Hey there, everyone! I told you a little one-shot was coming and here it is! It's all about Joe, by the way. I wanted to give him some spotlight even though it might not be something he'd want spotlighted. This is dedicated to any and all parents out there whether you're a mom, dad, grandparent, etc. We all have our moments and believe me, I have them a lot with my two girls. My almost 2 year old could definitely be an accomplice or even a leader in mischief while my 7 year old has her own moments. I feel there is a parent out there who can relate to what Joe is about to go through though. Enjoy!
"Joe?" Vanessa replied as she gathered her keys and purse to leave. "I'll be gone for a few hours. Are you sure you'll be okay with the boys?"
"Oh, yeah," he said waving his hand. He grinned at his wife which made her a little uneasy at the prospect of leaving him alone with their two young sons. "We'll have a great ol' time! Play some video games, watch a few violent movies, drink some beer."
"Don't worry. I got this, Van," Joe said calmly. He took her in his arms and kissed her passionately. She dropped her keys and purse on the floor as he brought her closer to him. They would have gone further had it not been for CJ who patted his father's leg. He looked down at his son who grinned up at him showing off the few teeth that he had. "Spoil sport."
"You are so bad," Vanessa said breathlessly, straightening her blouse. "We'll finish that later."
She picked up their oldest son and carried him toward the living room where eight month old William sat playing. The house was decorated for Halloween with the air of the holiday season quickly approaching. Vanessa was going out to finalize the measurements on her matron-of-honor gown for Frank and Nancy's wedding which was a mere two weeks away. She was also picking up CJ's and William's tiny suits for their own roles.
Suddenly Vanessa stopped, holding her hand over her mouth as if to stop the contents of her stomach coming back up. Quickly she handed CJ to Joe before she dropped him and rushed to the downstairs powder room. He could hear her retching and set CJ down in the circular gated play area they had for the boys.
"Van, honey?" Joe asked knocking on the door. "You okay?"
She moaned then muttered something incoherent. Joe opened the door the moment Vanessa flushed the toilet. He watched her with concern as she washed her hands and rinsed out her mouth.
"I hate being pregnant," she mumbled miserably, wiping her mouth. Vanessa glared at him in the mirror, her face pasty. "I blame you, you know."
"Hey, it took both of us so don't just blame me," Joe said holding his hands up defensively. He wrapped his arms around her waist, settling his chin on her shoulder. He stared lovingly at her reflection. "Did I ever tell you how beautiful you look when you're pregnant?"
"Nice," she smirked. "Trying to butter me up, are you? Please tell me this is the last one, Joe."
"We never really discussed how many kids we were going to have, Van," he replied. "I would have been okay with just the two we have."
"It's a little late to be discussing this, Joe," she retorted. Vanessa looked at her watch and gasped. "I'm late!"
She rushed out of the bathroom, grabbing her purse and keys once more as she passed them. Kissing Joe on the cheek, Vanessa waved goodbye.
"Please keep an eye on them," she warned. "CJ is the escape artist, just like you. He knows when you're not looking. Oh, my gosh, I'll be so glad when this wedding is over. Then I won't be so frazzled."
"But you're not getting married, Van," Joe laughed at the door. He waved as she went over to her car. "Worry about yourself for now, hon!"
"You know I won't," she waved. Her face turned serious. "I mean it, Joe! Don't take your eyes off the boys!"
Moments later, the car pulled out of the driveway and soon disappeared from view. Joe sighed, closing the front door. He didn't understand why Vanessa was so adamant about watching the boys like a hawk. He went back into the living room where both his sons were and plopped down onto the couch. William was still playing in front of the TV while CJ was in the corner of the gated area, his back to Joe.
"So, what are we going to do while Mommy's gone?" he asked William. The baby made a raspberry and smiled a nearly toothless grin. Joe reached for the remote and turned the TV on. "Who's ready for some football?" he crowed loudly.
Saturday afternoons in late October never disappointed pigskin fans and sure enough, a brutal game was going on between two top ranked college teams. Joe was soon yelling at the TV whenever a bad call was made or the team he didn't like scored.
"That wasn't pass interference!" he yelled, pointing to the TV. "More like offensive pass interference, you blind moron!"
Soon after he was yelling again as the team he hated scored because of the bad call. Grumbling, he made sure the boys were secure and left the room to grab a bite to eat. It was halftime so he had just enough time to get the boys' lunches ready as well as his own. Although CJ could have regular food cut up with the little sharp chompers he had, William was still on baby food and a bottle.
After preparing William's food, Joe noticed the flour sitting on the counter, reminiscent of the cookies Vanessa had made the day before. Not knowing where to put the bag, he stuffed it into a lower cupboard and walked back into the living room to get the baby. Joe stopped dead in his track, his eyes going wide at the sight before him. He didn't think he was gone long enough for his sons to get into trouble. Boy, was he wrong.
William looked up at him innocently, his face filled with black marks and scribbles. Joe looked around for CJ and that was when he noticed markings all over the lower part of the walls. His eyes moved to the TV and his jaw dropped lower. Part of the TV had scribbles as well as the stand it was on. CJ was still nowhere to be seen.
Joe picked up William who didn't seem to be phased one bit by the fact that he was covered in markings including his slightly bald head. "What the hell?" Joe cried, rushing back into the kitchen. He nearly dropped William as he slipped on something and looked down. "Oh, no."
