Avery woke up at 7:30am with a piece of paper tied to her finger. “Don’t panic,” it started, “I took Arthur to school. Sleep in.”
Avery would have loved to sleep in, but she knew that Bradley’s note was lying, or at the very least hadn’t come to fruition quite yet. Down the hall came the echoing voice of four-year old Arthur saying, “No, but I can’t.”
As Avery padded barefoot down the hall to the bathroom next to Arthur’s room, she heard Bradley’s still calm yet getting exasperated voice. “Arthur, you have to wear pants to go to school. It’s the rules.”
“No, but I can’t,” Arthur repeated, this time with the little slap of barefooted stomping on the tile floor. Avery peeked around the edge of the door carefully so she could see them but Arthur wouldn’t look up and see her. Bradley was holding up two pairs of Arthur’s favorite pants, clearly giving him the option of even mismatching pants in an attempt to have him wear anything on his lower half.
Arthur, for his part, was standing there ready to go outside with a coat and hat and everything, expect for his bare legs and feet underneath Superman underwear. Arthur’s hatred of pants was a new development in the last two weeks. Everyone had like it a lot better when Arthur just stubbornly refused to wear a hat. They could take him out without a hat on—Pants, that was a different story. They got weird enough looks without looking like they couldn’t afford to put their child in pants.
She could just see the reflection of Bradley’s face in the mirror as he looked up to check the time. He was nearing the end of his early morning rope. The next step was going to be—
“Arthur, do you want to make a deal?”
Bribery—right on schedule.
“What’s deal?” Arthur crossed his arms over his chest.
“If you put on the blue pants,”
“No! I can’t!”
“Hey, hey, listen. We’ll go out and have a cookie in the car. If you put on blue pants, we’ll have a cookie in the car. Deal?”
Avery suppressed a laugh as she watched Arthur reach up and tap his lips with his finger, a gesture Avery knew that she and her sister were both guilty of while they were thinking. “Okay. Pants, then Cookie.”
“Pants, then cookie,” Bradley agreed, holding out a pant leg for Arthur to step into. “Just—no telling Mommy, okay?”
“Okay.” The pants were barely around his waist, when Arthur was out into the hallway, wrapping his arms around Avery’s legs. “Hi Mommy. I’m wearing pants but I’m not supposed to tell you why.”
Bradley leaned backwards out of the bathroom door and looked up at Avery. “Oops.”
“Did you really think that Arthur could keep a secret? I mean, really?” Avery laughed, picking up Arthur and kissing him on the cheek before settling him on her hip. “I’ll get Arthur his bribe while you finish getting ready—then I’ll take you up on that going back to bed offer and you can take him into school. Deal?”
“Deal.” Bradley grinned, pulling himself back up.
Avery walked towards the kitchen, and Arthur patted her on the shoulder. “Mommy?”
“I don’t want a bribe. I want a cookie.”
“Right. We’ll get you a cookie.”