Our yellow lab, Bailey, loves toast. Her ears perk up the moment she detects the crinkling sound of the bread bag. By the time the bread is dropped into the slot, the Pavlovian response is in full swing. She can be located anywhere in the house, or anywhere in the tri-state region, and still she will hear the sound of the dropped lever. Her claws clatter across the hardwood floor and she flops down on her haunches at my feet with two foot long strings of drool hanging from the corners of her mouth. Then the staring begins. She tilts her head, tries to appear pathetic, and never looks away.
My kids exhibit the same ultrasonic hearing capabilities when I enter the bathroom. They can be anywhere in the house, but the moment I drop trow and sit down for a nice relaxing…you know what, it is like moths to a campground bathroom light fixture. Within two seconds of sitting down, I look at the doorknob, willing it to stay put. But inevitably it begins a slow turn and my daughter, Chatterbox, bursts in, winging a giant pink punch balloon by the rubber band.
She is talking as though in the midst of a conversation I may or may not have been part of before entering the bathroom. She is always talking. From the moment she wakes up to the moment her eyes close at night, she is providing a narrative about the goings on around her.
Now as I sit there on the pot she is punching the balloon into my forehead and saying, “But flowers don’t have faces, and suns don’t either. But when it shines it makes the flowers smile. But they don’t have faces though, and the suns don’t have faces either.” I don’t get it either.
Now my son, "Towhead", discovers where Mommy has gone off to and comes rushing in the door too. He makes a bee-line to the step stool in front of the sink which he has recently learned to climb all by himself. He is the opposite of his sister- he hardly ever speaks. When he does it sounds a lot like Mandarin. I think. I don’t speak Mandarin.
The pink balloon continues its assault on my face while Towhead stands proudly on top of the stool, squealing in delight and clutching the little red cup. He stabs his finger at the water faucet which is well out of his reach and implores me to turn it on. “Uh! Uh! Uh!” translates to “Turn it on, damn it! Turn on the water, you dolt! Can’t you hear me?” I reach over and turn on the water so he can fill up his cup and dump it all over the counter and floor.
Chatterbox still hasn’t stopped talking. She is pontificating about bodily functions, “But when I drink orange juice I pee. And when I eat I poop. But when I drink orange juice sometimes I pee AND I poop. But I poop when I eat. Do I pee when I drink water?”
Now Towhead begins bouncing up and down, up and down on the stool. His grin is wide. He is so happy. He can say, “Up!” when he stands up. He can’t say ‘Down’ though, so he must squat down in order to stand up again and say “Up!”
Just as I receive the thirteenth blow to my temple from the pink balloon, Towhead takes a side-step off the stool and careens towards the floor. He lands on his head, and begins crying. I’m helpless. I madly start wiping so I can come to the rescue of my boy, now splayed on the floor with his feet in the air and his face bright red and covered in tears. But this was a multiple wipe job.
This catastrophe hasn’t stopped Chatterbox- she's just louder now to cover the sound of Towhead's wailing. “But, someday I want to build a snowman. I’ll name him Frosty. But Daddy can help me, because he knows how to build a snowman…”
I’m finally in satisfactory condition, so flush the toilet, stand up and yank my pants back up from my ankles and run my hands under the faucet for the less than required two times through the Happy Birthday song. I scoop Towhead off the floor hold him while he continues the aftermath gasps of his crying jag. On the way out the door I reach over and shut off the light and Chatterbox follows behind, banging her balloon and saying, as though she is asking what is in the oven, “What do I smell?”
Though I’m trying hard to remain stressed, I crack and start laughing. Chatterbox, my mini-FBI agent in training doesn't relent. She must know what has caused the foul odor...I give her my best answer, "It must be your brother."