Chapter 39 – Lev ( לו )(heart) – September 2023
The three little DiNozzos were supposed to be napping; Ziva had put them in their beds and then walked to her office to work on her online Creative Writing class. It was the second of her required English classes for her degree; not the class she would have chosen had there been other options. But, once the class started, she'd found that she enjoyed it more than she thought she would. This week's assignment was to write a character study, focusing on developing the character's traits, behaviors, and speech patterns.
She had a plethora of real life characters from which to draw, from Tony to Gibbs, to her NCIS family, to her birth family. She finally chose Ducky as her model and wrote from her memories. As she clicked the 'upload content' button on her screen to submit her document, she heard giggling from the hallway.
Ziva looked at the time on her screen; crap, she'd been so caught up in writing her paper that she'd forgotten to check on the kids. It was now a bit over two hours since she'd put them down for naps. She sighed and pushed her chair away from the desk.
"Who is out there?" she called out as she stood.
"Rivka!" a second giggle could be heard. "And Beth and LJ. Ima we need a snack."
The three preschoolers followed Ziva to the kitchen; they sat at the breakfast nook table as she put straws into juice boxes and put animal crackers and peach slices into a bowl for each of the kids. She placed the snacks on the table in front of the kids and sat in the fourth chair.
"We drawed pictures for you, Ima," Rivka spoke with a mouthful of food.
LJ nodded, "Yep, pictures for Ima; lots of pretty pictures."
Ziva smiled at the youngsters, "Where are your pictures?"
"In the playroom," Beth answered, and shoved a peach slice in her mouth.
"Well, then when we are done with your snacks, you can show me your pictures."
"Okay, Ima," LJ shoved two animal crackers and most of a peach slice into his mouth. "Oieefa…"
"LJ! Don't talk with food in your mouth!" Rivka admonished her little brother. "It's not good manners; that's what they told us in preschool."
Beth bobbed her head in agreement, but said nothing. She had a mouthful of food and didn't want her twin scolding her.
"No one needs to eat quickly; we do not need to shove food in our mouths," Ziva looked at her baby when she spoke. "We have plenty of time to finish the snack and see your pictures before Tali and Anthony get home from school."
After the kids finished the cookies, fruit, and juice, each one put the empty juice box in the trash and the empty snack bowl on the counter by the sink. LJ almost forgot to put his bowl on the counter but Beth stopped him as he was trying to run out of the kitchen.
"You forgot something," she crossed her arms and glared at her little brother. "On the table," she pointed to where he had been sitting. "Your bowl…"
"Okay!" the little boy ran to the table and grabbed his bowl; then ran to the counter and nearly tossed it into the sink. "DONE!" he announced with a grin and ran out towards the playroom with his sisters following behind.
Ziva wiped the table and rinsed out the empty bowls before following the kids to the front of the house. She heard them talking before she rounded the corner into the playroom. When she did step into the room she stopped dead in her tracks.
"WHAT. HAVE. YOU. DONE?"
"We drawed pictures for you, Ima," LJ held his hand out with a flourish to indicate said pictures.
Rivka grinned, "Hearts and flowers just for you, Ima!"
Beth pointed to a red heart shape, "I drawed this one."
Ziva tried not to lose her cool, "On the wall? You drew on the wall with markers and crayons?"
"It's for you, Ima, because we love you," Rivka replied not even remotely grasping why her mother was getting upset.
"I thought we put the markers up on one of the high shelves," Ziva looked at the wall of bookcases. One of the kid-sized tables was near the shelves. "After you drew on the dogs…"
"We got 'em. Riv and me got on the table like the dogs. Then LJ stood on our backs," Beth explained to her mother. "We can show you…"
Ziva cut her off, "No need. Please, sit on the loveseat, all of you." She motioned to the loveseat by the windows, where they often read stories or sat quietly with tablets. The three children sat down quietly, knowing that the 'Ima glare' meant serious business.
