Periodically, I order the kids to do household chores but I don’t do it with any consistency. One day, I might tell them to put away the plethora of toys in the toy room (a.k.a. our basement); two weeks later, I might beg them to strip the sheets from their beds. Is it any wonder that they aren’t tidy?

Feeling grumpier than usual after our daily recitation of insults and injuries (a.k.a. family dinner conversation), I put Medium and Large to work clearing the counter and putting dishes into the dishwasher.

A little while later, passing through the kitchen, I overheard the following exchange:

“There are no monsters living in this house.”

“There are too, Nora. I’m telling you. Haven’t you heard them bumping around at night? I’ve met them. I know.” Liam’s voice rang with eye-witness authority.

“I don’t believe you.” Her shaking hands knocked one of the dinner plates against the faucet. “Whoops.”

“Believe it. They’re really scary. They have these big eyes and you know what else? Wh-what was that?” He spun around, pretending he heard something. Facing his sister, he lowered his voice and said, “They don’t like me talking about them.”

Nora froze, cup in hand. Her five years of experience with Liam’s practical jokes warred with the delicious possibility of living with an honest-to-goodness monster.

“I’ll tell you their names in case you run into them. They’re names are—and don’t blame me if you’re terrified,” he paused dramatically and then grinned, unable to keep up his charade. “Frank, Earl and Carl!”

Together, they laughed so hard they hardly made any noise.

She caught her breath first. “Frank!” she said. “Get to work!”

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