The kitchen is clean, the lunches are made, Episode 3 from Season 3 of Breaking Bad lays dormant within Netflix's belly. Maybe, if all goes well, the Episode 3 viewing will be followed by Episode 4 before I fall asleep on the couch.
The only impediment to Episodes 3 & 4 about a Chem teacher turned meth dealer (manufacturer!) are Things One & Two who lurk upstairs...far from dormant.
"Okay! Let's go! Toothbrushing! Chop-chop!"
Initially, they both comply. Shocking.
They have retrieved their toothbrushes from their holsters along the bathroom wall, applied the paste (Watermelon flavored toothpaste? Really?), and put in two short strokes along their lower left molars.
Then, it begins: Procrastination.
The Boy parks his toothbrush in his cheek, sucks off and swallows any cavity-preventing ingredients, and asks: "What are we doing this weekend?"
It's only Monday. We have no milk or bred for Tuesday's breakfast due to the short-sightedness which seems to accompany being a parent over 40. I'll be lucky if these kids are still alive on Wednesday. The weekend? He's got to be kidding.
"Sweetie, please. I don't know. Just brush up and let's get to bed, okay? Daddy's tired."
During this exchange, The Girl has, unlike her brother, avoided swallowing the toothpaste (she believes me when I tell her it's unhealthy). Instead she is leaning over the sink, using clenched teeth and saliva to create a Watermelon Colgate volcano.
"Okay! Enough! Finish up! It's bedtime!" I bark. (Later I will hypocritically remember my essays which pontificate about not sweating the small stuff. But, caught up in the moment, I'm determined to kill joy.
"Okay, go get your pyjamas on. I'll wait for you both in my room. If you hurry up there will still be time for story."
"Daddy, can you help me?" she puppy dogs.
"Okay. But quickly. Let's go."
"Race up the stairs, daddy!"
She puts her hands on the first step, waits for me to line up next to her. I know I'm going to lose - I'm clasping a small grouping of dirty laundry in my left hand, my balance is completely thrown.
"Hop up, munchkin." I motion to her bed, wooing her with a pyjama top like a matador to a bull...a bull measuring 4'2" at the shoulder with a braid flopping over the top of its head making it look like something out of a Julie Andrews movie.
She hops up. And then hops up and down and up and down and somersaults and leaps and flops. How does she not puke?
"Sweetie. That's enough. If you want me to help you, stand still. Otherwise I'll go put my own pyjamas on."
"Okay, okay!" She complies. Angry Birds pyjamas bottoms: on securely; Angry Birds pyjama top: successfully buttoned.
Sigh. "Gooooo." I sing-song.
While she tends to business and sings the accompanying on-the-potty set list, I call after The Boy:
"You ready for story?!"
"Kiddo? Are you coming?"
I head back downstairs to peak into his room.
He made it as far as pulling his pyjama bottoms around his ankles. His school t-shirt has not been removed, but he has had time to add several page-saving Post-Its to his book of science experiments.
"What are we doing this weekend?" he asks. Again.
"Buddy, I'm tired, your sister's tired..." (an outright lie) "...please get your pjs on and come for story."
I walk the flight back upstairs.
"Can we each pick a story?" they both ask in overlapping sentences.
"No. There's no time for two stories now. I warned you about that after supper: if there was too much goofing around, there would be less time for story."
I hate myself and the curmudgeon I've become. But there's not quite enough self-hatred to nullify my love for Breaking Bad. The kids are getting just one story.
"Can I chose?" she asks.
"Can I chose?" he asks.
"He chose yesterday!" she says (which is true).
"No I didn't." he replies (he and I both know he knows that's not true. But, I admire his effort - let the burden of proof be on the accuser).
"Daddy is choosing!" I insist in that infamous 'And that's final!' tone.
The each exhale a couple of syllables of complaint before I steal their momentum with:
"It's that, or nothing!"
Muffled grunts are close enough to silence. I proceed with my reading - two chapters of Mary Pope Osborne's "Magic Tree House" series. The language is advanced enough The Boy won't feel talked down to; the story is simple enough - and the chapters short enough - The Girl won't get bored.
I leave him in my bed with his Tin Tin book as I stretch my arms towards her, inviting her to be carried to her room.
"Carry me by my feet!" she squeaks.
"Sweetie, that's really hard on Daddy's back." Who am I? When did I become this person?
Sigh. Her room shares a wall with mine. Just get it over with.
With a 6-year-old suspended upside down over the upstairs landing, I walk the 8 feet to my daughter's bed room. I feel something cinch between my shoulder blades as I lift and lower her onto her bed.
I don't worry about the pain. I'll lie on the heating pad during Breaking Bad.
"Okay. A short one." Although, truthfully, our repertoire of bedtime sing-alongs does not include anything longer the 75 seconds. The exception being those nights she insists on singing an original composition - those can be opuses.
"Wait!" she blurts "I didn't pee!"
Pee. Song. Hug. Kiss. Goodnight.
Back into my room to collection the first born.
He outweighs his sister by 10 pounds. A piggy back is the best I can offer.
I drop him on his bed and pull the sheets up over his shoulders. As I lean in to kiss him, his head connects with my chin as he sits up to get out of bed and go to the bathroom.
Resigned, now, to watching only 1 episode of Breaking Bad, I sit silently staring at Casper the Guinea Pig while I wait for The Boy's return.
Casper is already asleep - no song, no story, no piggy back. Her parents must have been real disciplinarians.
The Boy returns. He shuffles back into bed; I once again draw the duvet over his shoulders.
"What if there were no gravity?" he asks.
We talk for a short while about the universe.
"What are we doing this weekend?" he asks.
"Sweetie, enough." I kiss him one last time. "Good night."
I walk in the dark towards his bedroom doorway.
"What?" I retort, somewhat impatiently.
"I love you."
He gets me with that every time.
"I love you, too."
"G'night" he sighs as he rolls over.
I press play on Episode 3.
By the time I wake up half an hour later, Walter is back living at home, Skyler has spilled the beans to a lawyer and is sleeping with Ted, Hank has turned down the job in El Paso, and Gus seems to have been able to delay the Mexican cousins from assassinating the series' hero.
I'll try again tomorrow.
At least my back is feeling better. The heating pad must've done some good.