"Mommy?" His pajamas are too small and his hair is too long and his bare feet wiggle against the kitchen floor and he twists his fingers together because he's sure that he's in trouble. This is his third time up.
My hands are sticky with sweet marinade and the wrapping up of water chestnuts with bacon and I turn to him without lifting my hands from the cutting board. "Liam, you have to sleep...Santa won't come."
He sniffles. "I was dust heawing Zander banging his feet and screaming, 'Santa is here! Santa is here!' and I tan't sweep."
There are heavy bags beneath his eyes and he's so tuckered from the long day he spent with me at work and the long night with the magical candlelight service and his stellar 'O Come All Ye Faithful' lip syncing from the mezzanine and the picking of the choicest clementine for Rudolph because of course reindeer need Vitamin C as much as everyone else. He crosses the kitchen and wraps his arms around my waist.
"Was Zander really doing that?" I ask, stabbing a toothpick through a chestnut and finally washing my hands. He doesn't let go of me as I turn to the sink.
"Nooooo," he wails, burying his face in my sweater, tears in his voice. "It's dust all in my head and I tan't sweep."
I unwrap his arms from me like I'm opening a present and I bite against laughing at his overacting imagination. "You have to sleep, Liam."
"I know," he whimpers. Then he wipes his nose on my sleeve and stumbles back to bed after and quick kiss on the top of his head.