Kathleen had to go to some girl scout thing Monday night, which left me alone with the little gelflings for bedtime. Then, just as she was leaving, she dropped the bomb on me. "Oh, yeah." She said, "I didn't want to deal with this tonight, and I am not asking you to deal with it either, but I thought you should know. Anna was sent home with a letter from Mrs. Eshbaugh." Then she paused, for dramatic effect. "But the note was supposed to come home on Friday. Anna hid the note from us."
Now this was a bad thing. Being disrespectful is bad enough, but lying to your parents, now that was bad too. What to do?
So, everybody gets fed, and I'm thinking about what to do. I come up with an idea. "Anna" I say, "you have to write two letters. One to your mom and dad, apologizing for not bringing that letter home when you should, and another to Mrs. Eshbaugh, apologizing for being disrespectful. Both letters need to be at least fifty words."
Anna now starts screaming and crying as if I had just told her she would spend the rest of her life as merchant seaman. Yelling "Noooooo...." and "I want my mommy!" But I hold to it. I stand over her and won't let her do anything but write. She cries and cries.
PJ and Sam meanwhile, are watching TV. PJ never finished his dinner, so he wasn't allowed any jell-o. But then he comes to me and shows me an empty bowl, and asks me if he can have his jell-0, his green jell-o, and I, being occupied with the children's resistance front of Anna, say sure, PJ, go have your Jell-O.
Big mistake. Children can tell when you are overtaxed, distracted. They seize on your weakness. PJ brought his Jell-O past me an into the TV room something he is not supposed to do.
Anna is still fighting me on the letter. I think we had gotten as far as "Dear Mommy and daddy,..." When I look up, and find PJ's green Jell-O in piles on the green lazy-boy in our living room. Great, I think to myself, one more thing. "PJ!" I am shouting now, "go get a paper plate and pick that mess up!"
Back to the letter. Anna is crying still, as though each letter is racking her soul with torment. But we are progressing. I look up. PJ has smeared the green Jell-O into the chair! Luckily the chair is green. The chair is sticky and slimy. I take all three of them up to bed.
Sam, meanwhile, has been eerily calm throughout all this. He is lying under an afghan, his legs hooked over the side of the red chair, watching TV quietly. He goes to bed quietly too. Thankfully. They had me outnumbered. If Sam had turned on me I probably would have just given up and gone home. Tell Anna she can skip the letter, give PJ a putty knife and some more Jell-O, point him at some of the other furniture.
I finally get everyone to bed. Anna finishes her letter. I say prayers with PJ, and then ask him about the Jell-O. "PJ, you know you're not supposed to have jelly-O in the TV room."
"I forgot. I'm sorry."
"But why did you drop the jelly-O on the chair?"
"Awww, that was an accident."
"Okay," I said, really curious about this one, "but why on earth did you spread the Jell-O into the chair?"
"I'm a little confused about that myself." PJ says, his voice edging on tears. I leave his room, shaking my head and muttering to myself.
Everybody is finally sleeping now. Its quiet now. So quiet. The silence is wonderful.