Sometimes after we put the kid to bed and we’re eating our dinner at 9:48 PM and straining to stay awake long enough to see which designer gets the boot the Project Runway episode we started six days ago, Bart and talk about Alice.
“Alice can make his lunch,” I say, picked dried ketchup of my sweatpants.
“Oh she’s probably already done that,” Bart answers. “She’s probably cleaning the bathroom or folding his laundry. That’s like what? Seven loads in two days?”
“It’s garbage night,” I muse.
“Alice knows that,” Bart says. “It’s covered.
And then we look around the living room with the trains on the floor and empty “surprise egg” shells mashed in the cushions and Legos…so many goddamn Legos.
“Is that my nail polish?” I ask. “On the wall?”
“Oh. Yeah. Something happened. Meant to tell you about it.”
We have dreams of Alice. Alice-laced reveries.
Sometimes we talk to her.
It’s like praying.
Dear Alice, I forgot to put gas in the car and don’t want to stop on my way to work. Would you mind terribly?
Oh, heavenly Alice, thank you for dropping Quinn off at daycare so we’re not late for work.
Dear Alice, who art in thy kitchen, please forgive the organic pop tarts (that have just as much sugar as the regular ones but cost four bucks more) in the pantry and give our child something FDA approved for breakfast.
Oh, and please make him wear pants.
God is so good, y’all.
Will you wash our sheets? It’s probably been too long. And when you pull them off the bed, just know that’s jelly on the mattress. And you already know about the Kit Kat that melted under Bart’s sweaty foot. Good luck getting that out!
Alice makes all of our meals. I pin recipes and she has them ready when we come home. She makes us eat as a family because she’s sick of seeing Quinn eating salami in our bed, and me pulling cheddar slices out of my pockets when I take the dog for a walk and Bart, taking in peanut butter by the wooden spoonful.
And can I have something healthy for lunch tomorrow too? I can? Oh Alice, you’re the best!
Alice likes consistency. She likes a routine. She likes structure. She really likes our family!
You should see the way she loads a dishwasher.
She cleans Zelda’s litter box and makes sure Puppy has food. We used to always forget to feed him. Who forgets to feed their dog!? She remembers what he’s allergic too and brushes his teeth so his breath doesn’t smell like a dead pigeon in a subway tunnel in the middle of July.
She picks up all the Legos. And the action figures. All the stupid, eff’ing toys that never make their way back into the Potter Barn Kids bins that line the walls. I never see, kick, trip or step on toys. Our house is so organized and tidy we’re like, HA! Does a kid even LIVE HERE?! We laugh about the days before Alice when Bart fell down the stairs after stepping on an action figure. (“IT WAS A JAWA,” I heard him bellow from the bottom of the stairs. I thought it was funny, but only because he landed on the pile of dirty towels we meant to put in the washer six days prior. I’m not a total monster.)
Instead of calling for “Maaaaaaaaaaahhhhhmmmm” at 3:15 in the morning, Quinn would call for Alice to take him to the bathroom. (Quietly though so as not to wake up mommy and daddy.)
And when Quinn poops, it will be Alice who is beckoned into the bathroom and told to “close her eyes” because there’s a surprise in here.
Alice, do you like wrestling demon children into bathtubs and trying to shove Paw Patrol training toothpaste into jaws clenched tighter than a gecko’s grip? Have we got a job for you!
Don’t worry, Alice, you’ll get some time away from the kid. We totally get it. Maybe you could sweep the leaves off the deck and remove all the cobwebs from the front porch so it doesn’t look like our house is cosplaying as One Mockingbird Lane. Alice, have you met Lurch? He should totally come live with us too!
Alice, will you please, for the love of all things holy, help Quinn “stuff the surprise eggs” and be a rapt audience as he opens them in front of you 14,583 times? Will you please think of creative, funny things that could be in the eggs when she shakes them and asks, “Hmm…what’s in this egg?” and really expects an answer even though he’s the one that put the stuff in the eggs in the first place? And will you please hide them around the house so he can search for them and remember how many you hid so we don’t sit on them a month later and spend the next several days picking tiny plastic shards on the backs of our thighs?
On weekend mornings, when Quinn crawls into our bed at 6:50 AM and asks if he can watch Paw Patrol and have a cup of warm milk, and we’re so tired and can’t find our glasses to find the remote control to find Paw Patrol on the list of annoying shows we record for our child who we fear gets way too much screen time, we’re totally cool about Alice getting into the bed too. Not in a creepy way. Not in a sister wife way. Just to help hit the fast forward button when Quinn yells, “It’s an AD!!!!” And after two episodes of Paw Patrol when he asks if he can go downstairs and play trains, she will take him. She loves playing trains almost as much as he does. And we say, we’ll be right there too, as we drift away for second sleep and keep dreaming about Alice.