Molly: (smacking the side of her crib) Da-da, mama. (I need to get in, mama). Monkey, aqui (My monkey is inside).
Me: (pulling the sheet up to Hank’s chin and bopping him on the nose) Yes, MaGoo. I’m coming.
Hank: Can you believe that she was once so so small a baby?
Me: Oh my, it is hard to remember. We should look at photos tomorrow. (wincing lifting Molly into her crib)
Molly: (smothering her monkey with love) Monkey! Olá (hello).
Me: It is hard but I also remember when you were so so so small a baby.
Hank: I was never that small. I have always been the big brother.
Molly: (peeking over the side of her crib at Hank) Mano (brother)?
Hank: Mana (sister).
Molly: (waving) Olá (hello)!
Hank: Muggy, it isn’t time for olá (hello) it is time for boa noite (good night).
Molly: (holding her finger to her mouth) Shhhhhhhhh.
Me: That is right. Hush now. (turning off the light and sitting in the rocking chair)
Molly: (laying down)
Hank: Mama, are we going to have any more babies in this house?
Me: If we have any more babies in this house they will have to find their way to us because a fábrica está fechada (the factory is closed).
Me: I decided that my body is done making babies so when Molly was born I had an extra surgery and I can no longer have babies.
Hank: Really? You can do that?
Me: I had to petition a lot of doctors who all said I was far too young to make that decision and refused to do the surgery, but at the 11th hour I found someone. This was before we knew about my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondolitis, but I knew, deep inside that my body wasn’t well enough to carry any more babies safely.
Hank: I am okay with that, if it stays just us four, but I am also okay if a baby find us and needs us. I like that idea, too.
Me: Your heart always has more room for love.
Hank: And my heart is very full of love and can grow to fit the whole world if they need me.
Me: That is one animal I am afraid I cannot love.
Hank: (giggling) It is so funny you are scared of monkeys.
Me: Trust me, I was just as shocked by it as you are! That is why it is called a phobia. It is irrational and I had no idea I was petrified of monkeys until I was surrounded by them in Gibraltar.
Hank: Why did they scare you?
Me: I have no rational idea. (shivering) But they did and now I know I have no love in my heart for monkeys, but I could love a sloth for sure and who doesn’t want to live in Costa Rica. (deep sigh at the idea of Costa Rica)
Hank: Does Costa Rica have monkeys?
Me: (snapped out of my day dream) I better google it. If so I need to find another daydream.
Hank: If Costa Rica has monkeys then we can have a duck.
Me: You are my very best boy. That is so kind of you to say.
Hank: (yawing) You love baby ducks and I love you.
Me: (rocking in the rocking chair, listening to my babies fall asleep, praying there are no monkeys in Costa Rica)
** There are indeed 4 species of monkeys in Costa Rica so ducklings it is.
Me: (walking into Hank and Molly’s room to tuck them in. Noticing the light from Hank’s iPhone peeking out from under his sheet) Right, chickens.
Molly: Mano (brother)!
Hank: Ready for bed, Mana?
Molly: (climbing onto Hank’s bed)
Hank: What book are we reading?
Me: (dodging the question, stealthily fishing the phone out from under the sheets) You know, when I was a kid I had to buy a ton of batteries.
Hank: (downtrodden that his phone was found and confiscated)
Me: When I was your age I used to hide a flashlight in my pillow case so I could stay up reading books or making up stories late, late into the night.
Hank: You did?
Me: Yep. The first couple times I did it I would wait until I’d heard the springs of my parents bed creak and moan as then got settled for the night and I would excitedly pull the cover over my head, turn on my flashlight and open my book. I needed the midnight hours to read because I was a very, very poor and slow reader but that didn’t matter because I loved books. I also used that time to look at the illustrations and I think this time studying books really helped me become an artist, but eventually my dad or mom would come in and catch me and tell me to turn off the flashlight.
Hank: How did they know? They were in bed!
Me: All parents were once kids themselves and the best parents never forget their favorite childhood games and mischief. This gives parents a sixth sense, an initiation that their children are up to no good.
Hank: YOU always know and I know you’re my best mom.
Me: (blushing) Thank you.
Molly: (snuggling with her brother, wiggling and giggling)
Me: But soon my parents didn’t come into catch me anymore so I continued my midnight read-a-thons so much so that I had to spend my pocket money on batteries. The problem was I would read until I fell asleep but because I was asleep I couldn’t turn off the flashlight. I knew I couldn’t ask my parents to replace my flashlight batteries. The first thing that they’d say would be, “what have you been up too that would require new batteries in this flashlight, peaches?”
Molly: (grinning at the word peaches) SIM!
Hank: Mama doesn’t have peaches, MaGooie! Our Grammy and Grandpa Snitch called her peaches like I call you Muggy and MaGooie.
Me: My dad called me peaches, my mom called me petunia, and my Aunt Alice called me peachie-pooh. She called your uncle Jesse pumpkin-puss.
Hank: What?!! (cracking up)
Me: The difference between sleeping with a book and a flashlight and sleeping with your iPhone is the internet.
Me: Watching YouTube isn’t the same as reading. The act of watching video or TV will actually keep you awake longer than you would fall asleep naturally.
Hank: I didn’t think of that.
Hank: Plus the internet in my room is horrible.
Me: I know. (putting Molly in her bed) That is on purpose.
Me: (turning off the light, sitting in the rocking chair) But you have a better flashlight than I ever did and a whole library full of books.
Hank: Oh yah, my flashlight doesn’t need batteries. You just turn the crank.
Me: But if you want to be stealth you need to crank it up real well BEFORE bedtime or I will know immediately your plans.
Molly: Peeees, mama? Peees? Peeees?
Me: I will buy you peaches at the frutarira (fruit market) tomorrow, Molly my love.
Hank: Mama, what were your favorite books when you were my age?
Me: There were these books called The Wayside School and the first book I ever fell in love with and the first book to make me cry, The Shoe Shine Girl and I loved fairy tales, big books of fairy tales with tons of picture. I even had a poster of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria on my wall so I spent a lot of time imagining that I was in that castle and magical.