Daddy’s Little Helpers
“Walker, that toilet’s running again!” Alex called from the bathroom where she was washing the twins in the bathtub. JC, short for James Cordell, and Jessie, short for Jessica Alexandra, were getting more soap and water on Alex than on themselves. She smiled down at the two of them with affection. There was never a dull moment around the Walker house since they had made their appearance four years ago.
Walker’s head appeared in the doorway. “What did you say, Alex?” He asked, a little annoyance showing in his tone. He was trying to finish putting together the new beds they had gotten for the twins, and this was the fifth time she had interrupted him.
Alex nodded toward the toilet. “The water keeps running like that, and our well is going to be dry soon.”
“I know, I know.” Walker sighed as he lifted the ceramic top and reached in the tank to jiggle the float. He carefully replaced the heavy lid, and asked if she needed anything else.
Alex stood up and reflexively rubbed her sore back. At eight months pregnant she was very large with what would be their second set of twins. She accidentally caught a glimpse of herself in the bathroom mirror.
“Oh, my God, Walker!” She suddenly began to cry. “I look like a Hippo!”
Startled be her sudden change in mood, Walker was taken aback. “You…No, Alex….you don’t look like a hippo…” He stuttered.
“Well then, what do I look like?” She demanded.
His mind still on the animal analogy, and trying to think of a slender animal, Walker blurted out, “You look like a Giraffe!”
Alex’s face clouded, and he knew immediately he had said the wrong thing. But, before he could reassure her that she looked beautiful to him, she turned on her heel and began to leave the room.
“You can get your little long-necked, spotted critters out of the tub, Mr. Zookeeper. I’m going to get ready for Josie’s shower!”
Sighing, Walker smiled down at JC and Jessie. Their little blue eyes sparkled back at him, and he shook his head in wonder. They sure had been blessed with a beautiful family he thought. Taking up a large towel, he winked at them.
“Who wants to go flying first?” he asked.
Jessie squealed and cried, “Me first Daddy, me first!”
Walker scooped her out of the tub and into the towel. As he swung her around and up and down, he deftly dried her off. Carrying her over to the big bed in his and Alex’s bedroom he asked: “Smooth or rough landing?”
Jessie giggled. “Rough landing!”
Walker grinned. Jessie always wanted the rough landing. She was the adventurer, taking after her dad. He swung her back and forth a couple of times, and then let her go to land on the soft mattress in a laughing heap. Walker peeked back over his shoulder to check on JC who was standing outside the tub eagerly awaiting his turn.
“Clear the landing zone,” he advised Jessie, who scooted off the bed. Going back to the bathroom, Walker repeated the flight routine with his son. He and Alex had discovered long ago that this game really worked to get them out of the tub.
After the twins were dressed, they all went downstairs to find Alex. She was just picking up her keys to head out.
“Honey, you sure you don’t want me to drive you?” Walker asked.
Alex gave him “the look” as he had begun to call it. It meant he had said something wrong again. “What, am I too big to fit behind the wheel now?” she retorted.
Walker’s face became serious, and he walked over and gathered his wife in his arms. He kissed her softly and held her, gently rubbing her back.
“Baby,” he used his special name for her, “you are more beautiful to me each day. I thank God for you and our wonderful children.” He looked down at her burgeoning abdomen and lightly ran his hand over it. “All our children Alex. I love all of you!”
Alex relaxed in his arms. “I am so sorry, honey.” She whispered in his ear. “I can’t seem to help myself these days, I just snap at everything and everybody.”
In response Walker just held her more closely, wordlessly letting her know that all was forgiven, and right with their world. They both grinned when they felt the touch of little hands around their legs. JC and Jessie were hugging them too.
“Okay, GROUP HUG!” Walker announced, and they all began laughing and hugging for all they were worth.
“Mommy feel better?” JC asked. Alex knelt down and gave her little boy a tight hug and kiss.
“Yes, Mommy is all better!” She assured him. Standing up, she gave Walker and Jessie, who was held in her father’s arms, a goodbye kiss. “I will see you guys later.” She said. She began to walk out the door, but stopped and turned around. “Walker, don’t forget to finish getting those beds together. You’ve been working on that all day!”
Before he could reply, she turned and exited. Walker could hear her chuckling as she moved down the steps to the driveway. Very funny, he said to himself.
“Well, guys,” he said to the twins, “what would you like to do now?”
