Thumb wrestling / by Susie Lubell

The only reason I did not completely lose my shit after tonight's ritual tantrum was because I could see it coming after a very long and fun-packed day. The poor kid was exhausted. My husband, however, got the hell out of there the minute he could feel the flood waters swelling. Not a bad choice.

It was a busy day. We rode bikes over to our friends' house this morning to pick the vegetables in their garden while they're away. They've been gone for a month and it's tomato and cucumber harvest time so instead of going to the farmer's market we went to the Eilat household and picked ourselves a mondosalad. I like to make up words.

Then we get home and have lunch and my husband takes our son to his friend's birthday party at a gymnastics place where they run around for two hours before they eat cake. Then I pick him up with our daughter and take them to birthday party number two at a place where the kids jump in a jumpy house and slide down jumpy slides for two hours and then eat pizza and cake. We drive home and my husband then chases the kids around the house for an hour while I'm making a normal dinner. So by the time it's time for bed, I know this kid is wrecked though he appears to be keeping it all together to my astonishment. I was sure he would fall asleep during dinner.

So everyone's in bed in their undies because it's hot as all blazes in our house and the rest of northern California and instead of sitting right next to my son's bed and in front of my daughter's bed (they make a right angle and I sit in the middle), I'm sitting toward the end of my daughter's bed and my husband is sitting in the middle. This does not sit well for my son and he asks for a switch because he wants to hold my thumb while I sing. Fair enough. We switch but then he starts twitching around and putting his legs on the wall and generally being squirrely. It's not until the second song that he realizes that he forgot to hold my thumb during the first song. So he wants me to start over to which I refuse (the first song is long). But instead of holding my thumb for the next three songs he proceeds to sob about wanting me to start over. Why? Knowing you missed one opportunity, why would you then will yourself to miss the next three also? I offered the thumb but he was too busy begging me to go back. I vowed long ago to abandon the do-over. I couldn't give in. Finally I finished the songs and he was still quietly boo-hooing when I left. Poor guy. A tortured kid like that with back-to-back birthday parties...he never had a chance.