Jocelyn and Braden
Braden threw back the rest of his coffee. “I need to go.”
“You haven’t even had breakfast yet.” I frowned at the scrambled eggs and toast I’d made him.
“I’m sorry, babe, I’m late for this meeting.” He put his mug in the sink, leaned down to brush my lips with his and then rounded our kitchen island to kiss Luke and Beth on their foreheads. “See you all tonight.”
“Bye Dad!” they yelled after him as he hurried out of the kitchen. Luke immediately eyed the scrambled eggs Braden had left.
“Are you kidding me?” I snorted. My six year old had just eaten cereal, two slices of buttered toast and a handful of raisins for his breakfast. “Where do you put it?” I scraped most of the scrambled egg onto my plate but gave him the rest.
Luke frowned at the disproportionate portioning. “How come you got more?”
“Because she’s got a baby in her belly, silly,” Beth said with a superiority she liked to lord over her brother whenever she could. If she weren’t also incredibly overprotective of him and willing to play with him despite their three-year age gap, and not to mention charmingly adorable, I’d call my eldest an unbearable smartass.
That’s just what happened when two smartasses procreated I guess.
“Don’t call your brother silly,” I reminded her.
Beth sighed heavily, like she was ninety instead of nine. “Sorry. I’m just cranky because of this Valentine’s Day stuff at school.”
She also talked like she was ninety. That’s where the charmingly adorable part came into play. “What Valentine’s Day stuff?”
“We have to make a card for someone today and then give it to them.”
I bit back my laughter. “Well, baby, that’s what you do when you make a card for someone. You give it to them.”
“I don’t have to make a card,” Luke said with a mouthful of scrambled egg.
“Remember talking rule number five.”
He swallowed and grinned at me. “No talking to people dressed as Santa when it’s not December because it’s not really him because he’s in the Northern Pole and it’s a stranger portending to be Santa.”
“The North Pole,” Beth corrected him. “Pretending. And that’s rule number seven.”
I wrinkled my nose at my daughter. “You are cranky today, Miss Wite-Out.” I turned back to Luke. “Rule number five is no talking with your mouth full.”
He stuck his thumb up as he chewed, letting me know he got it.
“Back to you.” I leaned across the island and tucked Beth’s soft hair behind her little ear. “What’s the problem with the card thing?”
She shrugged. “What if I make a card for Aaron and he doesn’t make his for me?”
Aaron was this adorable kid a full head shorter than my kid who followed her around like a puppy dog and had done for the last year. They were ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’.
“I’m one hundred percent positive that Aaron will make his card for you, and it would be sad if he made a card for you and you didn’t for him. He’d be really upset.”
Beth stared at me, processing this like it had world importance, which we all knew at that age it kind of actually did. “Okay. Better feeling silly than hurting his feelings I s’pose.”
And another reason I adored my kid.
“Beth, you know you don’t have to make a Valentine’s Day card for anyone if you don’t want to, right?”
She nodded. “I want to.”
“Okay.” I looked at Luke who’d finished his scrambled egg and was now sitting with his head propped on his hand, his eyes half shut. “Oi, Narcoleptic Cool Hand Luke, let’s get you to school before we lose you to the land of nod.”
His eyes didn’t open all the way.
Beth grinned at me and leaned into her brother. She planted a big smack of a kiss on his cheek.
“Blech!” He jumped awake, rubbing at his cheek.
I almost peed my pants laughing at the comical, exaggerated expression of disgust on his face.
“I’m telling Dad when he gets home!” with that he jumped off his stool to go get his school bag.
As I walked around the island I held my hand out to Beth and she gave me a high five.
“So is it true Will, Bray, Sophia and Jarrod are staying tonight?” she said as we followed Luke out of the kitchen and into the hall.
We set about putting on our boots and coats. “Not for the whole night. But for most of it, yes. You okay with that?”
“I am!” Luke shouted, grinning.
He would be. Ellie’s son Will was only a year younger than him and the two of them were best buds. “Shocker.” I winked at him and he giggled.
“It’s fine.” Beth grumbled as we stepped outside and I locked up. “As long as I don’t get left with the babies.”
“Yeah.” I just stopped myself from rolling my eyes. “Because it would be responsible of me to leave my nine year old to look after a six month old.”
“I could do it,” she said, contrary. “I just don’t want to.”
“You are so my child,” I muttered as we headed to our Range Rover. We bought a car and a parking permit when I was pregnant with Beth. It was just one thing that had changed as Braden and I became parents. We could no longer rely on public transportation to get us around the city. It was too inconvenient when you had kids and most of our friends had discovered the same thing as we all grew into parenthood.
“I’ll help with Jarrod though,” Beth said as I pulled away and started driving down Dublin Street toward their primary school.
“And why Jarrod and not Bray and Sophia?”
“Because they’re toddlers now. They can handle life themselves. Jarrod’s just a wee baby.”
I grinned at her reasoning but decided not to correct her. “Okay, then we have a deal. You’ll help out with Jarrod tonight.”
“Yeah, but only until my bedtime.”
“Gotcha. But you know Jarrod’s bedtime is before yours.”
I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw her frown. “Does that mean I’m looking after him until his bedtime then?”
“Nappies and all.”
“Ugh.” She stuck out her tongue like a frog. “No thanks. I’ll take Sophia.”
“I thought you might say that. But it’s okay.” I gave her a quick grin. “We’ll just give Nappy Jarrod to your dad.”