Young lady, you have your hands full.
I let the restaurant door close behind me and did a head count. One. Two. And. Three. I smiled at the man who sat on the bench outside the restaurant. It was a forced smile, one given to strangers as I handled the boys. Tonight they were on the verge of rebelling. It was almost bedtime. They were tired. They are not usually out this late. I had fed them sugar to give them something to do. Now I hustled them out of the restaurant to keep them from fighting, yelling, and flinging toys.
I looked across the cement courtyard at the man. He leaned back, rolling a cigarette. His hair was long and greasy. His voice held the giggle of someone who was that side of tipsy. But I recognized what he was. He was a cowboy. His speech, his slouch, his manner gave him away.
The Cowboy: Three boys?
The Cowboy: (chuckled) You do have your hands full.
Tornado E climbed a rock. Tornado S sat on a bench swinging his legs. Tornado A stared at the man. I shifted Tornado A in my arms.
Me: Never a dull moment.
The Cowboy: I bet. They keep you busy?
Me: Yup, but that’s life.
The Cowboy: Yup. That’s life. Handsome boys too. They take after their mama.
Me: Thank you.
The Cowboy: Enjoy them. They grow faster than you know. All mine are grown, except one in high school. And now I’m a granddad. It’s a good life. (I smiled) But you’ll never be done. They’ll always need you.
I gave a mocked groan.
The Cowboy chuckled and licked his cigarette.
The Cowboy: Yup, it’s a good life, young lady. Enjoy them.
He stood up, sauntering passed us to go down wind.
The Cowboy: Boys, you take care of your mama. That’s your job.