Grinning with my son at our goofy banter,
I toss him a playful admonition,
— After an inadvertent pause —
Add first and last name through his bedroom door,
Cross the hall to lovingly pick up the threads,
Pleased for adolescent buy-in to sweet remnants of ritual.

My daughter settles into bed, waits her turn,
Wonders aloud how she has offended,
Having been jokingly called her brother’s name before
      when engaging in one of his signature habits.
I invade her bed for a goodnight snuggle,
      explain that I wasn’t talking to her.

His bloodhound ears sniff out his name on the trail of our conversation.
He demands to know what we’re saying about him
Then again when his suspicion muffles my projected reassurance.

Cheeks close together, the girls breathe secrets
As we wrap up our day
Hold our breaths to hush our giggles at indignant bellows for silence
From the man-child who could not hear a shouted response,
But only our “too-loud” wispy whispers.