When you give birth to your third boy and know that you are done having children and will be surrounded by swaggering penises for the foreseeable future, you can make certain general assumptions. Trucks, not tiaras. Blue, not pink. Mud, not icing. Scribble-scrabble, not coloring within the lines. Fart jokes. Booger jokes. Butt jokes. Barf jokes.
As the babies get older, you find out that your bed is primarily a receptacle for boyish pranks. You never get in without cautiously sweeping a hand under the sheets to see what might be under there: a plastic spider, a rubber chicken, a greasy corncob, or a prickly pine cone (this after a showing of The Sound Of Music). A good mother then finishes her nightly toilette, makes sure her nightclothes completely cover her underwear* and slides into bed. After a moment (during which there will be excited whispers from the hall) she must emit a series of piercing screams and spring from the bed, while her boys run to her, shrieking with glee at the success of their trick and pull the chicken or the pine cone from the sheets and wave it around in victory.
All of this has been true for me, and it has been loads of fun, although the greasy corncob was nasty enough to lead to the rule “No Sticking Food In Mama’s Bed, Either With Or Without Her Knowledge.” The boys have pride in their ability to scare me and then to comfort me with hugs and kisses.
Bill, of course, is the man behind the scenes helping with the shenanigans, and (I hoped) tempering the bad ideas with some common sense. Perhaps he was unaware of the greasy corncob, for example, or maybe the boys first proposed sliding a piece of grilled salmon under the sheets, and he felt that the vegetable was the better option.
Given what happened last week, I’m not so sure.
I screamed, “Honey! There’s a rat eating shrimp on top of my clothes and he’s about to leap out of the drawer!” and I sprinted back to the den and ran into the boys, who were red-faced with laughter, and Drew’s reaction was so strong that he had snot coming out of his nose.
As it turns out, this was all Bill’s idea. I was wrong about him. He’s no knight in shining armor protecting me from my boys’ most outrageous ideas. He’s the man behind them, the man who apparently places little value on an entertaining lifetime companion who provides him with gourmet meals, a spectacular (or at least regular) sex life and who sews the buttons on his shirts eventually, with little grumbling.
“Get that rat out of my house right now and take the shrimp with it!” I screamed furiously.
“Honey, it’s a fox squirrel, and that’s a pine cone. Squirrels don’t eat shrimp,” Bill said.
I was in no mood to listen to biology and locked myself in the bathroom until Bill assured me it was gone.
What a rookie mistake he made, right on the heels of our month of medical mishaps, and so close to Valentine’s Day. I hope the joke was worth it.
*If you jump out of bed clad only in a T-shirt, the boys forget about their chicanery and focus on your underwear and start chanting “Mama’s wearing panties! Mama’s wearing panties!” which robs them of the satisfaction of having tricked you and makes them think of other things way too soon.