July 31, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
57°F

Tuckered out, hungry after night of tucking ’em in

Bedtime at our house is a relative thing, like the arrival of spring. Sure, there is an official time it is supposed to occur, but it’s really more of a process. A slow process.

It’s 8 p.m. and I say to the 8-year-old: “OK, girl. Time to hit the showers.”

“But I wanted a snack,” she says from the couch, not looking up from her copy of “Animorphs No. 19,” which to me seems not all that different from “Animorphs No. 18,” which looks a lot like “Animorphs No. 17.”

“OK, what do you want?” I ask.

Then her 12-year-old brother lifts his head from the kitchen table where he is endlessly solving for “X.” That’s the problem with “X” in math. It never stays solved. That’s why I went into words instead of numbers. You put an “X” on a page, it stays right there.

“How come she’s getting a snack?” he asks, mildly indignant.

“Because she asked for one.”

“Well, I want a snack, too.”

“You already brushed your teeth.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I thought I told you to brush your teeth!”

“You told me to finish my homework.”

This is entirely plausible. I turn back to the girl. Now she’s on the computer.

“I thought you wanted a snack?”

“What do we have?”

I send the girl to ask her mother, the keeper of snacks, who is slaving over a hot sink of dinner dishes.

Now back to the brother, or where the brother should be, doing his homework, which he is not. He is brushing his teeth.

“I thought you wanted a snack?”

“Do hold knee to bush by teeth!” he says, mumbling through a mouthful of bubble gum flavor Crest.

He’s got me there. I go look for the girl again. She’s in the kitchen at the homework table, placidly crunching through a cup of croutons, garlic-flavor.

“Croutons?” I ask, gritting my teeth.

“They’re good,” she says, shrugging.

Her brother comes into the kitchen.

“I’m hungry,” he says. “Can I have a snack?”

It’s been approximately 15 minutes since I put out the call to bedtime. There have been no showers, no PJs. I’ve got one child with bubble gum breath, one with garlic breath, and “X” is still not solved. It’s like a little nightly game show, which I always seem to lose.

Finally, about an hour later, I am tucking them in. Like all fathers, I believe in a good solid tucking, a tucking that stays tucked. When I tuck a kid in, you could bounce a quarter off the bedspread and get 10 cents change. My plan is to tuck them in so they can’t get out.

“Dad, I can’t move!” says the boy.

“That’s the idea,” I say.

I try to tiptoe quietly through the upstairs hall and down the steps, which, in an old house, is impossible. It’s like walking across a balloon-covered floor wearing stiletto heels.

Or so I would imagine, of course.

Every floorboard is a potential minefield of creaks and squeaks, a bowl of Rice Krispies and my feet are the milk. The children read this Morse Code perfectly, waiting until I am exactly halfway down the steep farmhouse steps before calling for something. Or, more precisely, a whole series of somethings.

“Hey, Dad? Can you get me some water?”

“Hey, Dad? Can you get me a tissue?”

“Hey, Dad? Can you leave the hall light on?”

“Hey, Dad? Can you get Mom?”

Good question. I actually had been wondering this myself.

“Hey, Dad? Can you turn on my CD player?”

“Hey, Dad? Can you turn the hall light off?”

“Hey, Dad? You forgot to turn on my nightlight.”

At last, the little “X” and “Y” chromosomes are solved and tucked in tight. All in a night’s work.

I need a snack.

The joke’s on you

Here are a few of the jokes that floated in over the transom following last week’s column in honor of April Fools Day.

Question: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Answer: He wanted to see his friend, Gregory, Peck.

Question: What did Washington say to his men before they crossed the Delaware?

Answer: “Get in the boat.”

Question: Where do generals keep their armies?

Answer: Up their sleevies.

Question: How do you fix a broken tomato?

Answer: Tomato paste.

Thanks to all.

Contact John Gladden at gladden@ohio.net.