On Thursday night I took care of my nephews while my sister luxuriated at the hair salon and my brother-in-law did his version of holiday self-prep with pitchers and wings. The boys were very well-behaved, as usual, allowing for your typical wailing, kitchen-floor flailing, and ignoring me with Sponge Bob-mesmerized stares.
I convince them to forgo before-dinner sweets by promising that they could have TWO of whatever they wanted if they could wait until after dinner. “Strong in me, the force must be,” because by the time they finished Parmesan penne with sauce and garlic toast accompanied by Billie Holiday on my iPhone, they forgot all about having any sweets.
The boys then learned to play Yahtzee, which I thought good for their math and strategy skills. Truth be told, I also thought it was good for me since I can’t ever get anyone else to play Yahtzee with me! (I don’t think it’s too selfish if they have fun, learn something, and aren’t squabbling.)
We cut the Yahtzee game short so that K. could get to his reading. Halfway through second grade, he has a nightly assignment to read for a minimum of 15 minutes. First he brings out a short Clifford the Big Red Dog picture book. Hmmm. I know he can read something more difficult and I tell him so.
K. settles on The Polar Express. He reads every word, with a little help from me here and there. D. is a good listener, quietly pointing out wolves and reindeer and feeling sad when the First Gift is temporarily lost. K. takes a breath to fret over how many pages are left to read, and I say, “Just concentrate on reading the words in front of you for now.” Cocoa the lab lounges in the hallway, chin on the carpet and eyes on K.
D. then reads to me a Dr. Seuss book (read or memorized? Either way, I’m impressed). Somehow I get them to shower, brush their teeth and put on pajamas before my sister and brother-in-law get home.
As I squeeze them goodbye and say I’ll see them at Grandma’s on Christmas, I add “At least if the world ends tomorrow, we had fun tonight.” The boys bounce around the kitchen oblivious to all the apocalypse nonsense.
They will go to school, have snacks, watch cartoons, read books, and try to stay on the “nice” list for a few more days. They won’t build bunkers cached with spaghettios, bottled water and whatever they think is guaranteed by their Second Amendment rights.
On the eve of the most recent apocalypse-that-wasn’t, two little boys taught me how important it is to just roll the dice for fun and to concentrate for now on reading the words in front of me.