Sometimes, when the kids seem to have altogether too much energy trapped in their tiny bodies at night, pajama time turns into a dance party. Lydia is the easiest to get started; you just play anything sounding remotely like music at a high volume and she is suddenly there. Clara you sometimes have to pull onto the dance floor and manually twirl a few times to get her moving. Gideon, as always, is just happy to do whatever he sees his sisters doing.

We shake out our jazz hands, and kick our legs in the air, and spin ourselves into the carpet. And all the while I am purloining the girl’s dirty clothes and dropping nightgowns onto their heads. As if their flannel nightgowns were nefarious potato sacks and I was some villain sneaking up behind the children and tossing them head first into the bags while they are still distracted by the music.

Last night, Gideon was feeling especially enthusiastic about the dance related kidnapping. He matched all of the motions of his older sisters as they took turns flopping on the couch, or bouncing off of the walls. They chachaed back and forth with a very lucky broom and then tossed him aside in favor of a large ball which they bounced and kicked and had quickly taken away from them. Then as the girls got ready to be stuffed in their pajama sacks, the little boy very excitedly ran to the center of the room and eagerly tore off his shirt with a sudden flourish that I didn’t know his limbs were even capable of. He sent the shirt sailing into the corner in triumph. Now, ecstatically bare-chested he ran to the stairs, climbed halfway up, and proceeded to wiggle his hips and wave his hands in the air like a man getting struck by lighting on the top of a mountain. The girls stopped dancing and looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders and plopped the first of them into their nightgowns.

A few minutes later and the music stopped, the girls rushed up the stairs to their bed room, and I was left alone in the basement trying to catch my breath. Gideon padded into the middle of the room in nothing but his pants and slowly turned himself in a circle a few times. First clockwise, then counterclockwise. Finally he stopped, facing me. He wound his naked arms together into a pink vine and then hugged himself and rubbed his forearms, his bare shoulders raised in question. “Where’d shirt go?”

I sighed and motioned for him to come towards me. When he was in range I pulled him onto my lap and rubbed my hand up and down along his back. “I really have no idea where your shirt went. Sometimes that kind of thing happens. You just have to accept it. You’re a guy. Shirts sometimes fly off without warning. And sometimes you have to run and dance on the stairs like a shirtless idiot. I’m sorry things have to be this way, but that’s how it is.”

He accepted these words quietly, and buried his face into my arm and was soon fast asleep.