A nude Jacob dashed through the kitchen and into the living room.
"Jacob!" Simon called, pursuing the wayward boy. "It's time to put clothes on."
Chasing Jacob around the house just to get him clothed was quickly becoming a daily chore for Simon, and he struggled to address this new reality. Ever since the pool incident, he had a tough time acting as a disciplinarian with Jacob. For the last few days, he had relied on Angelique to lay down the law with him, but she was upstairs taking her own bath. This time, he was on his own, and he intended to see his responsibility through.
Just as he closed in on the fugitive boy, he stumbled on a stray building block near the coffee table and landed on the couch. Simon sighed, slightly embarrassed, but he quickly took the opportunity to grab the giggling tyke. He turned, headed back upstairs to the nursery when the doorbell rang, echoing throughout the large, lakeside home.
Simon wondered who was at the door. Neither he nor his wife were expecting any visitors, and he knew it wasn't a mailman. Their house was so remote that they couldn't get mail delivered to the address. They had to pick it up at the post office in the nearest town. Intrigued, Simon went to the front door, keeping a firm hold on Jacob's hand, and checked the peephole.
He opened the door immediately. "Sophia?"
Angelique hadn't told him that her mother intended to visit, yet she stood in front of him, luggage in hand. She wore a frilly blouse with a flower pattern and fitted jeans and had the biggest, most excited smile on her face.
"Nieto!" Sophia exclaimed, dropping her bags and engulfing Jacob into a big hug. "You're cuter in person than in the pictures your madre sends."
"Ma?" Angelique questioned, standing at the bottom of the stairs in her bathrobe.
"Mija!" Sophia brushed past Simon, carrying Jacob along. "You look well."
"What are you doing here?" Angelique asked. "You said you would call before you visited."
"Mija," Sophia began, bouncing Jacob in her arms. "You know I had to see my neito."
"I know, but you were supposed to call," Angelique adamantly reminded her. "We weren't supposed to be home today. Jacob's social worker called us this morning to cancel the appointment since he is under the weather. You could have been stranded." Angelique ran her hand through her hair, a nervous habit that she had picked up from her husband. "How long are you going to be here?"
"I have a flight for the day after tomorrow," her mother answered. "Is your guest room available?"
"It is," Simon answered, closing the front door. "I'll take your bags up."
Sophia pinched Jacob's cheeks while following Simon and Angelique upstairs. "Your papa is a strong man. Isn't he?"
Simon blushed, and he knew the laughter coming from his wife was directed towards his reaction. He placed the bags near the foot of the bed and immediately went to the closet to pull out a fresh set of linens.
While her husband accommodated her mother, Angelique decided to address the earlier chaos, and that started with her naked son. She held her arms out toward the little boy. "Come on, Jacob. You need to get dressed."
"No!" Jacob protested, sticking his tongue out and holding onto his grandmother. "I'm nakey today."
"Jacob," Angelique warned in her authoritarian tone. "You know better. There are no naked days. Now, let's get some clothes on, and then you can play downstairs."
The little boy pouted but didn't resist when she took him into her arms. Sophia quickly rummaged through her luggage before following her daughter and grandson into the nursery.
"I love the decoration in here," Sophia said, running a hand over the ocean-themed mobile above the crib. "I never did get to see how you all had decorated the nursery after the..." she trailed off, not wanting to drudge up traumatic memories for her daughter.
"Yeah," Angelique agreed, appreciative that her mother stopped herself. "We chose an ocean theme, and we really worked hard on the design. We were renting out the place for a while, and the families really liked it."
"That's good." Sophia walked over to the toy shelf and scanned the toys. "When are you going back to the city?"
"In less than a week," Angelique answered, pulling a thin, white shirt over Jacob's head. "We found the perfect daycare for Jacob. It's really close to the office, and his first day is on the Friday before we go back to work."
"I can see you're happier now, Mija," Sophia said, draping an arm over her daughter's shoulders. "Your papa would be so proud of you for giving his neito a home."
"Thanks, Ma." Angelique wiped at her eyes with her wrist. She had cried to her mother so many times after the loss of her first child. Things were better now, and it pleased her to know that her mother could see her move forward in her life. "That means a lot, Ma. It really does."
Just after Angelique placed Jacob on the floor, Sophia stooped down with her hands hidden behind her back. "I brought you a present, nieto," she said revealing the wrapped gift in her hands. "I think you will like it."
"Wow," Jacob breathed, taking the decorated box from his grandmother. To the tyke, the shiny wrapping paper looked interesting enough to sustain his attention for a moment, but he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with it. It didn't look fun to play with.
