I hear piano keys pressed firmly and assuredly. He plays "Old MacDonald" and hits every note just perfectly. "Mom, did you hear that?" I yell out, "Yes! It sounded perfect!" I reference my printed recipe, not really measuring out ingredients but instead using the recipe as more of a suggestion. A couple of cloves of garlic squeezed through my press... Unscrew the top of the oregano jar and just dump some in... Sure that looks about enough...
Down on the floor in the kitchen, she's playing with three babies, a rocking chair, a book, a purse, and a bouncy ball. She is the Mommy and those are all her Babies. The ball is her baby too. She's talking to everything, lost in her make-believe.
He darts into the kitchen, sliding on his socks with holes in the heels, bats his compass over his shoulder, and turns the corner just barely making it without hitting the granite. Out of breath, he throws his arms around my waist and says, "Mom I love you," quickly under his breath, looking down. It's as if his whole body is moving too quickly, and he's just trying to keep up with himself. Then he asks if he can paint. I really don't want to get out art supplies before dinner, because if he paints they'll all want to paint, and if they all paint then there will be watercolor cakes, baby food jars filled with water, and torn sheets of half-used, not-cheap watercolor paper on the table right when I'm ready to serve our dinner. Sigh. I say yes though because I'm trying to say "yes" with a cheerful heart when I don't want to. And I realize after I say yes that I am actually cheerful about it.
As I send him to the pantry to gather supplies, I debate the merits of "fake it till you make it" and "obedience before understanding." It's nice to be validated, to actually see the fruits of my attempts to bring joy to our household when so often it feels like everyone is just fussing at each other. It's nice when things work out.
I don't get far in my thoughts because the biggest of the small ones is asking if she can help me. I take a small sip from my glass (since it's Friday, it's my favorite bourbon) and ask her to put a cup of rice in the rice cooker. "Brown rice or white rice?" I tell her white and she skips off into the pantry to collect the machine, singing the same verse of the same song over and over and over again. But her voice is developing nicely. "Maybe singing the same verse over and over again is like reading the same board book to a toddler over and over again," I think, as I take another sip.
The brass-colored handle jiggles and gets stuck. It hasn't been working well since Christmas, but he grips it a little harder from the outside and pushes his way into the house. "Daddy's home!" They all stop and drop everything they're doing and run to him. Paint on the table, rice on the floor. His arms and legs full of excited babies, he makes his way over to the stovetop and kisses me hello. He raises his eyebrows happily when he notices the bourbon on my breath and checks the pot for signs of dinner. "It's Friday!" And the weekend begins.