if you don't give me my dolls back i will never play with you again!
i'm sorry to hear that bella. alex, stop jumping on the bed or i'm going to take your trains away.
(i stand up, walk to alex's bed. as i approach he collapses and starts pretend snoring. i lean down and snatch his basket of trains. his body rises as do his trains in my hand, his visage racked with terror.)
NOOOOO! MY TRAINS! MY TRAINS!
not tonight they aren't.
BELLA (whispering as i walk out of the room)
don't worry alex, we'll get them back. (*)
(i secret the trains away and resume reading at my post)
we won't go to sleep! we will NEVER go to sleep! ever, ever again!
we're tough! tougher than you!
you're a ... a .... a .... a MARCHER!
with this shouted death-blow, bella slammed herself backwards from her sitting position and was sound asleep within two minutes. alex quietly sat sucking his thumb occasionally looking from me to bella. after accepting the loss of his leader, he flopped on his side and drifted away himself. after both kids had tapped out, i could still hear marty, face buried in her own pillow, trying to dampen the sound of her laughter from the newly coined MARCHER dig. while bella's crack was good, her crony's echoing it was even better.
while some think i'm weak for quietly enduring my children yelling children's insults at me, i had no time for injury because bella just taught alex another word (not a small achievement). and he enunciated it perfectly, vinegar and all. also, i'm no stranger to being harangued by passers-by while reading a book on the floor ("mr. dearmitt, please step into the hallway"). let's just say i've had leagues worse than MARCHER pitched into my mental tip tray.
(*) as for bella's clandestine instruction to alex, she is notorious for late night raids to recover lost toys and/or books. on her own, she is quite adept. many a time i've walked into their room to adjust covers before i go to bed and see her with baby darling, confiscated hours earlier, tightly head-locked in her meaty arm. now that she's recruited alex to the team, her black ops are foiled with much more frequency. problem is when alex gets excited he dances in place. that's what you hear first, the frenetic pattering of miniscule feet, flashdance-like, closely followed by bella scolding him with hushed commands. when i round the corner (i'm a bit of creeper myself) they freeze and eye me, trying to discern if i see them in the ill-lit passageway. when it dawns that i do, i know if they had the words they'd both utter in unison the single syllable 'shit'. but they certainly won't be using such invectives for a year or two, so instead they just shriek madly and dash towards their room. en route they ricochet off walls and elbow each other into doorjambs and furniture. after the rumpling crash into their beds, if you listen close, very close, there's more hushed scolding. and, none of this is lost on me. i know it's special to witness the training of a sith lord right in my very own home, even if the sith lord in training is feverishly sucking his thumb while receiving his sinister tutelage.