I must say that one of the nicest features about the summer time is the summer nights. I do not mean the summer night-life, or concerts in the park, or bonfires at the beach. I simply like the warm air and the late sunset; those are the perfect conditions to send ALL the children outside after dinner, giving Wife and myself about an hour of relative silence before somebody bothers someone else, or gets hurt; often both.
As the children finish eating they dart out the screen door in ones and twos in the order which they are done. #1 and #2 were the first to exit the house the other night with #2 shouting after her big sister in a near panic, “Wait-up!” #4 was able to bargain with Wife her way out, somehow without finishing her plate. #5 was fixed to the table by Wife’s command that he did have to finish his plate. (In Wife’s defense she dished #4 far more than was given #5.) #6 was wandering under the table, bumping knees and becoming an all around bother of #5. And when Wife and I left the table, #3 walked into the room after us surprisingly quick with a suspiciously empty plate. Suffice it to say, we parents had our quiet and the children had the full run of the outside world. The universe was at peace.
Wife and I set to chatting about the day in the twilight quiet hour. As I washed off the day’s grime she was occupied by the endless task called #7. In the middle of our employment #2 knocked on the bedroom door. As I was in the bathroom I could only hear something about finding a hat and #1 would not give it up… I think… maybe. Here’s a thought, where did the hat come from? Oh dear, I hope they did not find it out in the underbrush! If so, Wife is going to be irritated (lice scare again). But it must not have been so, for Wife shouted from behind the baby changing table, through the door, and into the equally dense head of #2, “GO PLAY NICE!”
All too quickly the sun set completely and I was forced to deal with my children as they staggered into the house. Again another dilemma, #1 threw #2’s toy knife into the dark, and #2 was very quick to remind me, “It’s dark outside!”
“Here’s a flashlight, now all of you go outside and find it. And You! Don’t throw your sister’s toys!” A dejected crew walked outside, except #2 who was quite happy to find her knife and hold the flashlight.
Then I looked for the missing boys. #6 was easy to find, just follow the screams. And there he was yelling about something that would neither hurt him nor give him harm in any way. I left him alone. #5 was asleep at the table, meal still unfinished. I left him where he was as well. They would all be going to bed soon anyway.
Once the children were brushed and cleaned, they began to file into me for a ‘good-night.’ As I hugged #2 I was startled. The night-shirt she was wearing looked fine from the front, however the entire back of the garment was completely and permanently gone like some weird magician’s trick.
The little girl held the back of her impromptu medical gown closed as she scampered away. I turned to Wife with a question, “Her favorite shirt?”