The elders said that kids were the worst at age two, but three was the phase where kids turned into demons. Qian Meng was getting a run for her money as the three kids combined forces and surrounded her.
Like a cornered victim, she pleaded and begged as the triplets tried to climb up her legs, clinging to her clothes. Mo Qingchen looked over his shoulder and burst into laughter at the helpless look on Qian Meng's face.
This was a daily occurrence.
Kids were supposed to be scared of one parent, but instead, these three were fearless. Neither Qingchen nor Qian Meng believed in hitting the kids or raising their voices. Instead, they took up trying to make things understand what they had done wrong.
But playtime was different. As long as the kids didn't hit anyone or do something dangerous, everything was fair play.
Seeing Qian Meng struggle to keep balance, Mo Qingchen quickly put the stove on low heat and sprinted to the site of the crime. He scooped up two at a time, leaving Qian Meng lighter and relieved.
"I thought I was going to topple over with them." The main concern, in this case, was the kids getting hurt. When you had kids, you forgot that you were human and could get hurt, too.
She looked at the stove and shook her head. "I'll go stir the veggies. Just handle them for a bit, will you?" she pleaded softly. With Neith hanging off her hips, she sauntered to the stove, making sure that there was careful distance between Neith and the stove. She stirred slowly as she spoke. She said exactly what she was doing and it seemed to humor the kid.
Mo Qingchen came over, carrying the other two, and placed them farther away from the heat so that they could watch their mother cooking. In form of entertainment, he started to ask questions.
Qian Meng guffawed when she heard the conversation.
"Meow times One is?" Mo Qingchen prompted. Qian Meng raised her brow, wondering what the response would be.
In unison, the three kids sang out, "Meow!"
"Meow times two is?" he asked again.
"Meow meow!" they responded in the same tone. The higher the multiplication became, the louder their voices grew until Qian Meng couldn't hold the spatula in her hand properly and shook with laughter.
The shouts of 'meow' were deafening. The kids giggled, too, seemingly happy at humoring their mother.
"What do you think?" Mo Qingchen asked her.
She shook her head in amusement. "When did you teach them this?"
"I was on a boring work call. I put the call on mute and taught the kids this. It took some practice to get them to scream in unison, but it was worth it." He chuckled.
"As long as you don't teach them tough multiplication," she said softly. "I have a feeling at least two of them will surpass your expectations."
Food was ready and Qian Meng placed everything on plates.
Neith looked at the food on her plate and scrunched her little face. "Ugly," she said calmly but confidently. The tone was so much like Mo Qingchen that a shiver ran up Qian Meng's spine.
She glared at Mo Qingchen, who looked like he was biting back a smile.
Qian Meng placed her hand on her hips and waved her finger. "You can't say that, Neith. It hurts my feelings. I worked really hard to make that!" Qian Meng said softly.
Sia looked up from her meal, innocently and tried to appease her mother. "Tastes really good, maa," she said. Her voice was low.
Qian Meng patted the kid's head, happy that at least one was on her side.
"Maa, the food is this much ugly," Rex commented. He pinched his little fingers very close together to show a measurement of how impressed he was with the aesthetics of the plate in front of him.
Seven years of marriage and practice in cooking hadn't made Qian Meng improve in the good-looking food category. Qian Meng sighed.
"You guys are coming up with creative ways to criticize me these days," she said with a pout. "How does it taste?" she asked.
"Delicious," Qingchen spoke up before the kids. There was a twinkle in his eyes that Qian Meng didn't miss. She rolled her eyes and looked at the children.
The kids hummed in agreement.
"Is it better than Dad's cooking?" Qian Meng coaxed.
"Mom cooks best," Sia commented brightly.
"Dad's not too bad… but mom is better," Rex responded. He was always one to… downplay bad comments.
Neith didn't comment. She seemed to have a tacit understanding with her siblings.
"Traitors. I taught you so many games but you took your mom's side when the time to test your loyalty came," Mo Qingchen accused. His voice was filled with amusement.
"Sorry!" they trilled together.
The meal passed harmoniously. It was a boon that all the kids were happy eaters. They got it from both parents who were foodies. They didn't make a fuss when they were asked to eat. That was one less headache for their tired and overworked parents.
"Time for dessert!" Qingchen called. He stood up from the chair and slowly cleared away the table.
"I'll take care of that," Qian Meng told him. She pushed at his shoulder. "Get the desert, will you?" she asked.
Mo Qingchen pressed a quick kiss on her lips before sprinting to the refrigerator. Qian Meng snickered at the expression on the kids' faces. They were used to these displays of affection and knew them to be what love looked like.
But they still looked peeved.
Qian Meng scraped the remnants away and then unloaded the dishes in the sink after lightly cleaning them.
"Qian Meng!" Mo Qingchen called. "Leave the dishes for later. Have the donuts first," he prompted.
She looked over her shoulder and saw the kids holding the sugared donuts Mo Qingchen had made a couple of days ago in their small hands. The powdered sugar went all over their hands and Qian Meng felt mild horror at how hard she would have to work to clean these children up before bed.
Still, she smiled and came back. Ever the sweet husband, Mo Qingchen brought up the donut to her mouth and fed her small bites as Qian Meng pulled out tissues and cleaned the table.
"You have really become a middle-aged wife," Mo Qingchen whispered. Qian Meng turned to him with a smile.
"That is exactly what I am, Mr. Mo." She wiped her hand with a wet wipe and then promptly took the donut from his hand. In the process, she was distracted and the crumbs of the donut and the sugar ended up going under her T-shirt. She could feel the powder on her skin and snorted.
"I had heard of the term sugar-tits, but this is ridiculous."
She didn't think she had ever heard Mo Qingchen laugh so hard. "That term fits you perfectly," he flirted openly. A plan formed in his mouth. "This wasn't enough dessert for me. Let's ditch the kids after putting them to bed and have some real desert, shall we?" he said.
The look in his eyes held promises. Promises Qian Meng was going to hold him accountable to. The sugar on her tits wasn't going to be cleaned so easily. It needed special attention. And it would be a waste to just clean it up.
Therefore, Mr. Mo and Mrs. Mo rushed to change the kids into night clothes, tucked them into bed, and then sprinted to their room for their unfinished meal.