO stores!”

Simon:  “I want to go to the PLAYGROUND!”

Me:  “If you keep this up, no one is going to the store.  We are ALL GOING HOME!”

Them:  “BUT MOM! I don’t want to go HOME!

So we make it to the store.  Inside, in the produce section, another mother of two littles stops me to ask, “How do you look so calm?”

I didn’t have an answer then.  Calm.  I was surprised to hear that word.  Numb.  Dazed.  Maybe those are a better fit.

Kung Fu Master

I kicked them out of the living room.  Samantha, a little stung, escorted Simon out of the room.  I can hear them all the way to the bedroom.

Samantha says, “Simon, c’mon.  Let’s go play our kung fu game.”

I can hear some moving around, and as it doesn’t sound as though death is imminent, I stay busy where I am.

Samantha says, “Simon, this our fighting area.  This is my side.  And this is the boy’s side.”

Simon seems to be ignoring her game suggestions, from what I can hear, so I carry on.  Time passes, with lots of giggling and the sound of running feet.  Happy children at play.

Suddenly, Samantha scolds, “SIMON!  You hurt me in our kung fu game!”

Game over.


Simon was in the bathroom while Samantha was in the kitchen complaining about her tights.  He overhears her, and pipes up, “KITES?  You have a kite?”  Samantha, still in a foul mood, howls back, “I SAID TIGHTS!”


Simon comes skipping out, “No, you have a kite!”  And he tries to snatch her tights to show her just how they become a kite.

Samantha yanks them back.  “I SAID TIGHTS! They’re MY tights!”

Simon yanks them back, laughing, “Kite!  It’s a kite!  Let’s fly a kite!”

Samantha screams at him, “I SAID TIGHTS!  L – O – Y – O – P  TIGHTS!”

And now she’s really mad, from watching her mom and dad have to pick themselves up off the floor from laughing so hard.

Game over.  Reset.


At the end of a long day shopping, we all had a snack at Whole Foods.  Sitting at the table together, family snack time went something like this:

“No, you each get one lollipop.”

“Simon, you cannot have your sister’s lollipop.  Yes, I’m talking to you.”

“Simon, sit down.  I’m trying to talk to Mama.  I will talk to you in a minute.”

“No, there are no more lollipops.  Hush, I’m trying to talk to Mama.  I will talk to you.  Let me finish.”

“Samantha, if you’re going to eat that lollipop, eat it now!  Simon, hold on.”

“No, there are no more lollipops.  HUSH! I’m trying to TALK TO MAMA!”

“Yes, Samantha,  you may give your lollipop to Simon if you don’t want it.”

So we eventually make it back to the car with a cheerful, sticky, thoughtful boy.  As Josh is fastening him into his car seat, he smiles up at his Daddy, and says, “Daddy, I love wallypocks.  I shared Samantha’s.  And you WILL talk to me.”


Sudden screams.  Angry, frustrated, so distraught he can’t talk screams.  Simon is standing next Samantha, who isn’t screaming.  Her hands are clasped together in her lap, and I can almost see a yellow feather sticking out of the corner of that smile on her face.

“Samantha!  What are you holding?”

With that maddening smile, eyes twinkling, she answers, “Nothing.”

Simon is about to have a stroke.  His entire face is purple, and he is screaming spit, still unintelligible in his rage.

“SAMANTHA!  Give him back his toy!”

She mimes dumping a toy in his grabbing hands.  My blood pressure goes through the roof!  I want to wipe that smile off her face in the most unchristian way.  “SAMANTHA GRACE!  YOU GIVE HIM BACK WHATEVER IT IS YOU TOOK!

She looks up at me, startled, and mimes again dumping something into his hand.

Simon giggles.  “Thank you, Samantha!”  He’s clutching two fistfuls of nothing to his chest.  “Now I have two Alicias!”  His imaginary friend.

Oh Dear God.  I just lost -my- temper, in a fight over an imaginary toy.  Way to be the adult, mom!