Ziva took a deep breath and reminded herself that yelling would not be a good idea; three crying kids was not her ultimate goal. She looked at the three faces watching her and waiting for her to speak. Three faces who reflected both her and Tony; the faces of innocent children who, if Ziva had any control over it, would keep that innocence for far longer than either of their parents.
She pulled over one of the chairs and sat down in front of her offspring, "While I love the pictures and the thought that you drew them for me, you are also still in trouble. We have paper for drawing and you have the easel for the big paper." She pointed to the kid-sized easel with its white board and paper sides. "First, we DO NOT draw on the walls for any reason."
"But, Ima, we did it for you," Riv interrupted.
"Yeah, because we love you," Beth added.
LJ nodded, "Yup, love Ima lots." He grinned and gave her his best puppy eyes.
Ziva sighed; these kids were channeling their Abba at the moment. "We still do NOT draw on the walls. When you draw on paper or on the white board, when you get tired of looking at the picture or you want to make a new one, you can erase or put the old picture aside. When you draw on the wall, the picture does not go away very easily."
Three heads turned to their drawings on the wall, mouths slightly opened as though a ponderous thought had entered their minds. Ziva could see them coming to a realization, so she continued.
"To get the drawings off the wall, Abba or I will most likely have to paint the wall after scrubbing what we can get off. That will take a lot of time we could otherwise be spending with you and your sister and brother.
"Second, the markers were put up high for a reason. We explained to you that you could not use them without asking for permission. That is because of the incident with the dogs. Abba spent several hours washing marker off of Asher and Daisy."
"Oh," LJ reacted to his Ima's words. "We get time out?"
Ziva paused; she thought about her reply instead of immediately responding 'yes.' She looked at the decorated wall, the kids, and the markers and crayons spilled on the floor.
"No time out today," she replied. "But before you get all happy about it, let me tell you what you WILL get instead."
"Uh-oh," Beth nudged her twin. "She's got that look in her eyes…" Riv nodded and grabbed her sister's hand; they were in this together. Beth took LJ's hand as the little boy gave his mother a confused look.
Ziva watched the three little kids hold hands; they really did stick together when push came to shove. Their closeness firmed up the plan in her mind.
She started outlining the punishment, "Each of you will show me which pictures you drew on the wall. Then you will each be responsible for cleaning those pictures from the wall. Understood?"
The three nodded as she continued, "We will start with Leroy Jackson; please show me the pictures that you drew." The little boy pointed to the bright red crayon shapes that resembled hearts and the bright yellow crayon shapes that could pass for flowers.
"Did you use the markers?" she asked him.
"No, Ima. Riv and Beth hogged-ed them."
"Elizabeth?" Ziva watched as the younger twin pointed to her pictures. Most were drawn with markers but there were a few with crayons as well.
"Rivka?" The older twin pointed to her images; all were in marker. Several were quite large and the one Ziva was not sure could be removed was nearly eighteen inches across.
"Now that I know who drew which pictures, I can tell you what you will be doing for the next hour or so, under my supervision," she motioned for the children to follow her to the laundry room for the cleaning supplies.
She handed LJ a box of baking soda and an old toothbrush in a small bin. Rivka was given a sponge, a 'magic eraser' and a bottle of rubbing alcohol along with some disposable rags. Beth got two 'magic erasers' and a second old toothbrush.
The kids followed their Ima back to the playroom including the stop in the hall bath to partially fill the pan with water. She showed LJ and Beth how to dip the toothbrush in the water and then put some baking soda on the bristles to scrub the crayon marks. She set them at the chore and then showed Riv how to use the rag and some rubbing alcohol to dab at the marker on the wall.
The three worked at removing their artwork from the wall while Ima supervised, offering a helping hand when she could see one struggling. What she didn't tell them is that she had snapped a picture of their creations with her phone. Even though they had been naughty and drew on the wall, the sentiment that the pictures were for Ima was still sweet.
Forty five minutes later, Tali and Anthony came in the front door from the school bus. Tali stopped short when she noticed the three little kids scrubbing the walls. She nudged her brother.
"Bet they won't do that again," she spoke quietly.
Anthony grinned, "We sure didn't do it twice!"