Sunday, August 9, 2015

5:00 a.m.




Batman flew through the air, hitting the wall with a nasty thud.  As he fell to the ground, Batman left a big, gaping hole.  Ben looked over at his sleeping brothers and decided to wake them up and show them the uh-oh. Batman was in trouble.  Batman was bad.

“Steve!”  Ben shouted.  “Look!”

Steve turned over in his crib, looking at the wall.  His eyes were small slits and he yawned.  Slowly, the fuzz went away and he looked at Ben, who was pointing at the wall.  Steve's eyes surveyed the giant  white space, its two bookshelves and hanging TV.  When he saw the hole, he smiled. 

“What happened?” 

Standing up on his mattress, he held on to his crib rail.  He knew better than to get out of bed before Mama came in; he would be in deep trouble if he made that choice. 

Next to him, Ben was taller than Steve.  They were born on the same day, but Ben was taller, faster, stronger and (at least this morning) more stinky. Steve wondered if that was why Ben woke up first; his pants were full of doo-doo.  

Steve loved the way Mama would smile and say that.  Sometimes she would poke their belly buttons with her shiny finger when she asked them, “ Are your pants full of doo-doo?”   

“What happened?” Steve repeated; Ben was still staring at the hole.  Ben finally looked at him and raised his eyebrows.

“Batman flew into the wall!”

Their laughter woke Robert, who stood in his crib immediately.  Upon seeing his brothers laughing, he jumped up and down. 

“Ba! Ba! Ba!”  His tongue dangled out of his mouth. Robert wanted to keep his brothers laughing, but he suddenly stopped; he could smell doo-doo.  He felt the underside of his pajamas for moisture or lumps. 

“Rob, LOOK!” Ben pointed at the hole in the wall.  Robert looked up, satisfied that his own pants weren’t filled.  Both of his brothers were pointing at the wall; his view was slightly obstructed by a bookshelf.

“What?”

“Look!”

Climbing over the rail, Rob hit the floor and ran over to Steve.  Steve shook his head wildly and tried to correct his brother; it was no use.  Robert ran up to the wall and pointed at the hole.

“Bad! Who did that?”  In almost the same breath, both Steve and Ben shouted an answer.  From Steve came: “Ben did it!”  From Ben came: “Give me Batman!”

Robert looked down and saw the plastic toy figure at his feet, regarded it carefully and then looked up at his brothers.  Steve was motioning toward his crib, warning him - with the motion that their Mama used – to get back in.  Ben had pleading eyes, his arm was outstretched toward Batman.  

Robert reached down and picked it up and walked it over to Ben, who smelled ripe and stinky.  Ben grabbed it quickly from his hand  and sat down with a squish.  It was then that Robert heard the toilet flush; Mama was awake. He would be in trouble if she found him out of his crib. Steve heard it,too; he started to panic.

"Get back in!  She's coming!"

“Ok,” Robert said.  He ran toward his crib and attempted to get back in as fast as he could.  In a panic, he twisted his foot  so that it got caught between the slats.  He tried to hoist himself, but his foot would not come loose.  “OW!” he cried.  Hot, fat tears accompanied the pinching pain; Steve began to cry, panicked that it was happening again.  He fell down on his mattress, shoved his face into his pillow and pretended to be asleep.  He could hear Mama’s footsteps.

In between playing with Batman and watching Steve cry, Ben saw his brother, foot caught in the terrible crib and decided to help him.  He threw one leg over the rail and slid down, his sagging diaper drooping more as he moved.  By the time he made it over to his crying brother, the dirty disposable  mess had come loose and landed, doo-doo side up, in the middle of the floor.  The majority of his poo clung to his bare bottom, like peanut butter on white bread. 

Robert, even in pain, did not want to be helped by his dirty-bottomed brother.  He kicked at him with his free foot, crying desperately for the pain in the other to stop.  

It was this scene that Mama saw when she opened to door:  

In one crib, a sobbing child pretended to be asleep.  In the middle of the floor, a dirty diaper lay doo-doo side up (thank God).  Another child had his foot lodged between his crib slats for the third time this week (for this reason, she didn't panic). Her remaining child was crying, holding his bruised arm and sporting a bottom smeared with feces.  It was this child she decided to attend to first.

“Good morning, Ben,” Mama talked in her robot voice.  The voice was neither angry nor happy; it was the morning voice that hadn't had coffee. She scooped up her child under the arms, bringing him into the adjoining bathroom.  “Bath time!”

For a moment, her child objected, through tears.  “We haven’t had dinner!  I haven’t even had cereal!”

As she set him in the tub, she warned him not to move.  He saw the look in her eye and decided to obey.  She went back for Robert, whose foot easily became dislodged with her help.  His tears soon dried up and he was trying to tell her something about the wall, but she carried him to the bathroom, in a foggy daze.  

Steve, from his crib, now realized he would have to scream to get Mama’s attention, from his place in the bedroom.  Through his tears he heard the water running, the cries of his brothers and his Mama’s voice, saying “Just do it!”

He cried and cried, before seeing her  return to him.  Her face was pink and pretty and he wanted her more than ever.  She picked him up and took him into the bathroom, where he tried to keep clinging to her.  It was only when he saw that the bathtub basketball game was set up that he let go of her neck.

He looked over at Ben, who sat in the sink, bottom being washed by the slow tap.  He imagined the warm water breaking up the smeared doo-doo and washing it down the drain.  He had sat in the same sink, in the same position, for the same offense many times.

It wasn’t until naptime that Mama found the hole in the wall.  She looked at her silent sons, who seemed to have forgotten all about the events that caused it.  By the time Daddy got home, she had already spackled it.

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