”Dad, come on,” sixteen-year-old Nolan practically begged.
“No,” Luke replied.
“It’s just gonna be a little one,” Nolan promised. He pulled off his sweater, and turned around in his chair. “Look, it’s gonna be right here,” he said and pointed at a place on his back, just below the shoulder blade.
“It’s still a no,” Luke said.
Fifteen-year-old Bailey entered the kitchen. “What are we talking about?” she asked.
“Tattoos,” Nolan said with a sigh.
“If he’s getting a tattoo then I wanna get my navel pierced!” she shrieked.
“For the...” Luke took a deep breath. “There will be no tattoos and no piercings. End of discussion. That’s it!”
Both teens groaned in protest.
Luke ignored them and poured himself another glass of heated milk. Many years ago he had found out that warm milk seemed to calm down his nerves. Since then there had been lots of glasses of milk. He bent down under the table and came eye-to-eye with his youngest daughter.
“Do you want some milk too?” he asked her.
Five-year-old Zoe just shook her head.
“Okay Honey, you just hang on to my leg,” he sighed, “Like you have...all day.”
Tomorrow was Zoe’s first day of Kindergarten. Something the five-year-old wasn’t so happy about. She pretty much ruled at day care centre, and now she was going to start at a new place, were there were older kids too. She wouldn’t be the oldest of the kids anymore, and she hated it. She was the youngest at home already.
“I’m not going,” she said firmly.
“Honey, you don’t have a choice,” Luke said and emptied his glass of milk.
“I can’t boss around old kids,” she said and squeezed her father’s leg harder.
“You shouldn’t be bossing around anyone,” Luke answered, “Besides, the older kids won’t be in your class.”
Zoe let go of the leg she had been clutching so tightly for the entire day. She crawled out from under the table and just stared at her dad with her mouth open. “So you mean there will only be five-year-olds in Kindergarten?”
Luke massaged his stiff leg, “Yes Honey, only five-year-olds,” he reassured her.
“AWESOME!” she screamed.
“But the older kids will still be there, at the playground,” Bailey reminded her sister.
Luke was about to tell his oldest daughter to be quiet when he felt his leg being squeezed again. ‘And we’re back to square one,’ he thought as he poured himself another glass of milk.
“Why can’t I get a tattoo?” Nolan desperately brought up the subject again.
“There will be NO tattoos,” Luke emphasized.
“All the guys on the team are getting their initials on their backs,” he explained. “Dad, come ooooon,” he pleaded.
“Nolan, no,” Luke warned.
“Dad, if you don’t let me get my navel pierced at a studio I have a friend who’ll do it for free,” Bailey said.
Luke nervously glanced at the clock. Why wasn’t Noah home yet?
All of a sudden ten-year-old Bryan came into the kitchen; his pants were muddy and his cheeks tear-stained. That stopped everything that had to do with tattoos, piercings and kindergartens.
“What happened?” everyone asked at the same time.
Bryan wiped his tears with his sleeve.
“How did you get home?” Luke crouched down in front of the boy. “I was supposed to come and pick you up after the basketball practice.”
“The pushed me,” Bryan cried.
“Who did?” Luke felt himself being close to tears.
“I’ll rip their heads off!” Nolan’s voice startled them all.
Luke felt nails digging into his leg under the table.
“No-one is going to...uh...rip heads off,” Luke tried to calm everyone down.
“Why not?” Nolan asked.
“Because I am going to call the parents of the kids who did this,” Luke explained.
Zoe crawled out from under the table. “Oh puh-lease dad, I say we get ‘em,” she said.
“YEAH!” both Nolan and Bailey said.
“Enough already,” Luke said. Then he took Bryan’s hand and led him to the bathroom, leaving his two teens arguing. Zoe had managed to find her way back to his leg again.
Luke sighed. He had managed to calm Bryan down, and the muddy pants were now in the washing machine. Zoe was still holding on to his leg, but that he could live with. Although he knew that the conversation about the tattoo with Nolan was far from over, and if that wasn’t enough now he had to worry about Bailey getting pierced by another teenager.
“Honey, I’m home,” he heard his husband’s voice from the hallway.
Luke hurried out to greet Noah. Zoe had to hold on for dear life.
“You’re home,” Luke stated. It wasn’t a pleasant tone. It was more like ‘IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!’
Noah didn’t seem to notice the bitch tone though.
“Yeah, just for ten minutes though. I gotta change, and then I’m meeting the guys from work, we’re gonna grab a drink at-“
“Oh no, you’re not,” Luke crossed his arms.
Noah looked confused. “But we are going to discuss budget proposals for the new movie...and...it’s going to be strictly professional-“
“No,” Luke repeated. He was getting really good at saying ‘no’. “You are going to call them and tell them you can’t make it.”
Noah opened his mouth to speak, but was quickly silenced by his husband.
“Bryan was pushed into a pool of mud; I need you to call the boys who did it, and talk to their parents. Bailey wants to get her navel pierced, and if we refuse to let her to it at a real studio she has a friend who’ll do it for her. You are going to tell her the dangers of infections, et cetera et cetera. Nolan wants to get a tattoo on his back, apparently all the guys on the team are doing it. Call his teammates’ parents for back-up-you’re gonna need it,” Luke sighed before he continued, “Then we have this little munchkin,” he motioned towards Zoe, who was still holding onto his leg. “She doesn’t want to start Kindergarten tomorrow.”
Noah just stared at his youngest daughter, while he was trying to progress all the information he just had received.
Luke shoved the phone into Noah’s hand. “Make the call to your work buddies first,” he said.
“Uh-uh,” Noah said.
“Honey, why don’t you hug your daddy’s leg now that he’s home?” Luke suggested.
Noah watched his daughter let go of Luke’s leg. She walked over to him and Noah winced in pain when he felt his leg being squeezed. The squeezing wasn’t so bad, it was the nails he had issues with.
“Oh, and by the way, Nolan was making death threats to ten-year-olds before. Talk to him about it, would you? He said something about ‘ripping heads off’,” Luke smiled, patted his husband on the back and turned around to leave.
“Where...you...where are you going?” Noah looked like a scared puppy.
“I’m going to soak up a nice, hot bath,” Luke said and left.