Typically, I get home first. I walk into big smiles, uncoordinated toddler clapping, and a list of pre-school injustices like, “Cameron called me Scooter Pooter!”

But when Barrett gets home, it’s a different story. And since my mom was in the other day, she got to see it firsthand.

“Daddy’s home,” I whispered, leaning towards my mother. “Cover your ears.”

Mom raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

I politely pointed over her shoulder to the front door. Yes, that was where The Lord of the Rings orc war would begin.

“Hello!” roared Barrett, throwing his bag on the floor with little regard for his ancient firm-issued laptop.

Micah sprang like a jack-in-the-box from my lap to the floor. Bizou appeared from nowhere with a ferocious Schnoodle bark. Maddox roused from “Chuck the Truck” and uttered a prolonged squeal.

“Now,” I instructed my mom, “I’d get on the couch.”

When Barrett took off running with the energy of a wind turbine, she complied.

Her honey-colored eyes widened. We both sat with our knees tucked in to our chests watching Barrett chasing the kids around the perimeter of living room in a circle, the dog nipping at the tails of his suit jacket.

“Ten, nine, eight—” I began.

“—Why are you counting down?”

“Just wait,” I assured her. “Seven, six, five, four, three, two—”

Several loud bangs jerked our attention to the side table. Yes, one of them always runs into something. Usually, it’s one another but sometimes it’s a really hard object or a wall.  This day, it was a side table.

The next three minutes were raging storm of high pitched screams and a torrent of tears.

“Ten, nine, eight—” I started again.

“—What now?” Mom asked, now a believer.

“Don’t move.” I explained. Barrett massaged his injured shin one last time before carefully untangling himself from the malicious end table.

He sent the kids a dangerous look and took a deep breath. On cue, Bizou barked loudly, Micah’s cheeks flushed, and an excited smile lit Maddox’s face.  . . . Right before they all took off again.

“Daddy’s home,” I said proudly.

Toddler X Games