“How’s life with three kids?” asks my friend, who has no children. I pour myself a glass of wine and consider my answer.
Last night for dinner we had tortellini, which, baked at four hundred degrees for forty-five minutes, came out half frozen. The baby had been sleeping in her swing but the eldest child, the four-year old, woke her up when she jumped off the couch, landing on the sharp corner of a wooden block, then shrieking in pain.
I grabbed an ice pack from the freezer but my wife, who had just come home, was upstairs changing out of work clothes so neither of us was able to intercept the middle child who toddled over to the baby's swing and smacked her on the head, something he'd been warned not to do. My wife and I don't believe in timeouts, so I grabbed the child by the arm, whisked him to the kitchen stool and told him to sit in timeout, which he neither liked nor understood. We believe in giving loving attention to our darlings, so I ignored the next fifty words out of the toddler's mouth, each of which was the question, "Why?"
I stopped the swing and picked up the baby. She wasn’t crying from the smack on the head but because she had pooped out the back of her diaper, all the way up to her neck. I lay her on the changing table and told the toddler his timeout was over but he was already pulling saucepans out of cabinets. I asked him to get into his seat, but that made him cry because the stool he needed to climb into his seat wasn't there; it was in the kitchen—where it was supposed to be—where he had just been sitting.
My wife came downstairs and helped the eldest child, still shrieking, into her seat. She spooned half frozen tortellini into a bowl but the child erupted because it was in a green bowl. She wanted the pink bowl, which was in the dishwasher. The middle child screamed that he wanted the green bowl. I was deep into the onesie cleanup, leaving my wife to explain that his sister had the green bowl but he could have the yellow bowl, which just made him scream louder. My wife slid the green bowl from the eldest child to the middle child, then scooped pasta into the yellow bowl and placed the yellow bowl in front of the eldest child, who shouted again for the pink bowl. We don't believe in responding to outbursts, so from across the room I yelled, "There is no pink bowl!" to which she replied, "Yes! There! Is!" and pushed the yellow bowl across the table, hitting her milk and spilling both milk and pasta onto the carpet.
I swirl the glass and take a sip. “Hmm,” I say to my friend. “This wine is quite nice.”
Greg Hill is a writer and voice over talent in West Hartford, Connecticut. He has an MFA from Vermont of College of Fine Arts, which, it turns out, means little to co-workers in a non-profit media company. His work has appeared in Black Heart Magazine; Queen Mob’s Teahouse; Work Literary Magazine; and elsewhere; and is forthcoming in Whiskey Island.