“Playdough!” They both shouted at once. They had received a large amount of said material from their Uncle Jimmy for their birthday a few days ago. For some reason Alex had yet to let them play with it. Walker figured it would keep them quiet for a little while until he could get their beds put together.
He sat them at a small table in the master bedroom, while he worked on their beds in the adjacent room. That way he could hear them. They made him a pretend pizza, a hamburger, and a cookie. Walker dutifully pretended to eat each item as it was presented. He hadn’t really got much work done, before they were both standing next to him.
Jessie started pulling on the torn edge of the carpet. Their black lab Ranger had decided that the one corner was for his chewing pleasure, and it had taken Walker a few weeks to disabuse him of that notion.
“Jessie, don’t pull on the carpet, hon.” Walker said. “Daddy is going to buy you a new one soon.”
“What color?” Jessie asked.
“What color would you like?” Walker asked. When she mentioned several colors, Walker got an idea. "Why don’t you and JC use your playdough to make some examples of what you want?” He smiled brightly when they enthusiastically agreed. Good thinking, he thought to himself. You are really getting the hang of this father stuff. He went back to work.
Several minutes later he finished the first bed. Standing up and stretching, he realized he hadn’t heard much from the next room. He figured the twins had gotten tired and stretched out on Mom and Dad’s bed for a nap. He started to stroll into the bedroom, but stopped short. His eyes widened in disbelief.
“What….what….what did you guys do?” he asked in shock. The twins were walking around the floor, blissfully unaware of their father’s discomfort.
“We made you and Mommy a carpet!” JC proudly said. And indeed they had. Spread all over the carpeted floor was a layer of brightly colored playdough. In order to make it flat, the twins were walking on it, grinding it into the carpet. Walker stared at it, at them, in shock.
“Alex is going to kill me!” The words flooded to his consciousness. But, before he could do anything, the doorbell rang. Stepping gingerly over the playdough carpet, he scooped up the twins and carried them downstairs to answer the doorbell. When he opened the door, his partner, their Uncle Jimmy, stood smiling there.
“Hey, guys!” He said brightly.
Walker stood aside and let him in. When he put the twins down they ran happily into Trivette’s arms, hugging and kissing.
“How’s my favorite rugrats?” he asked innocently. Walker winced at his choice of words.
“They are fine,” he said, “but I am a dead man when Alex gets home. And it’s all YOUR fault.” He glowered at Trivette.
“What?” Trivette responded with a look of surprise.
Walker sighed. It really wasn’t Trivette’s fault. “I let them play with the playdough you got them for their birthday. They made a new carpet for our bedroom.”
Trivette looked at him a moment before understanding set in. “You mean literally,” he said grimly.
“Oh, yeah,” Walker replied. “Very literally.”
Walker quickly took Trivette upstairs to survey the damage. The two men decided that Trivette would watch the kids while Walker tried to clean up the mess. Jimmy took the twins into the kitchen, and Walker began to pry up globs of the sticky playdough off the carpeting. He got as much as he could up, and then tried vacuuming. All that seemed to accomplish was to spread the stuff into even smaller pieces. He sat back against the wall surveying the millions of pieces of green, red, yellow, and blue. And you want two more kids? He chided himself. Finally, he managed to vacuum and sweep up most of the colored mess. Tired and sore, he walked down to the kitchen.
He walked in and stopped. There in front of him was another mess! JC had chocolate ice cream coating the lower part of his face. Jessie was spreading whip cream all over her small bowl of ice cream. Walker knew if she ate all that she’d be sick for a week. And, Uncle Jimmy was vainly using a dishcloth to try to clean up something off the floor. Walker looked down at the light brown liquid his shoe was in. He picked up his foot, and the liquid stuck to his shoe, slowly dripping to the floor.
He looked at Trivette. “Caramel syrup?”
“Trivette…..” Walker began.
“They were hungry!” Trivette explained quickly. He looked at the mess around him. “Somehow things got out of hand…” He looked so perplexed that Walker had to laugh. The twins and Jimmy soon joined in.
“Daddy, I have a beard just like you!” JC explained his chocolate face. Walker smiled proudly at his son.
“That you do partner.” He said. “But, not for long. Mommy would not approve!” He said as he began to wipe some of the mess off. Trivette managed to distract Jessie away from the gargantuan whip cream mound she had made, and hosed her down in the sink.
“I think we better give them another bath,” Walker said. He and Trivette carried the twins upstairs. As Jimmy was running the bathwater, the phone rang. Walker talked for a few minutes, then called to Jimmy.
