1.   Shaymus is five; you've met him before. He has a mind for songs. Endless wonderfully bastardized versions of commercials, theme songs, top 40. I credit myself for this one; I used to rock him to sleep murmuring the Meow Mix song.   Shaymus, Shaymus, please deliver.  

One day he was kneeling over a coloring book, intent, ass in the air, singing so quietly I had to fake reasons for several more trips to the living room to catch all of it.   tampax, schmampax, gritty gritty grampax.   I always think my role in these situations is not to laugh, but it's better for him if I do. He laughs with me, or sticks out his tongue, he doesn't mind.

2.  Valentine's day night and we are home together. Suits us both. Shaymus's mom and dad are out enjoying carefully budgeted we-have-two-kids-now romance. We, on the other hand, have a playstation AND doritos.

Dinnertime means mac and cheese time. Shaymus, I say from the kitchen. Do you want lima beans.

Hell no, says Shaymus. He does not look up from beating the bad guy. I have become The Aunt Who Lets You Cuss. I didn't know he would learn that so soon.

3.   Bedtime. No, really, it's bedtime. Hey, look how much I am not kidding about this time for bed thing. Eventually it really happens and he is scrubbed and watered and read to and tucked in. This light off, that one left on. I get all the way to the door before it is Auntie tell me a story.

Shaymus. You said I could read you one instead of telling you one. Well I read one. Now you go to bed. That's the deal.

Yours are always better.

I am going to have to get a grip on my ego before he starts using it to wheedle bigger things than bedtime stories. I sit down again on his pokemon bedspread.

Do you want to know what is going to happen to you Shaymus? Yes he does, he expresses acute interest in what is going to happen. All right then I will tell. Listen up.

One of these days this girl is going to come get you. Not an ordinary girl but a princess, and you know what that means, that means she is not icky, she is RAD, she is one hundred percent cootie-free. Promise. Shaymus is reassured, he snuggles down.

Usually there would be much more to this but I see he is near sleep already, he only wanted my voice to stay with him a little longer. All right.

So she is going to kidnap you and take you to the palace. And it is the palace where you get to pick everything. If the walls are not the right color you can say hey, I don't like that, let's change it to be the right way. And ten painter guys will come running in and they will say What color would you like? and you will say...

Green, he says.

All right then green. They will have buckets of the best green paint, it's greener than grass in the summertime and greener than crayola and much much greener than lima beans. And they will start painting and they will be the fastest painters you have ever seen. You can help them paint if you want to and they will not even tell you to be careful because nobody cares if you make a mess because it is your palace.

Then it is dinnertime and you get to have whatever you want. Tonight the house special is moons. Does that sound delicious or would you prefer something else?

He is nearly asleep. Yeah, he says. Moons is good for eatin.

I stand up carefully so I won't wake him. Such a small head on the pillow, hair on end, pink face and sweaty neck already, this boy sleeps hard. Of course I stay there for a while by the bed. You would too.