This morning Leo decided to sing some songs.
Cordelia was not amused.
“Jingle butts, jingle butts,” he sang as I handed him his hot cider. “Snow got on….my butt!”
“MOM!” Cordelia said. “Make him stop singing.”
I hadn’t had any caffeine at that point, and was only vaguely aware that I even had children. I struggled to find a gap in the press of clouds.
“Cordelia,” I said. “Your brother is just singing Christmas songs. Lighten up.” She stomped away. “Leo, I said, resting my forehead on my fingertips and waiting for the kettle to boil. “We’re having Silent Breakfast today. The quietest kid wins a million dollars.”
Leo, knowing full well that I am, was, and always will be, full of shit, began to sing. (though, bless him, quietly. In his sweetest voice.) “Silent farts. Holy farts.”
“MOM!” Cordelia said.
“Leo,” I said. “There’s no such thing as holy farts.”
“Anyone who’s holy farts holy farts,” Leo said in an infuriating holier-than-thou voice. “That’s what holy means.”
“Well, I’ve had enough of it,” I said. “Move on.”
The kettle boiled. A miracle! I poured the water over my tea bag and set the timer.
The timer in my head rattled against my skull. Which would come first, I wondered? Tea? Or an exploding brain.
“A MIGHTY FO-ORTRESS I-IS MY BUTT,” Leo bellowed. “MY BUTT IS SU-PER A-A-AWE-SOME.”
Cordelia erupted in a sound that was curiously similar to the sound that cartoon characters made when their faces turned red and their ears erupted with steam. In fact, I can’t say for sure where the sound came from. It might have actually been from her ears. Indeed, it might have been steam.
“MOM,” she said. “Punish him. Please.”
“I’m not punishing anybody,” I said. I poured the whole milk into the tea. Tea! I am saved!
“Leo,” I said. “One more song and you’re sleeping in the garage tonight. And I’m giving all your toys to the neighbors.”
He didn’t hear the second part.
“Wait, really?” he said.
“Yes,” I said. “Really.”
“And you’re not going to change your mind.”
“Not at all.” I said. Should I have been curious about his sudden enthusiasm? Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Yes I should have.
“YESYESYESYESYESYESYES!” Leo shouted, jumping out of his chair and punching his fists in and out.
“What?” I said.
“I GET TO SLEEP IN THE GARAGE?? AWESOME!!!!!!”
“THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!”
And he ran upstairs to pack a backpack and find his sleeping bag. Cordelia watched him run up the stairs.
“Oh sure,” she said. “Just reward him, mom! FINE!”
“But-” I said.
And she stomped up to her room and slammed the door. I could hear her rustling around. I assume she too was packing a bag. I decided not to notice.
And it was quiet. And the tea eased its way inside of my skull, disabling the dynamite lodged in my frontal lobes. I pressed my fingers against the curve of warm ceramic.
Apparently, my children will sleep in the garage tonight. I hope Child Protective Services doesn’t mind. It was, after all, their idea. Well, really it was my idea, but I am, as I mentioned before, full of shit. I wasn’t gonna make him. But now he says it’s the best day of his life. So I’m stuck.
With these thoughts I drank my tea. I let it slip its way down my throat, into the solar plexus, into the heart, like a prayer.
“A mighty fortress is my butt,” I sang quietly to myself. “My butt is super awesome.”
And you know what? I really meant it.