“Amber. Stop. You don’t have to follow her when she goes upstairs. She’s old enough to play on her own,” my husband told me firmly after Natalie ran off to play with Tommy in his room.
“She’s only two,” I argued. “What if a bunch of toys fall on top of her and suffocate her?”
Tom sighed. He’s used to my paranoid ways. When the kids were babies I was the mother who would tiptoe in and stick a finger under their noses to make sure they were still breathing.
“She’ll be fine,” Tom promised me.
I tried to sit back on the couch and concentrate on NYC Prep , the show I had on my DVR and never got around to watching. But it was hard to focus on a bunch of rich kids traipsing around New York. Where were their parents?
“What if Tommy gets too rough with her and sits on her head or something?” I spoke up. I suddenly pictured my seven-year-old plopping on Natalie’s tiny face and cutting off her air. I know. The weirdest things pop in my head sometimes.
Tom gave me his famous have-you-lost-you-everloving-mind? look. “You think our competent seven-year-old is going to suddenly have a compulsion to sit on Natalie’s head?”
Well, when he said it like that it sounded ridiculous.
I settled back against the couch. It was weird actually sitting on the couch while watching a show. Usually if I have a program on I have to sit on the floor and play with Natalie while I simultaneously watch the TV. Sitting on the couch during the day was a luxury.
“What the hell are we watching?” Tom wondered. His eyes were squinting at the screen as if trying to make sense of a sixteen-year-old announcing that a $300 jacket was cheap.
“Some show called NYC Prep. I have a bunch of episodes on the DVR that I need to watch,” I explained.
“Well, it’s awful. Can I please switch the channel?” Tom begged. “Shows like this piss me off.”
He especially hates when I watch shows like The Real Housewives of Orange County. I think he gets bitter that he doesn’t own a million dollar yacht.
“No. You’ll switch it to Spongebob. Are you still going to be watching Spongebob when you’re thirty? There comes a time when you have to say goodbye to children’s cartoons, Tom,” I lectured.
“Gee, I don’t know, Amber. When are you going to stop laughing when someone farts?” Tom replied.
(For the record, I’m probably always going to laugh when someone farts.)
“I have to go check on her,” I said, standing up. I couldn’t seem to get comfortable. My butt was confused as to why it was comfortable so early in the day so it was restless.
“She’s fine, Amber,” Tom said, reaching for the remote. “I’m sorry, I can’t watch this anymore. There’s a guy on here named PC. Who would name a child PC?”
“Wealthy people, I guess. They always want to give their kids odd names,” I answered before darting up the stairs. I just peeked in Tommy’s room quietly so the kids wouldn’t hear me. Natalie was flipping through Tommy’s books and Tommy was playing with his Transformers. Phew. They were both breathing so that was a plus.
I headed back downstairs and Tom had it on The Military Channel which is almost as bad as Spongebob. He was watching a show where they talked all about tanks.
“I don’t know what to do,” I admitted. Usually I cleaned when Natalie went down for her nap. Perhaps I could clean earlier. But then what would I do while she napped? Write in my novel, I guess. I was at a loss. For seven years my day was usually filled with entertaining children. Tommy never went upstairs to play alone so the fact that Natalie did was a surprise. Tommy has recently started playing in his room. Before that he always wanted to be with me so I rarely got any alone time during the day.
“Read a book. You’re always saying that you wish you had more time to read,” Tom pointed out.
This was true.
“Or you could write your book. You’re always saying that you wish you had more time to write,” Tom added.
This was also true.
I headed for the computer. Usually I’ve been writing my novel at night when everyone has gone to bed. But surely I could write during the day. I pulled up my novel and stared at the screen. I poised my fingers over the keyboard...and strained to hear what the children were doing. Why was it so quiet? That couldn’t be a good thing, right? No good comes from quiet.
“I need to go check on them,” I said and hurried back upstairs.
I peeked in the room again. Natalie was playing with one of her Barbies. Tommy was still playing with his Transformers.
They were fine.
Back downstairs I went. I sat down in front of the computer. Poised my fingers over the keyboard. I was about to write when....
Natalie’s bloodcurdling scream filled the air.
“You see, Tom? You see? She’s too little to be left alone!” I snapped, taking two steps at a time to get to her.
I found Natalie in the bathroom doorway, standing beside this:
Tommy was beside her looking sheepish.
“Brother do!” Natalie tattled. “BROTHER DO!” She reached out and shoved Tommy.
“Hey! Natalie pushed me,” Tommy whined.
“Natalie we don’t push,” I said. “Tommy, did you take Barbie’s leg off?”
Tommy looked at his feet. “I was just playing with it and it broke off...”
“You can’t play rough with toys,” I reminded him, scooping up the Barbie. I looked at Natalie, who was howling beside me. “It’s okay, Natalie. I can fix it.” The howling abruptly stopped.
I managed to snap the Barbie leg back on and handed it to Natalie.
“Tank oo, Mommy,” she said and headed back to Tommy’s room. Tommy followed her in and they started quietly playing again.