Caffeine is usually not too much of an issue with us

Tuesday for New Year’s Eve we went to eat at one of those hibachi-style restaurants for dinner with some friends. Totally copying my sister-in-law and the tradition she started with her family, those restaurants have become our New Year’s Eve tradition with the kids.

When the server came around to take our drink orders, the big kids jumped on the New-Year’s-Eve-is-party-time idea, as well as the we’re-with-friends-and-the-parents-won’t-say-anything idea, and ordered Coke.

Caffeine is usually not too much of an issue with us and they can have it while eating out at lunch, but dinner is another story, seeing as how it’s so close to bedtime. But they tried to get away with it, and as the server asked them what they wanted to drink G and Little Missy each looked at us out of the corners of their twinkling eyes, pushing the boundaries and watching to see if we’d put the kibosh on it. Without a word, the answer passed between the brains of Hubby and me: “Eh, who cares.”

Dinner went well. We chatted with our friends and the big kids giggled with each other in between pestering each other, but on the ride home it changed. Suddenly the caffeine that had been silently coursing through their veins grabbed hold of its host and awoke every cell in G’s and Little Missy’s bodies all at the same time.

The singing started and the not-funny jokes started, as well as the loud laughing in immediate response to the not-funny jokes started, and Hubby and I looked at each other and again, without a word to each other, we both figured they’d crash out early and not make their goal of watching the ball drop. That level of energy was unsustainable, even with caffeine.

Almost home, Hubby first turned into the Headley Funeral Chapel and stopped the car. “You guys need to run three laps around the parking lot to get out some of your energy before we get home.” Their energy had not lessened one iota on the ride home. Thinking it a fun idea, those little cuties obeyed without a complaint and got out to run laps in the dark. The first lap was at full speed, the second slower, and the third they limped along, holding the cramps in their sides. They got back in the vehicle tired but chatty. CHATTY, people.

At home the energy continued in the form of laughing and wrestling, and the expending of energy only produced more energy. Then we gave them ice cream (Another tradition! And I like my traditions. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten the sugar to add to the caffeine.) and all of us laid down in front of our pre-planned movie.

None of them fell asleep. Not one, not even Baby Chickadee who hadn’t had any caffeine (“Woot beer pop! Cuz it’s my fav-wit.”). It’s like she picked up the caffeine that escaped from her brother and sister’s bodies and absorbed it into her own.

Mid-movie, seeing as how this really was going to last til they watched the ball drop in Times Square, Hubby and I came up with a most dastardly plan: turn the clock in the kitchen forward. It’s the only one they ever check. So we put on our liar liar pants of fire and Hubby moved the clock forward, with the hope that celebrating midnight on New York time would be good enough.

The movie ended just in time, and at 11 o’clock we ushered in 2014 with the East Coast, none of our children the wiser. And not one child fell asleep for another hour, so we totally could have celebrated with the Central Time Zone and not lied to our sweet, trusting children.

Lesson learned: caffeine plus holiday is never a good idea.

Erin Fox is a busy wife and mother of three. She is a weekly columnist for the Times- Gazette.