On fairly regular occasions, my children decide that they're in a cuddling mood. For Payne, that usually means he wants to attempt a "number of Berenstain Bears books read aloud in sequence" world record. Genevieve just wants to sit in my lap and rotate clockwise in short violent spurts for about 45 minutes.
I appreciate their interest in me, I really do. However, story/cuddle time generally plays out as a sort of UFC cage match, and I'm outnumbered.
It starts out calm enough. Payne brings me a stack of books, we settle down hip to hip on the couch. Genevieve toddles over and snuggles into my lap. Ahhhh, precious moment.
I begin to read The Berenstain Bears NO GIRLS ALLOWED for the three thousandth time in my life. G starts slapping happily at the pages. Payne yells "doooon't!" and shoves her hand away. She responds by bopping the top of his head. Wisely, he chooses to ignore her. I halt my stirring interpretation of an obnoxious Sister Bear to ask G not to hit her brother.
Reading resumes, Payne signals his returned attention by slamming his head into my right bicep and sighing happily. I begin to turn a page and Genevieve enthusiastically assists me, nearly giving me a paper cut. She turns to face me and makes a beeline for my hoop earring. I disengage her vice like grip before blood is drawn. Payne is patiently waiting for me to remember what happens so I can ad-lib the page that is missing between "Sister Bear can't find the boys" and "Sister Bear weeping in front of the NO GIRLS ALLOWED sign".
Payne sneezes on my hand. I wipe it on my pants.
G tries to squeeze in between myself and Payne. Payne leans heavily into her, attempting to reduce her to Sister Pulp. I stop reading, disengage them and put Genevieve on my other side. She grabs a fistful of my hair on the way down.
Payne looks at me expectantly, I resume my oratory. Things are getting intense in Bear Country.
G climbs into my lap and throws an elbow into my boob, then uses some skin I didn't know was grippable on my neck as a handle to pull up onto her knees so she can stick her finger up my nose. She plops down heavily, directly onto my bladder. Payne elbows my ribs while scooting closer for a better look at the Bear Country Girls Club tree house. Through all of this I am reading, haltingly.
G starts to scream. I ask her to be quiet.
Payne starts to scream at Genevieve for screaming during his book. I ask him to be quiet.
It's about at this point that I start to get sort of amused. Like, the continued low level beating I'm receiving is getting funny. I start to look around for someone to laugh about this with, and then I realize that everyone else is taking this moment to get AWAY from the children.
G decides to pay attention. The typical sign of this is a violent slamming of the back of her head into my sternum.
Aside from an involuntary "oof!" I manage to finish the story (which ends in a very Pilgrims and Indians sort of meeting of the minds over salmon and honeycomb. Strong work Berenstains) and slap the book shut with no small amount of relief. Genevieve grabs it and raises it triumphantly into the air, meaning she slaps me in the face with it.
What do I earn? A smile from Genevieve as she stands up in my lap and rotates to face me, grinding her wee heels into my femurs. From Payne, a very businesslike retrieval of No Girls Allowed to be followed with a sage presentation of The Berenstain Bears Trouble with Pets.
There are three rounds in a UFC fight, yes? One down, two to go.
LET'S DO THIS.