When I defected to the inside for coffee, I threatened. "If you don't learn to come sit outside on the patio with me by the time we're an old married couple, I'm going to put a cardboard cutout of you out there...or, better yet, I'll stuff an old man doll and stick it in a rocker on the front porch for company."
"Sounds like a plan."
Rotten old man.
The war of natures escalated when he discovered while grilling our lunch that the children and I had scattered bird seed all over the yard while he slept.
"I don't want all those stupid birds in my yard!" he cried. "They're going to poop all over everything and perch on the roof waiting for the next big seed party."
Other than the risk that our backyard could turn into a bad Hitchcock movie, I didn't see his point.
"So? They're part of nature."
"So, I even found some seed on my white table that I cleaned off."
"Your table? Yeah, right! When do you ever sit at that table?"
"Fine then. I'll leave them to poop all over your table and won't bother to clean it up next time."
"No...well...thank you," I amended. "But I'm the one who cleans those tables most of the time anyway," I added, still nettled. "And you're just scared of nature! Ha!"
That did not go over well, especially when our eldest son cried, "Yeah!" Matthew does not tolerate insubordination from offspring. We backpedaled and tried to mumble how we just wanted his company outside sometimes to sit and play, but it was too late.
Matthew and I finally made up that afternoon the way all exhausted parents do: over a nap. When we woke up, the kids, robbed of more television, had nothing better to do than look out the windows. Soon afterward they started telling us excitedly about all the birds in the backyard (the little rats even counted them for accurate reporting). I giggled nervously as my husband turned his smug gaze on me.
"Ix-nay on the ird-bays," I growled at the kids. "Nobody needs to know."
Cooking french toast and bacon for dinner that night, I passed by my husband and made smooching noises instead of actually kissing his lips. I didn't want to get too close to the frying pan.
"So that's how you two kiss when you're cooking," said Berto, our eldest. "It sounds like what you do when you're nakey."
Instantly, I went on the defensive.
"Listen, Berto," I said, waving my spatula and trying to keep it matter-of-fact. "If you walk in on Papa and Mama when we're like that, it's your fault. That'll teach you that you should always knock."
"I think he said, 'what you do with Nike'," corrected my Man, enunciating slowly and giving me a look as he referred to our pet hamster.
"Yeah," said Berto, confused. "That's what I said - Nike. The kissy noises you make at Nike."
"Oh." I went back to minding my french toast. "Well, then, just scratch that and...uh...ignore it."