This kind of excitement we have not seen since Christmas. Mr. Pants (who, for the record, spent a good half hour bawling at us this afternoon because he had lost his Luke Skywalker minifigure in the weeds and was absolutely demanding our help in finding it and we were refusing because it was hot and muggy and we were dripping with sweat and covered in dirt and moving hundreds of pounds of granit pavers; truly, Mr. Right moved almost all of them, but I was digging planting holes, so I was also sweaty and dirty and in no mood to hunt for a lost minifigure. Luke was eventually found under the car and the tears stopped as swiftly as they had started.) is jittering on tip toes asking which dish he should clear next from the dinner table.
He clears everything, stopping only once (at the avocado plate) to ask "Can I have the rest of that?", then stuff it all into his mouth with both hands and hop off to the kitchen with the empty plate. (I really wish I had a video of that; it was priceless.)
When the table is clear, he comes back with a large, fuschia-bordered sheet of notepaper and a pencil. He is even more excited now that he is acting officially as DiDi's emissary from the kitchen to the dining room. DiDi has written three headings on the paper: "Chocolate", "Vanilla", and "Both". Shmoogie places her order before I've even realized what exactly is going on; by the time he gets to me, he already has a hash mark under "Chocolate" for her. "Do you want chocolate, vanilla, or both?" he asks me. "Both!" yells Shmoogie, changing her order even as I explain that I am going to wait and have my ice cream later.
Mr. Pants is dismayed for a moment, then sets about trying to convince me to order chocolate so that I can be the hash mark under "Chocolate" and Shmoogie can get a new hash mark under "Both". We urge him to visit PaPa and Daddy to get their orders, which he does eagerly, but comes back to me because they both ordered "Vanilla" (this was to go with strawberries). "Don't you want chocolate, Mommy?" he coaxes, "Just a little bit?"
"Not now, honey," I say, "I'm too full."
"But later, when you have your ice cream, do you want chocolate?"
"Probably, but it has to stay in the freezer for now or it will melt."
"Ok, but you want chocolate!" he happily marks me down for "Chocolate" (because he'd been earlier convinced to scribble out Shmoogie's unwanted tally; remarkably, this imperfection does not seem to bother him now that my future order has righted the imbalance).
"But I don't want DiDi to be confused!" I protest, "I don't want her to serve me a bowl and then have it melt before I'm ready to eat it!"
He bounces back into the kitchen and we all hear him make his excited report, "Here! It says two vanilla and two both and one chocolate, but that's Mommy's and she doesn't want hers yet so you shouldn't put it in a bowl yet but when she wants it, she wants chocolate."
Soon, he appears with a large glass bowl of strawberries, which he heaves onto the table before disappearing again into the kitchen. Back he comes with a bowl of vanilla ice cream, which gets set in front of PaPa as Mr. P admonishes him, "This is for you because you wanted vanilla, but don't eat yet! Because it might annoy people."
Next comes a bowl for Daddy. "Don't eat it yet, Daddy! Because it might annoy people."
Next Shmoogie. His tone is suddenly several levels bossier, "Now, Shmoogie, don't eat that yet! It might annoy people!"
Finally, everyone is served and as the first bites are taken, DiDi thanks Mr. P for being so helpful with the clearing and the order taking and the serving.
"I did a good job!" he says, extremely pleased, "And I kept everybody from annoying. Hey! Look! It's two and two and two! Two chocolate (Mommy doesn't have hers yet, but it's going to be chocolate), two vanilla, and two both!"
The sun is still up at 8 when we start trying to put the kids to bed. They are both bouncing all over the place, hardly still even to listen to stories, although Mr. P and I start My Side of the Mountain and Mr. P declares it "the best book ever!" I worry aloud that he might run away (this is the second runaway adventure we have read, since we just finished From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), but he tells me very sincerely that he will not do that until he is grown up or almost grown up, at least.
I read four chapters and Mr. P is still wriggling and I have recently heard Shmoogie singing loudly through the air vent to the next room. It is nine o'clock. I tell Mr. P that I have to go take a shower now (remember the sweaty, dirty day? there has not yet been time for a shower). Mr. P says that's ok.
I peek into Shmoogie's dim room on my way to the shower and discover Mr. Right on the floor, snoring, and no sign of Shmoogie (unless you count the thrown-back sheets on her bed a sign). I shake Mr. Right awake and tell him how funny it is that he's asleep but his daughter is fully awake and roaming the house (I think I hear her voice downstairs chatting with PaPa and DiDi). He seems awake, but maybe not awake enough to share the joke.
I go for my shower.
As I'm rinsing the shampoo from my hair, the bathroom door opens and Mr. P proudly tells me, "I told Shmoogie a whole story!" (no doubt it involved the two of them and Alex the dog as Jedi knights in training, which is what Mr. Right's bedtime story inventions have lately been demanded to contain). I tell him that's wonderful. "Yeah," he nods, "and now she's almost asleep!" Ah, good, I think, and tell him to go tell himself a story. (Hey, it could happen. Some day.)
When I get out of the shower, I find that he has somehow found a new moving box, opened it up so it's standing upright with the open sides on the floor and facing the ceiling, put a pillow in it, and is sort of curled up on the pillow. I can see only his feet peaking out the open bottom of the box and I think maybe he's asleep, but when I whisper his name his head pops out the top of the box and he tells me that he loves this box because it makes him feel like the boy in the story and he's going to sleep in this box all night.
He then sweetly requests that I sing him "Puff the Magic Dragon".
I do, from the next room, which is mine and Mr. Right's for the week, while putting on my own pajamas.
I climb into bed with the laptop to write this post and get one sentence down before Mr. P appears at my door (Mr. Right, I will mention, is still asleep on Shmoogie's floor; luckily, Shmoogie is also asleep in her bed by this point). I tell him to come lie down on the bed next to me and he leaps at the chance. Soon he is staring over my shoulder, trying to make out the words I have typed.
He complains that it is too hard to read. He expresses astonishment that I'm "putting stuff through to there", i.e., that my fingers are tapping buttons and words are flowing into a box on the screen. He then makes out a crucial phrase, "Mr. Pants? Why did you write Mr. Pants?"
I continue typing and mull it over. He asks again and I tell him it's because that's what I call him when I write about him on the Internet.
You can imagine the interest that sparks. Although, mostly, he is pretty irritated that I am being so ridiculous, "Why don't you just use our real names?"
Now, finally, this post is done and he is long asleep. So, I will move him back to his own bed (not the box) and wake up Mr. Right enough to get him into our own bed. Soon, I hope, we will all be storing up snores, preparing for whatever will happen tomorrow.