"You have to unwrap it, silly," Sophia explained when Jacob simply held the box in his hands. "Here, I'll help."
After a few rips, Jacob's new toy was visible, and he quickly ripped away the remaining paper. Holding the miniature fire truck in his hands, he marveled at it for a moment. He recognized the shape and colors from one of the books that Simon had read to him, and he prepared to begin pretending to be a fireman.
But before he could start, Angelique pat him on the head. "Don't forget to say thank you."
"Thank you!" Jacob squealed before putting the truck on the ground. He pushed it all around the nursery, speedily crawling alongside it while Angelique crushed the wrapping paper and tossed it in the trash bin.
Sophia and Angelique led Jacob downstairs to join Simon in the kitchen. "I guess we better get started on lunch," Angelique said, watching her husband snack on an apple.
"Let the women do the cooking, Simon," Sophia ordered, pushing him out of the kitchen. "Watch some TV with your boy."
Angelique sighed. Her parents were very traditional, and she'd explained to her mother many times that she and her husband shared a progressive perspective of gender roles. She didn't do most of the cooking because it her assigned job but because she genuinely enjoyed being in the kitchen.
Simon looked at his wife apologetically, and she just shrugged, resigning herself to conceding to her mother's outdated values. While they prepared lunch, chatting from time to time, Simon played with Jacob and his new firetruck. They went around the living room pretending to save people from burning buildings. Simon had even pretended to be trapped a few times, and Jacob had come to the rescue, pushing his truck to Simon's spot on the floor and saving him from the imaginary flames.
While they had lunch, Sophia volunteered to feed Jacob, and he ate his food at an impressive pace.
"Buen trabajo!" she told Jacob when he finished his bowl of food. "You have such a healthy appetite – that stomach of yours has so much room." She turned to face Angelique. "Mija? Have you started teaching him any Spanish?"
"Ma," Angelique began, almost begging her mother to take it easy on her. "Jacob only came into our home recently. Things have been hectic. We've been trying to get him accustomed to a routine before we start on that."
"No me des ecusas, Mija," Sophia insisted, turning to Jacob. "Nieto, I'm your abuela. Can you say abuela?"
"Abuela!" Jacob repeated.
"Excelente." Sophia sat down in the dining chair with Jacob in her lap. She sectioned a few individual pieces of pasta on her plate and pointed to each of them as she moved them to the side. "Uno. Dos. Tres. Cuatro. Cinco. Seis. Siete. Ocho. Nueve. Diez."
They went over it a few times, and after the third time, Jacob could get through most of the numbers on his own.
"Diez!" he exclaimed, and all of the adults clapped, showering him with praises.
"You're so smart," his abuela told him, squeezing him tightly "You're going to do so well in school."
When Jacob tired in time for his afternoon nap, Sophia sat with him on the couch and told him stories about his abuelo. She described what he looked like and explained his responsibilities as a doctor. Pretty soon, he lay fast asleep in her lap.
The family had gone out to a restaurant in town for dinner, and everyone had a great time. Jacob couldn't wait to get inside, wound up from the sugary dessert his abuela had bought for him. He crawled around in circles with his firetruck while the adults watched the news, but he eventually got bored of that and started practicing somersaults.
Simon chastised Jacob numerous times about how dangerous it was for him to do that on the hardwood floors, but Jacob continued to act as if he hadn't heard him. As bedtime approached, Simon already knew they were going to have a hard time getting the tyke to go to sleep.
"I don't think he's going to get tired anytime soon," Simon commented, looking to his wife for support.
"I have the perfect solution," Sophia said, standing up. She went upstairs to the guest room and returned with a bottle of valyrian root powder. "Does he have a bottle before bed?"
"Sometimes," Angelique answered, going to the kitchen to warm a bottle. "But he's never had any valyrian root before."
"He'll be fine." Sophia insisted, waving her hand. "I always sprinkled a little bit into your bottles, and you slept great as a baby."
When she walked back into the living room, Sophia handed the boy his warmed bottle of milk and watched as he gulped it down. When he finished, he gave his grandmother the empty bottle and went back to playing.
About an hour later, Simon first noticed Jacob falling asleep on himself, and he was genuinely surprised. He didn't think that a supplement could have such a potent effect. Grateful for his mother-in-law's assistance, he scooped up the tyke and let him rest his head on his shoulder.
Sophia stood up too and kissed Jacob on the forehead. "Buenos noches, nieto," she said, rubbing his back.
That night, Jacob slept well, and woke up especially excited to spend another day with his kind abuela.