I meet Ryan in the driveway alone. This is never a good sign. Good days end with gleeful, barefoot children spilling from the house and slamming into his legs at a dead run. Bad days end like this.
"Charlie lost his trip to the pool. I'm sorry, I know you were looking forward to it."
He hugs me hello and I take the brown paper bags from him. We turn toward the house to face the music. I open the door and we are greeted by Wes, no pants on, watching Nightly Business Report on PBS while he drives race cars around the coffee table. Charlie's voice is booming over the baby monitor, "I'M CHANGING MY NAME TO 'MR. MAD.' AND I'M NOT EATING DINNER TONIGHT."
"He refused to help me clean up the six dollars in pennies he threw all over our bedroom floor. Then when I took away his trip to the pool he told me that he wouldn't be eating dinner because I'm 'not very nice to him sometimes,' so I sent him to his room until you came home." I want to cry I'm so frustrated, but won't because I don't want to appear to have let such a silly remark get to me. "AND I'M NOT EATING BREAKFAST TOMORROW EITHER!'" he continues. I explain "He lost our outing tomorrow morning for throwing a handful of pennies down the stairs at me while he was supposed to be in his room."
I ruminate on the "not very nice" comment and come to the conclusion that the best comeback would have been "I'll tell you how nice I am! I'm not beating you with a hairbrush right now like women from another generation would be!" Damn pregnancy brain, I wish I'd thought of that sooner.
I call up the stairs "Papa brought hot dogs from Sonic if you're hungry!"
The yelling stops abruptly and a streak of red tshirt and truck undies comes barreling down the stairs then stops halfway. He says "I'm not eating dinner tomorrow night."
Ryan takes him upstairs to put some pants on for dinner and I hear them talking over the monitor. "Mom does a lot of things for our family and she can't do it all alone. It's important for you to help. And you should never be rude to Mama. She loves us all very much. I want you to go apologize to her and give her a big hug."
He skulks down the stairs and mumbles his apology then gives me a tight hug before taking his seat at the table and biting the end off his hot dog.
"I'm not eating breakfast tomorrow," he reminds us through a mouthful of food. We shrug in unison. "Okey doke!" Ryan says. I seethe silently having taken away our fun morning activity. "And I'm changing my name to 'Mr. Mad.' Mama said I can't go to the POOL with you today!"
Welcome home, honey.