The plan is hatched on a night the kids don’t have school the next day. Luca is the ringleader. She calls a huddle in the living room, and I know something is going down when I hear the whispers turn to giggles and finally someone says, “Anna, go ask dad!”
Within a few seconds, Anna is gently tapping my shoulder while I sit at my computer. Of course, I don’t show any signs that I know she’s coming to ask me a favor.
“Dad, if I ask you a question, will you PROMISE to say ‘yes’?”
“Depends what it is. What if you ask to drive the car to Chuck E Cheese?”
She laughs. I love Anna’s laugh.
Anna knows exactly how to wrap me around her finger. She’ll stand behind me for a short time before moving towards me so I can see her face. She wants me to see her incredibly sad face. But I have to look quickly because Anna can’t keep a sad face for more than a few milliseconds. Eventually, her smile turns to giggles, and finally I learn what her siblings sent her to ask me.
“Will you blow up the mattress?”
Our kids love the inflatable mattress because they can move it around the room to get the best view of Scooby Doo or the Smurfs. When it’s time for bed, each of them pillows off their 1/3rd of the mattress. No trespassing allowed.
Before I went to bed last night I checked on them. All but one blanket was on the floor. They had moved towards the center of the mattress and were sharing a blanket. Arms were wrapped around each other and feet were strewn across legs. But they were sound asleep now and had gone to bed without any tears, wet willies or wedgies.
It’s scenes like this which help me realize how much they love each other. It’s not always apparent when they argue over Nintendo or who has the most chocolate milk. It’s not enough to have a handful of Wheat Thins if your little brother received one more than you did.
As I took down the mattress tonight, Anna asked if she could help. After I opened the valve, I began folding the mattress into fourths to press out as much air as I could with my chest until I hit the floor. I told Anna she could stand on the mattress to flatten it out.
But Anna had other plans.
“Just put me on your shoulders and I’ll help you”
This time her older brother and sister were nowhere to be found.
With Anna on my shoulders, I took my time. Air hissed from the mattress with each fold. Anna messed up my hair, grabbed my ears and covered my eyes. She’s a bundle of joy with a wonderful personality. I’m slowly getting to know her as well as Luca and Lincoln, and I cherish my time with her.
“Dad, why are you going so slow?”
One day she’ll understand.