Seokjin slipped the last celery-peanut butter snack onto the plate before wiping his hands on his ‘World’s Best Mom’ apron affectionately decorated in a horrific affliction of Crayola markers that depicted suns with wide smiling faces, bees with stripes that miraculously lifted off their fuzzy black and yellow bodies and hearts. A shit ton of hearts in every shade of the 12 pack washable marker rainbow.
It was a gift he received for Father’s Day, much to his confusion, given the swirly script of the words printed on the front. “It was the only one they had left. It was either this or one with abs.” “And you didn’t get me that one?!” “Well, I didn’t want the kids to pick that and you already have your own so...” “Oh Min Yoongi, you’re a tease.” But it was remarkably useful since Seokjin found himself in the kitchen often, and often in the clothes he wore to work, not having time to change from when he got home, having to keep up with the busy mini destruction machines.
Seokjin moved around the counter in the kitchen to the table big enough for the seven member family. He placed the plate of healthy snacks down and then he heard crying. Untying the string securing his apron, he moved towards the bedrooms down the hallway. The noise wasn’t ear piercing, so not Hobi or Tae. It wasn’t soft like Jimin, and Namjoon tried his absolute best to keep himself from crying now that he was in kindergarten, claiming that he was too mature to act like a baby. Which left the smallest of the bunch, and this concerned Seokjin just a tad more than usual.
He opened the last door on the left, the kids designated play room, and found the aftermath of a small tornado. Weaving his way through piles of legos, stacks of books and the occasional action figure, Seokjin arrived at the source of the noise.
“Oh, baby,” he cooed, kneeling to the ground to look over Jungkook, “What’s wrong, Kookie-ya? Where does it hurt?”
Behind the nearest pile of legos the fraternal twins chatter as they stack brick on brick. Seokjin scoops up Jungkook and stands, facing the two older boys. “Taehyung, Jimin, do you know why Jungkook is crying?”
Taehyung isn’t looking at Seokjin but he can sense Taehyung nervously biting his lip by the way his shoulders hunch at the question. Jimin, on the other hand, looked at Seokjin with big brown eyes and opened his mouth to speak when Taehyung snapped his hand over his mouth, hissing, “Don’t!” Jimin closed his mouth and dropped his eyes when his mouth was uncovered. Seokjin bounced Jungkook lightly against his chest and rubbed a circle on the sniffling baby’s back. “Boys,” he warned, “did you do something mean to your brother?”
“He broke one of our towers!” Jimin blurted out quickly, referencing the scattered pile of legos to the right. Taehyung glared at his twin and Jimin caught the look out of the corner of his eye, mumbling an apology.
“We don’t want to play with Kookie if he’s going to break our toys,” Taehyung grumbled.
“Taehyung, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to make your brother cry. He’s just a baby, he needs his hyungs to be kind to him.”
Taehyung’s face softens considerably at this from a look of anger to wobbling guilt. Jimin perks up for him, “We’re sorry, Eomma! Please don’t be mad at us...”
Seokjin knelt again, smiling calmly at the twins who regarded him with wide eyes in nervous anticipation of their punishment.
“I’m not the one you should apologize to,” he lifted Jungkook from his broad shoulders, and turned him around to face his brothers. Jungkook sniffed and looked at the twins before making grabby hands at both their faces.
“We’re sorry, Jungkookie,” Jimin said first, he reached out a finger for Jungkook to grasp. Jungkook warbled as he waved his arm, Jimin’s hand following dutifully.
“Yeah, we were just mad that you broke our tower. But we’re sorry we wouldn’t let you play with us,” Taehyung said, reaching his finger out to poke Jungkook’s little tummy, earning him a giggle and crinkling eye smile.
Seokjin regarded them fondly, a smile playing on his lips. He ruffled the twin’s hair and picked Jungkook back up, settling him on his chest. “Since you apologized, go find your hyungs,” he said. “There are snacks on the table.”
Taehyung and Jimin jumped up immediately, knocking over the remaining two towers, shouting excitedly about food.
“Wash your hands first!” Seokjin shouted as the blurs ran out of the room. Not thinking for a moment they undoubtedly would not be washing up, Seokjin headed down the hall, following excited shouts, all the while humming a quiet tune to Jungkook who had all but exhausted himself from crying.
“Hey! Hands off Joonie-hyung! That one is mine, Mommy put a raisin on it! Those are my favorite!”
“Stop hogging them TaeTae! You don’t get all three celeries!”
“Don’t push me, stupid!”
“Hey that’s a bad word!”
Seokjin patted the baby’s back a few more times, mentally preparing himself for the disaster zone he was about to come across. “Boys,” Seokjin said in his ‘mom’ voice. “No one gets to eat anything until your hands are washed! That means you Hoseok! Put the celery down and march!” The four toddlers groaned, but placed their snacks back on the plate, filing to the bathroom.
Seokjin headed to Taehyung, Jimin and Jungkook’s shared room to put the baby down for a nap. The little angel let out soft puffs of breath as he settled on his plush bedding, turning his head towards his momma’s finger when Seokjin lightly stroked his cheek.
“Sleep well, littlest,” he whispers, nuzzling his nose to Jungkook’s warm face.