The floor was covered in white powder with little hand and footprints dotting it. The walls and the island were also covered in black marks. Joe knew immediately what the white powder was for he had just put it away minutes before. As he walked around the island, William dangling precariously from his arm, Joe finally came across the culprit. CJ sat on the floor covered from head to toe in flour though Joe could still see black marks up and down the toddler's body. The boy grinned up at his father in what Joe considered an evil grin, laughing as he threw flour in the air with his empty hand. In his other hand was the other "culprit" in this fiasco: a black permanent marker, the cap discarded long before.
CJ got up off the floor, dropping the marker and walked over to his father. All Joe could see were his son's bright blue eyes shining up at him, nearly the only thing CJ couldn't color with the marker. As best he could, Joe scooped up the toddler with his other arm and rushed up the stairs to get to the bathroom with a tub. He checked the time as he passed the clock and sighed. Vanessa could be home any minute and he had no idea how he was going to clean the mess up before she did.
Stripping down the boys to their diapers, Joe discarded the soiled clothes then got out his phone to Google how to get permanent marker off of skin. He found the nail polish remover in one of Vanessa's many baskets and a bag of cotton balls. Before long he was scrubbing down a squirming William while keeping an eye on CJ at the same time.
"They'll be easy, she said," Joe muttered as he scrubbed, the marks very slowly coming off. "Just watch them, she said. She didn't tell me you were the spawn of Satan, CJ!"
The toddler laughed as he played with the bath toys nearby though Joe felt he was laughing at him. William started to fuss, his tummy hurting from hunger. Joe knew the food was getting cold downstairs but it was more important to him to clean up the mess of his kids than to deal with the wrath of his pregnant wife.
Finally William was clean from the marks and Joe took off the diaper as the tub filled with soapy water. The desperate father gently placed the baby in the tub before moving on to CJ who was worse looking than his brother. It took another twenty minutes to clean CJ then placed the toddler in the bathtub before Joe was even able to deal with the downstairs.
He quickly washed his sons then redressed them in new outfits before taking them downstairs for lunch. As CJ ate his food with his fingers, Joe hastily fed William though it made a bigger mess and he sighed realizing he had to give the baby yet another bath.
Joe ran through the house and up the stairs with both boys, putting CJ in his crib for an afternoon nap. William screamed his head off as he endured another bath, redress, and unfortunately for Joe, a poopy diaper. By the time Joe was finished with his sons and they were down for their naps, it had been several hours since Vanessa left, his time alone to clean up quickly diminishing. But his work was not done.
He rushed down the stairs two at a time and grabbed the broom out of the closet. Joe swiftly swept up the flour off the floor dumping it into the trash can before attacking the walls. He opened Google again this time on how to get permanent marker out of the carpets, walls, and flooring. In all the time he was rushing around in the kitchen, Joe never heard the front door open or the gasp in shock that echoed slightly in the foyer.
She watched from the doorway as he scrubbed the floors, only his feet and butt sticking out the side of the island. Vanessa tried her best not to say anything, her arms folded in front of her as she watched her husband frantically try to clean up a mess that only a toddler could do. She wasn't angry for she knew leaving her sons home with her husband on a fall Saturday afternoon would only end in disaster but she hardly had a choice. Her mother was out of town for the weekend but Vanessa also wanted to see if Joe could handle the boys on his own. He failed….miserably. But again she couldn't be mad at him for it was karma that was settling in.
Clearing her throat, Vanessa nearly burst out laughing as she saw Joe tense up slightly, then poke his head over the top of the island. His blue eyes went wide when he saw his wife then he tried to put on his best smile, teeth sparkling in the light.
"Van!" he said smoothly. "You're home already! I just thought I'd clean up a bit."
"Clean up what exactly," she said with a sarcastic smile.
Joe bit his lip as if trying to find an excuse to tell her. Then he smiled one of his most charming smiles hoping to take the edge off. "I thought it would be a surprise to clean up for you," he stated. "You left the flour on the counter and wouldn't you know it the darn thing fell off the counter. I'm just cleaning up the remnants."
"Nice," Vanessa nodded. "I appreciate that, Joe. I'm impressed."
"Thanks," he smiled again. "I thought you'd like that."
"Where are the boys?"
"They're in bed," Joe replied proudly. "They had their lunch and I even gave them their baths already. It was a really good day."
"Did you forget something, Joe?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. He looked innocently at her, trying to look like he didn't know anything.
"What…what do you mean?"
She held up the permanent marker with the missing cap and the color instantly drained from Joe's face. "You wouldn't happen to know why my living room looks like a modern art canvas complete with tiny fingerprints on my couch, would you?"
Joe gulped as he finally stood up. Vanessa could smell the alcohol based cleaners emanating from him even though he washed his hands after cleaning up the boys. He looked guilty and he knew he got caught.
"You took your eyes off CJ, didn't you?"
"Yes," Joe replied softly looking away like a puppy in trouble. "But I have an excuse!"
"Okay," she said folding her arms in front of her again. "What is it this time?"
"Yup," Joe nodded. "They put me under a spell so I couldn't move and…and you're not buying it, are you?"
"Nope," Vanessa shook her head. "Aliens? Seriously? That's the best you could do?"
"It was the first thing that came into my head, okay!" he cried back. "I literally left them for five minutes and this is what happened! I was getting their lunch ready during halftime and I came back and…and… I'm never going to hear the end of this, am I?"
"Nope," she said walking away.
"Are you going to help me?" he cried at her receding frame.
"You're not going to tell Frank are you?"
"Calling him right now."
"Oh, come on!" he cried loudly as she went upstairs. "Where's the love?"
"It's not coming tonight that's for sure."
Grumbling, Joe went back to his cleaning, the pace severely slowed since a deadline was no longer imminent. He shook his head and knew this was going to go down as the largest, most epic failure in parenting in history. Joe was never going to hear the end of it either.