Occasionally we’re told, “Unless you have children of your own you can’t really understand.”
Okay, got it now!
The nieces were here for an overnight, to celebrate Happy Wife’s birthday, and afford their parents an indulgent date night here in Anchorage. The family lives in Fairbanks. Homemade pizzas were prepared, baked, and topped ONLY with white cheese because niece #1 insisted, with arms sternly folded, “I won’t eat YELLOW cheese.” Okay then.
Niece #2: “I want Rise of the Guardians!”
Happy Wife: “How do you ask?”
“PLEASE!… NO WAIT…I want Kung Fu Panda 2! … PLEASE! PLEASE!”
I drive to Blockbuster; they have KFP 2, one copy. Whew. But DVD, no BluRay. I drive back hoping the nieces won’t notice.
Movie is deployed and the pizza is served. Much of it found its way into human mouths! Some, however, was cached between and behind couch cushions — nieces prepping for leaner times? — and I can’t be certain Harry didn’t take advantage of an unwatched plate. This, despite our earlier beseechment, “Girls, please don’t allow Harry to get any pizza.”
KFP 2 was terrific — sated on cheese ‘n dough we all settled in and enjoyed it. Happy Wife & I eased into our third (fourth?) glass of wine. Thinking, as rookies might, the calm would carry to bedtime. Suckers.
Spoiler alert: Po Panda and friends prevail in the end, vanquishing the evil Peacock. The credits begin to roll.
Happy Wife: “Do you girls want a bubble bath in the Jacuzzi tub?”
You’d have thought the boys had just returned from war.
Nieces (in chorus): “YEAH!! YEAH! Hot tub!! Hot tub! Hot tub!… (x8).” Much frenzied jumping and running ensues.
Happy Wife begins tub fillage and I shout a caution upstairs not to turn on the jets until the water level is…but this is drowned out by oven timers going off (cupcake prep), the TV audio at 100 dB or better, agitated dog barks, and gleeful shrieks of two pre-adolescent girls: “WE WANT TO SEE THE BUBBLES! BUBBLES! BUBBLES!”
I issue a final caution, which evidently goes unheard: “Careful with how much bubble bath you put in. Goes a long way you know.”
Minutes later I hear the jets start up and Happy Wife’s alarm, “Oh my, this stuff really goes a long way!”
Nieces: “Aunt Nancy LOOK AT OUR BEARDS! LOOK AT OUR BEARDS! MAKE A BEARD! MAKE A BEARD!”
There is bubble foam oozing onto the bathroom floor. The oven timer goes off, the cupcakes are done. I steal another therapeutic pour of wine.
Nieces reappear downstairs in their jams and robes. Soothed and serene. It’s 8:30. Parental instructions were: In bed by 8:30, 9:00 at the latest.
Right. Half hour left. What better way to induce pre-bedtime drowsiness than sugar!
Niece #2 erupts: “CUPCAKES!”
Niece #1 crescendos: “YEAH! CUPCAKES!”
I jump up. The dogs jump up. Quiet has ruptured, again.
A flurry of activity ensues in the kitchen and spills over to the dining room.
Cupcakes are liberally smeared with frosting, but chairs and table get some too! Niece #2 makes one just for me and hand delivers it to the chair where I’m
seated recovering. Vanilla with pink speckles! Delicious. I note my wine glass: Empty, again.
Candles are placed, matches played with, and we all sing happy birthday to Happy Wife:
Sugar is fast-acting. Before long the lower floor becomes a track ‘n field course. The nieces are running laps. Harry snarls when one runs too close. Happy Wife’s eyes meet mine. We hold the stare a moment and say nothing, smile and shake our heads.
Time has passed. I’ve grown older. Nieces say good night to me, and Happy Wife encourages them upstairs to their bedroom, a stop in the bathroom for pre-adolescent ablutions. Then niece #2 reappears downstairs, gives me the shush sign, and proceeds to head for cupcakes.
I practice my new found skill: “Why don’t we wait until breakfast to have another cupcake, Honey?” She considers this briefly, eventually conceding the wisdom of my advice. I decant the last glass of Amarone and return to my chair.
The prior day niece #1 had lost a tooth which she carefully places bedside. By morning it has been replaced by a silver bullion liberty dollar. We all agree over waffle breakfast who did this, and how beautiful it is!
Parents arrive to pick up their children and return to Fairbanks. We ask, “How was your evening?” Great. Wonderful. Ours? Oh, we had a grand time. They were angels, no trouble at all.