Last night, on the eighth and final night of Hannukah, I sat the kids down and had a little discussion. We were actually eating dinner, after having lit the candles and opened some presents from the grandparents. Rows of candles burned on the fireplace, and we all basked in the glow of a rather successful holiday. Oh, and we’d just returned from a fun-filled four nights away: two in Portland, and two at the beloved Great Wolf Lodge.
These kids were fed, feted, and primed.
“Now that you’ve had a marvelous holiday, and received all sorts of treats and presents, I was wondering if you got me anything.”
“Huh?” said Efram, displaying his pitch perfect confused face.
A couple of them panicked and pretended they had something for me: “Oh, we just haven’t wrapped it yet.”
“No worries,” I continued, reveling in what little guilt I could muster. I know what I want from all of you. In fact, it’s a present for me AND Daddy.” Suddenly, with the mention of M, I had everyone’s attention. I swear even the baby looked right at me, like she understood exactly what I was saying, maybe even knew what was coming. “For our present Daddy and I would like to go downtown for a night away. Well, our present from you really isn’t the night away — our present is knowing that while we’re gone you’re going to behave beautifully for the babysitter. That would be the very best present of all. That means no phone calls, no pranks, no rope, no duct tape, no hot glue gun, and no padlocks.” I looked right at our Prime Suspect. He looked back. Neither of us blinked.
“Sure,” he said. “We can do that.”
“Hold on,” chimed Francie. “How about you don’t go, and instead for your present you stay here and we come in your bed in the morning and give you massages.” I think one of them mentioned breakfast in bed. I thought about it for a very short minute. Thought about cold little feet climbing in my bed. Thought about cold, clammy morning hands pinching my tired skin. Thought about the inevitable fight for the middle spot in between us. Thought about weak coffee and burnt toast. You see where I’m going here.
“Sorry sister,” I said. “But I have a hot date with your dad and a couple of Tylenol PM’s.” I’m really not asking for much. We’ll be gone from before dinner to after breakfast. Ok, so that’s enough time for a trip to the ER, 15 stitches, and an assortment of other horrors, but really, I’m not asking for much. Especially considering I braved that Chipmunk movie today. M, who was sitting next to me, looked over and gave me a disapproving tut when he saw me fiddling with my iPhone.
“Checking email?” he said. “Even in here?”
“Hardly,” I replied. “This movie is doing my head in and I’ve gone to my happy place.” And I pointed the phone at him so he could see how I was getting through six hours of Chipmunk hell. That’s right, while he sat and laughed along with the kids like the great dad that he is, I was looking for our next house….. in France. Whatever it takes to get through the day. Right?