I stand in my bedroom, folding clothes on autopilot while soft country music streams from the internet radio. How long have I been here? I started with three loads of laundry to fold, and now I am almost done. Aside from the country song, there’s no sound, which worries me because my two- and four-year-olds are in the next room over.
I enter the living room, and dread becomes reality. There they are, armed with a box of crayons, marking up every toy in sight, and who knows what else. “No…girls! What are you doing?”
Melanie throws her crayons to the floor and cowers behind our yellow armchair. Sylvia gives a goofy smile and holds her crayon high. “We coloring, Mommy! So pretty.” I force the muscles of my own smile into a rigid stare, then I take a deep breath and survey the damage. They got the Winnie-the-Pooh car, the dragon car, the kids table and chairs, and some spots on the wood floor, but I don’t see any wall or furniture damage. Okay, not as bad as I thought.
“Ladies, follow me.” Melanie pops up and follows close at my heels. Sylvia knows something is off but brings up the end of the line. I get to the kitchen, grab two wash clothes, dampen them under the faucet, and hand them out. “Ladies. We do not color on anything but paper. Melanie, you know better. You will both go clean up the crayon. Understand?” Melanie grumbles a little, but I give her a sharp look, and she shuffles back to the living room.
Sylvia turns and bobs down the hall, singing, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.”
I shake my head. When the kids are quiet and playing nicely, do not be fooled. It’s only the calm before another storm.