"Um," he says approaching me gingerly in the kitchen. I continue loading the dishwasher, waiting to hear what is clearly a matter of importance. "I was wondering..." He is so predictably unpredictable these days that I have no idea what this is about, but I have an inkling that it might be one of those moments. "Yes," I respond, continuing with my task. "Just listen for a minute," he says, anticipating some resistance, "before you say no. Okay?" "Okay," I say, feeling like I am giving away a right I may well need to exercise in the near future. I rise up from the dishes and give him my full attention. "You know how Anna is sleeping over tonight and the girls are going to sleep in the guest room? I thought it would be a good idea if I got to sleep in there with them tonight." I go to respond but stop, remembering how I promised to listen. This is going to be a hard one I think. He wants so badly to be able to "play" with Tova and her friends, but does not quite appreciate the needs of an older, teenage sister. To him, inviting her to play with he and his friends is absolutely equal to the reverse. But clearly, it is not. The necessity of talk, manicures...it just requires a kind of privacy he will have a hard time comprehending and one that I feel the need to respect. "I get it, Dec," I say, but already my tone has given him a clue to my response. "Mom" he states firmly. "Yes," I echo firmly. "Just don't get me started." There's the smile. There's one in practically every exchange. It's the moment when he says something that throws me. It can be a word, a phrase. A try, a misnomer, but nonetheless a beautiful attempt, with no fear of failure I might add, at new language. "Just don't get me started," he repeats for emphasis. He's heard it repeated like that somewhere before, I think, and he's seeing if it will get him the floor again. I give him the floor. "I could make a bed on the floor and I could sleep in there with them. I think that will work. I'm serious." No mistaking how serious this boy is. "Dec, the bed is so small and the girls need their privacy," I say, not enjoying the answer I need to give him. I'm a sucker for not wanting anyone to feel left out. "How about if I ask them," I say, "but only if you think you can hear the answer 'no' if that is what their answer is." "I know. It's just when I feel so angry...when I feel the grrrr...," his face is in a snarl and his fists are pumping downward toward the floor, "I will stop myself. Like this: gr..." And he stopped himself. I'm watching him. He is performing the late night entertainment and doesn't know it. "Okay, I'll ask," I agree. Then he throws out the punchline. "Yeah. I think you should ask them. It's just that I'm really getting tired of risking my life up there every night."