I have those ears. You know, "mother's ears". I hear everything, as well as nothing. Tonight was no different. Matt and I sat, enjoying late night television, him with a beer, me enjoying the last glass of that opened bottle of wine, while all of our children slept. Tucked away, snug as a bug. Until, I heard it. The faintest ringing of the bells on that cheap Dollar Tree toy tambourine that used to light up, but now the battery is decomposing inside of the clearish plastic cover. I last saw that toy the hallway outside the boys' room. I keep thinking, I need to pick it up and throw it away before the rust colored acid leaks out and stains the carpet or tile or where ever it might be lying.
"Matt, Curtis is in the hallway, go tell him to go back to bed."
He just looks at me, with no intention of getting up, "No he's not. It's just the rain on the window in the kitchen."
I don't buy it, I heard that tambourine. "Someone is up there. Just tell him to go to bed."
Matt begrudgingly moves to the bottom of the stairs. "Curtis! Got to bed!" Silence. He looks at me, as if to say, "see? No one is there."
I look at him, as if to say, "want to make a bet?"
So, we both stand at the bottom of the stairs. Listening. No movement detected. No sounds elicited. Matt tries a simple, "Curtis!?" Still nothing. I have yet to doubt what I heard. I know he's up there. I know it's Curtis. Brock always, eventually, makes his way down the stairs. He wants to be caught. He enjoys antagonizing us, he enjoys whining and crying and the whole show. George is stuck in a crib. Curtis will sneak out of bed and near-silently destroy books. Play with toys. Or even fall asleep in the hallway. I just know it's him.
Matt looks at me, looks up the staircase, and says, "Hey, Curtis? Want a cookie?"
Without hesitation, I hear the pacifier drop. "Yes. I come down there, now?" And from around the corner appears Za Cucky monster, with the sweetest little smile.
"No!? Go to bed, right now."
Fat kids. The cookie gets 'em everytime.