“Trivette, turn the water off and come here a minute. I need to ask you something.”
Jimmy grinned at JC and poked him gently. “Promise to stay put, and stay out of trouble?” he asked the youngster.
“Sure!” JC replied.
Trivette strode down the hall to talk with Walker. Seconds later they heard a loud bang. Looking toward the bathroom, they saw a river of water crest the doorway and begin to flow down the hall. Without saying goodbye, Walker slammed down the phone and headed down the hall. Jimmy, hurrying to catch up with him, slipped in the water and plunged forward into Walker’s legs sending them both sprawling to the floor. Dripping wet, Walker struggled to his feet, and after giving Trivette a “you’re a dead man” look, finally reached the bathroom. JC and his sister were standing in the tub grinning.
“The toilet was running Daddy, and I fixed it just like I saw you do.” Jessie said proudly. Walker looked at the toilet. The back had been taken off, but when it had proven too heavy for Jessie to hold, she had dropped it into the tank, shattering a hole into the bottom where the water was pouring out. He fumbled under the tank, finally finding the water shutoff valve and turned it. The water bubbled and then stopped.
Closing his eyes, and saying a silent prayer for patience, Walker looked at his children. Then he looked at the bedraggled form of his partner as he slumped at the door. Finally, summoning his last shred of patience, he smiled grimly.
“Yes, Jessie, you did try to help. But, that job was too big for you and you could have gotten hurt. Now, promise Daddy that you won’t try that again.” He smiled reassuredly at his daughter. Eyes wide, she nodded her head and promised.
“Trivette, take this,” Walker pulled out his soggy wallet and extricated a credit card. “Go to that hardware store about a mile down the road, and get a new toilet. I’ll get these guys cleaned up, and bail out my house.” He said, emphasizing the last four words.
Trivette quickly took the card and streaked from the house, glad he had escaped unharmed.
Walker bathed the twins and dressed them in their pajamas. “Do you think you guys can both sleep in Jessie’s bed tonight?” He asked. “Daddy didn’t quite finish the other bed today.”
They enthusiastically agreed, and Walker tucked them in, kissing each one softly. He read them a short story about Noah and the Flood, which he thought was very appropriate for today. They both drifted quickly off to sleep. Probably dreaming of playdough, Walker thought to himself as he closed the door.
He surveyed the wet hallway, and was about to go get a mop when Trivette grunted up the stairs carrying a new toilet and tank. “You had to buy the whole thing.” He explained as Walker just looked at him.
The two men quickly removed the old toilet, and attached the new one. By the time they had finished cleaning up the whole mess, Jimmy had to go, and it was almost time for Alex to return. Walker removed his damp shirt and jeans. He took a short shower and went downstairs. He sank gratefully into the recliner, sighed and closed his eyes. The doorknob turned, and in walked Alex looking beautiful, but tired.
Seeing Walker in the recliner, she frowned. “Where are the twins?” She asked.
“Asleep in bed,” Walker replied. “We had a …..uh, interesting day.”
“Well, that’s good.” Alex said. “I am just going to give them a kiss goodnight.” She trotted up the steps, and Walker followed going straight to their bedroom. A moment later she came into their bedroom.
“Walker, you had all day to put together those beds, and you only got one done?” she immediately asked.
Walker pulled off his shirt and smiled sweetly at her. “Just got distracted I guess.”he shrugged helplessly.
Alex’s eyebrows arched as she looked at him. There is something he is not telling me she thought distractedly. Instead of demanding what it was, she turned and went into the bathroom. A few minutes later wearing a nightgown, she returned. The room was dark, and as she pulled back the covers to slip in bed, she said, “Walker, did you put in a new toilet? It seems different….”
Walker smiled to himself. “Yeah, hon,” he said sleepily. “I figured it needed it, so why not?”
Okay, Alex thought to herself. I guess he was in a toilet fixing mood, and not a bed building mood. She stretched out on the sheets, and cringed. Jumping out of bed she threw back the covers with a small scream. Walker sat up and turned the lamp on.
“What is it?” He asked.
“There is something in our bed,” Alex said. “It’s all crunchy like sand or gravel!”
Walker pulled the covers back a little more and looked. Detecting the bright green, yellow, red, and blue colors, he understood immediately. He broke into a belly laugh.
Alex looked at her husband in dismay. “What is so funny?” She demanded.
“Alex,” Walker managed to get out between spells of laughter, “the twins just made you a blanket, that’s all!”