Two exhausted parents lay sprawled on the couch children climbing on them, navigating them like a mountain range.
The clock reads 8:07 PM and the pooped pair of parents can barely muster the energy to begin herding their brood upstairs towards bed.
Three sprouts begin to spout cries of protest. "Please!" they plead, "Don't make us go to bed!"
The drained Daddy, in his depleted state says something quite unusual. "Fine, stay up and watch TV. Mommy & I are going to bed. Just tuck yourselves in tonight."
With these words he turns and takes his tuckered-out tail to bed.
The bambinos take the bait and start to scramble up the steps behind him. They scurry to assure that Mommy will still snuggle them to sleep. All but one.
The Middle Monkey meanders up the steps, making a list of the shows he intends to watch after Mommy & Daddy have gone to bed. It appears that Middle Monkey saw Daddy's words as more of an opportunity than a threat.
Sitting on the steps of his bunk, pulling on his Pull-Up, he asks sweetly, "Mommy, can you help me turn on a Diego?"
Mommy chuckles softly as she delivers snuggles to the Monster Monkey, "No way, Jose. If you are big enough to stay up by yourself then you have to be big enough to work the TV by yourself."
"But Mommy!" he cries, "I don't know how to find my shows! I'm too little to read!"
Swollen tears slide down his soft cheeks, falling from his big, beautiful eyes. His look is so earnest that she can't help but laugh out loud. She comes around the bed and kisses his teary eyes.
"Okay," she bargains, "if you are still awake in 30 minutes then I'll come help you turn on the TV." Satisfied with this arrangement he scoots into his bunk and sets about the business of keeping his eyes wide open to ensure that he'll be awake for TV time.
With two of three Monkey's tucked snug in their beds, Mommy is off to Monkey to the Mini-Monkey
"Mommy, will you read a book?" The Mini-Monkey asks in her angelic little voice. Who could say no?
Mini-Monkey holds up Dora's Easter book. Mommy knows this book all too well. LOTS of pages, tiny print. Many, many words.
"Umm... let's lets pick another book." Mommy says softly.
Mini-Monkey is armed, almost as if she'd done this before. She hands over another seasonal favorite, Peter Cottontail.
Sure, sure, its all fun and games until you are suckered into reading the 20 page, tiny print book six times.
No no, Mini-Monkey, not this Mommy, not this night.
Mommy suggests sleepily, "Let's pick a different book? How about this one?" Mommy holds up an Easter Bunny board book. Perfect for bedtime reading, a gift from a BRILLIANT Aunt who has been there, done that. Six pages, huge font, LOTS of pictures.
Mini-Monkey is dejected. Her bottom lip quivers as she looks up at Mommy and wails, "Why doesn't anyone want to read my books?"
Again, the laughter could not be contained. Apparently Daddy had already been in to read the book and had already worked his way out of reading the long books.
Someday she'll understand when she has Monkeys' of her own. Someday when she is weary, worn and weak she will know.
But today, well, today she is two and today she will get her way because...Mommy loves you.
An hour later Mommy finally crawls out of Mini-Monkey's bed, careful not to waking the sleeping sweet pea. Both Mommy & Monkey had fallen sound asleep somewhere in the middle of Dora's Easter. On her way to her bedroom, she stopped in just to check on Middle & Monster. Both were zonked, the whispers of their soft breathing filling the room. Mommy gives each a gentle kiss on the forehead and creeps out of the room.
And so Mommy makes her way to her room where Daddy is snoring softly. She climbs in bed beside him and snuggles against him. As she drifts off to sleep she thinks, does life get better than this?