Slipping out of the room, shutting the door almost all the way, Seokjin enters the bathroom next, taking in the endearing sight of Namjoon helping Jimin wash his hands by hoisting his younger brother up to reach his chubby little hands into the stream of water.
“Did you count Jimminie?” Namjoon asks.
“Yeah, hyung! I sang the song, like you taught me!” Seokjin smiles at the two and walks to the kitchen where his two other boys are on the verge of the next household disaster.
“Hold the cup, TaeTae! I’ll pour the juice,” Hoseok says as he tries to balance the carton of orange juice almost as long as his arm, cap off, mouth tilting towards the plastic Ryan cup.
“Don’t spill it, Hobi-hyung. Eomma will be mad at us…”
“I know that! So just hold the cup still and I’ll pour…”
“Not on the floor you won’t,” Seokjin interrupts. Hoseok jumps, spilling a little of the orange liquid on the floor as it sloshes out of the out of balance container. Seokjin sighs, cursing slightly in his head. Just another thing to clean up before he can sit down. “If you want some juice, you should have asked me, Hobi-ah. I’ll pour some for you.”
“No!” Hoseok blurts, he put his hands behind his back and draws an aimless pattern on the floor with his foot bashfully. “I wanted to pour it since I’m a big boy.”
Seokjin smiles. Of course. “You are a big boy, sweetie, but you can’t pour juice on your own just yet.”
“But Joonie can,” he admits bitterly.
“How about I help you this time? You can still pour it but I’ll hold it just in case it falls. How does that sound?” Hoseok frowns a little but he looks at Taehyung who smiles in awe.
“Hyung! That’s so cool! Mom’s gonna let you pour it!”
Hobi perks up at his dongsaeng’s excitement, “Alright, mama!”
Seokjin gathers the cups and carton of juice from the floor easily in both his long arms and sets them on the counter. He gets out the kid’s stepstool and unfolds it so Hoseok can clamber up. But something tugs on his pants leg and Seokjin looks down. “Eomma! Let me hold the cups so Hobi-hyung doesn’t knock them over!”
“Alright, Taehyungie,” Seokjin relents, bending down to pick up the small boy and set him against his hip, high enough for the toddler to reach the plastic cup. Hoseok goes for the carton again, two hands wrapped around the laminated paper surface, lifting the drink up, trying to slowly tip it towards the plastic rim of the cup. “Easy, Hobi,” Seokjin coos. With a hand three times as large as Hoseok’s, he holds the bottom of the carton and guides the young boy.
Three minutes later, four cups are successfully filled and there was only a little puddle on the counter. The two boys carry the cups carefully, one in each hand, towards the table and towards their waiting siblings.
“Woah TaeTae, Hobi-hyung thanks!” Jimin says, smiling so big his eyes disappear behind his chubby cheeks in crescent shapes.
“Hobi-hyung poured them all by himself!” Taehyung proudly proclaims, watching as Jimin’s features morph into shock and awe, earning a broad, shining smile from the ball of sunshine walking tall just behind Seokjin. The four miraculously decide to split the plate of treats evenly between each other, even saving a slightly smeared celery stick for Seokjin to munch on. Namjoon holds it out towards him, smiling so his dimples appear cutely on his cheeks.
“Thank you, Namjoon.” Seokjin reaches out to accept it but Namjoon shakes his head.
“No let me!” Seokjin smiles at his pout, but leans down so his mouth is within arm’s reach. Namjoon carefully maneuvers the celery between his waiting lips and Seokjin crunches down with an exaggerated mmm! And wide eyes. But he should’ve known indulging one meant he had to indulge the rest because as soon as he gets done patting Namjoon’s head the other three boys are clamouring for their turn to give Seokjin a bite of their snacks. And Seokjin obliges because the noisy cries are undoubtedly reaching the baby’s ears and he does not need a fifth child to please. Thankfully, just as he finishes thanking Jimin for sharing his snack, the front door opens and closes, signaling the return of the final family member.
“Dad!” Taehyung screeches, jumping up and starting a mini stampede between the siblings.
“I’m home,” Yoongi calls from the doorway, and Seokjin can hear the breath leaving his spouse’s body as he is tackled in a swarm of hugs and tiny bodies.
“Boys, why don’t you share your snacks with your dad, too? I bet he’s hungry. He’s been working all day,” Seokjin calls, snickering quietly to himself.
“Yeah!” Hoseok yells, “Daddy, come try the snacks Mama made for us! I poured juice today all on my own!”
“I helped!” Taehyung chimed in.
“Try mine first!” Jimin tried to yell over his two brothers, leading Yoongi by a small hand grasped over his middle finger. Yoongi met Seokjin’s eyes with curiosity as he settled down at the table, immediately swarmed again by half eaten celery sticks. He took a bite of Jimin’s first, then Hoseok’s, then Namjoon’s and finally Taehyung’s, completely oblivious to the quiet camera shutter of Seokjin’s iPhone as he snapped picture after precious picture for his family album. At the very least, he could clean without having to worry about the kids making more messes because they were under Yoongi’s watch now. Seokjin’s lips curled at one end. Messes after this were Yoongi’s responsibility.