"Stop jumping on the couch."
I say this 500 times a day. Sometimes it's more like 5,000. I yell it, I bark it, I hiss it from between gritted teeth.
"ON THE." (motherfucking)
I honestly believe they try. "Oops! Okay!" says the toddler hurriedly, as he scrambles to the floor. "Okay! Oops! Okay!" Then four minutes later, he goes all Memento, I swear I can actually see the blank look sweep his face as his neural passageways re-arrange themselves into a pattern that does not include his mother nagging him about the couch 4,999 times prior to this moment, and he's back on there, executing a perfect back flip.
His brother, who at 5 should damn well know better, offers up a frenzied series of excuses as to why he's on the couch again. "But Mom," he wheedles, gesturing around him, "this is my spaceship."
"But why are you jumping in your spaceship?"
He furrows his brow, thinking.
"Because there's no GRAVITY in here!"
The couch, a cheap purchase from a discount furniture store a few years ago, is, admittedly, a total piece of shit. We reasoned that when you're buying something for a tiny, oddly shaped living area, and you're about to be raising two small children, it's best to go the piece-of-shit route.
Still, it's the only piece of shit we have to sit on in this room, and it's starting to look like something salvaged from a Dumpster. Behind a fraternity. After evicting the family of rodents that had taken up residence in its cushions.
It's been barfed on, spilled on, slept on, drooled on. The cushions have been flung to the floor and used as a trampoline. The fabric is frayed and stained, the foam inserts are squashed and misshapen, and a couple weeks ago while I was taking a shower and reveling in what I thought was a peaceful, cartoon-watching brotherly silence, the toddler went at it with a pair of scissors.
The children never actually sit on it. They leap on it, curl into balls and roll across it like potato bugs, dive into the cracks, slither onto the armrests, fall off the sides.
I was visiting my mother over Christmas and marveled out loud at how well their couch is holding up. It originally belonged to my grandparents; it's over 40 years old. Not a single stain mars its cheery floral upholstery, its padded seats are as firm and structured as ever. "They don't build them like they used to," said my mom, but as she spoke the words, my 2-year-old scrambled onto the middle cushion and gathered himself in order to take a flying leap.
"STOP JUMPING ON THE COUCH!" my husband and I barked in unison.
Give my kids a few months with that well-built antique, I bet they could reduce it to another sagging, rat-infested chiropractic-appointment-in-the-making. Just like ours. Which is why I don't plan to replace the couch, repaint the walls, steam-clean the carpet, update their bathroom, or have my car detailed ... any time soon.