one of those elucidating discussions like the parenting mags recommend

This morning after I wake up my kids direct me to the couch, climb on either side, and pull a blanket up over us. This is their favorite thing to do after they wake – and often an opportunistic cat will choose this moment to make use of my body as well.  My kids weigh a combined amount of about a hundred pounds, give or take.  I’m wondering how much longer they’ll love climbing all over and on top of me as much as possible (like, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT while we sleep, too) before they decide they’re too grown-up to do so.

Nels is just getting over a cold and Ralph unfortunately is coming down with the same thing (twenty-four hours prior to the Food, Inc. showing he has been working so hard for), so today he stays home.  The kids love having both of us around today.  But I’m very serious on the subject: while snuggling on the couch we discuss how to best avoid getting sick, if someone we know or who lives with us is ill.  “You can stay away from them,” Sophie says.  “But then if they’re sick, they’re going to want you,” Nels responds, his eyes reflective and turned inward, clearly thinking of his own needs when he isn’t feeling well.  “Wash your hands, and rest a lot,” I tell them.

And this precipitates a new discussion entirely.  Sophie, who has recently acquired the household duty of the laundry, says, “Well, I guess I shouldn’t do my work today then.”  I think for a moment, then tell her that unless we are very, very ill, we do need to do our work.  Imagine if we gave up our daily work, I say.  What would happen then?  The kids are silent, thinking on this.

“What kind of work do I do?” I ask them.  They are stumped.  Apparently I am making no impression on them, at all.

“You cook, and shop for food,” they eventually respond.

“OK, so, what would happen if I didn’t do that during the day?”

“Daddy would do it!” Sophie replies, confident.

“OK, so he’d have to take the day off work,” I say.  She nods.  This fictitious day is shaping up rather well.

But they see where this is going.  So when I say, “OK, so Daddy wouldn’t bring home any money,” Sophie instantly responds with, “We can take some from Grandma.” She means, when I press her, the little pot full of many quarters, dimes and nickles up in my mother’s bedroom on her desk – that my kids somehow think it’s appropriate to raid.

I am trying not to laugh; let’s get beyond the fact that it is wrong to steal – perhaps especially from Grandma, who has been nothing but generous and sweet to my children since we moved in.  Instead I say, “Well, how long do you think that money of Grandma’s would provide for our family?”

Nels, blasé, responds, “When Grandma’s money is run out we can go up to a person and say, ‘Hey, let me look at your Chapstick,’ and when they pull it out we can take their money.” Then he laughs in delight.

So that’s their plan.  You know, I’d thought this would end up being a discussion where the kids sit at my knee and are awed by my wisdom about work ethic and pitching in and taking care of one another.  But no. They are basically Rapscallion Thieves without a moral bone in their body.

At 6 PM tonight Ralph and Sophie are fiddling about in the Theatre cementing projectionist details.  I’m stitching away on a Halloween costume.  Nels wakes up on the couch after an impromptu afternoon nap (he’d fallen asleep on his way home from Olympia, picking up the organic popcorn for tomorrow night’s movie) and silently walks up to me and puts his arms around me.

My son looks like he grew another couple inches in his sleep – hey, it really happens, I swear.

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