It was after midnight, and I was two hours into a celebration: Amber was out of town but I was able to get all three boys to sleep by 10. My wine buzz hit as I watched season 3 of The Fall, a BBC/Netflix series about a dad who enjoys giving throat massages to white women with dark hair. This is different, I thought, and sort of refreshing to see a serial killer who, despite everything, was also a pretty good father. Talk about multitasking!
I dozed off on the couch mid-episode. I woke up a couple hours later and joined Ca$$ius and Nile in what used to be my bed. I still had a good 4 to 5 hours of sleep remaining until I had to take the boys to school/Grandpa’s and take my ass to work.
Ca$$ius got up at 4:50 a.m. I know this because I checked my phone; I wanted detailed evidence in order to tell him how crazy he was for waking up so early. “I want yogurt!” he cried. “It’s too early. Wait till the sun comes up,” I said. He flung his limbs, “YOGURT!” I yelled in a throaty old man voice, “LAY DOWN!”
Larke, the runt of the crew, heard the commotion and climbed out his crib. Considering he was a zygote less than three years ago, his agility these past few months has impressed me, though less so at 5 a.m. “I want yo-gur…yo-gur.”
I gave in and went to grab yogurt. But I only made it halfway before sitting on the stairs, in hopes that they would fall back to sleep on their own. They did not, but I did. And I was again awakened with cries of “YOGURT!”
The malcontents sat on the bed and ate. They had their fill and tried to go back to sleep but popped right back up. “Ma Mickey in da cov-uhs,” said Larke, before going back to his crib to grab his Mickey Mouse doll. “I want ma wolf in da cov-uhs,” followed Ca$Sius.
I tucked in the boys and their stuffed animals.
I woke up about an hour later. Nile, a comatose sleeper like his mom, had slept through the fuss. I carried him to the bathroom and made him stand up on his own. “Come on, gotta get ready for school. Go ‘head and pee-pee.”
I grabbed his clothes from the stack I organized for each for the four days Mom would be gone.
“Dada, how many days till Thanxgiving?” he asked. “Ah, eight, including today.” He went on, “Dada, you know what? It’s almost Thanxgiving.”
Nile and I were dressed and ready. Ca$$ius had a field trip to the fire station and could go to school an hour late. All I had to do was walk Nile to the neighbor’s house, who would take him the rest of the way to school.
“Dada, where are my points?”
His teacher had given him colored slips of paper for behaving, or in his case, actually speaking in class. The papers were worth points and could be redeemed for prizes. He was looking forward to it, and I understood, I’ve felt the same way when taking a shitload load of change to the Coinstar machine.
I couldn’t find the points. “Call Mama! Mama knows where my points are.” I called. No answer. I called again and left a voicemail: “Amber, call me.”
We went to the neighbor’s and Nile refused to budge. “Just walk to school while I look for your points.”
He started to tear up. “I need my points. Call Mama. I need my points.” I looked at my neighbor. Her own two kids were wearing her out. “I’m just gonna take him myself, but thanks.”
We went back into the house in search of points. No luck. We had only 15 minutes until school started.
“Nile, I’ll have to ask your teacher to give you more points, I can’t find ‘em. Let’s go!”
He stood there crying. I tried reverse psychology: “Alright. We’re not going to school today. But I’m going to work. Bye.”
He looked at me like, “Damn, that’s a good idea.”
I started over. “Nile, I’ll call your teacher and ask him to give you more points, OK? But we gotta go.”
Getting Nile to school on time meant leaving Ca$$ius and Larke home alone. They were still asleep, and school was only a 10 minute walk away, but they’re wild and unlawful and can build homemade explosives in seconds.
I drove and then ran Nile to school, carried his big ass in my arms. We got to the entry gate. “Dada, way’a’minute. I have to tell you something…I need my points. Way’a’minute…” He wouldn’t budge.
I felt the need to execute the ol’ snatch-him-up-and-threaten-physical-harm move, but like playgrounds, schools are places where we parents like to appear decent and reasonable, no matter how indecent and unreasonable we are at home.
“OK, Nile. Just tell your teacher your dada lost your points. I’ll call him and let him know to give you more.”
He walked away with tears in his eyes. I was just as sad and might have also cried had I not received the ol’ snatch-him-up-and-threaten-physical-harm move as a child for crying.
I made it home a few minutes later. Ca$$ius and Larke were awake and playing doctor in the living room.
Larke said, “Dada!” Ca$$ius said, “I want yogurt…I not have a yogurt.”