A weekend in Honey Bunches of you-know-where!
It began with 15 simple, naive words: “Of COURSE I’ll come watch the kids while you two get away for the weekend!”
I look back on those words now, three days afterward, as I lie here on the floor with my knees on the ottoman, feeling the pleasant effects of the medication my doctor prescribed as it begins to relax the screaming muscles in my back. Fifteen words, my friend. That’s all it can take to set in motion a series of events that will indisputably remind you WHY you should be doing Pilates classes, weight training and aerobic conditioning...and why only young women should have children.
Please, you say, how hard can it be to take care of two boys, 7 and 9, and one little-bitty girl who just turned 3, especially when the boys will be gone to school one day? Well, I will tell you: darn hard!
I arrived Thursday night, so that my daughter and her husband could leave around 5 a.m. I never heard them leave, but that was only 50 minutes before Gracie awoke, climbed out of her “big-girl bed” and came to the gate in her doorway, where she proceeded to demand recognition, I think by clinking a tin cup back and forth across the “bars” like the prisoners in San Quentin.
By the time I’d put her Pull-Ups on (working on the potty training, so she can pull these off when she feels the need) and dressed her and we came downstairs, the boys were also down there and, God bless them, dressed in their uniforms and eating cereal. I handed out Gummi vitamins, poured juice, and put lunches in backpacks, while making scrambled eggs for Gracie, on whom you must NEVER turn your back. She wants to “help you” do everything, including things you didn’t even know you wanted to do, like feeding the stick of butter to the dog, or pouring the juice from her sippy cup into the eggs.
Somehow we got it all together by 7:15, time for the boys to go out and head next door for their ride to school with the neighbor’s little girl and her Dad. I was patting myself on the back, until Charlie opened the front door and Lucy (the aforementioned dog) took off outside like the proverbial bat out of you-know-where... in retrospect, this should have clued me in -- I should have packed a backpack and a lunch for Lucy and sung “Born Free.” But, at the time, all I could think of was Louise’s number one rule: Do NOT let Lucy run free, or, basically, all the fires of you-know-where will come down on your head.
Georgie and Charlie immediately dropped their backpacks and went chasing Lucy down the street screaming her name. The neighbor sat in his car with his daughter, his mouth hanging open in horror, which I though was a little much, until I realized that he was staring at Gracie, who had managed to let herself out the door and was standing on the porch, naked, yelling for Lucy and brandishing a box of Honey Bunches of Oats, which she then poured out in a lovely pile on the front steps.
It was obvious to the neighbor that I had quickly lost control of the situation, so he opened his window and hollered for Lucy, who came streaking back at that instant (why, I’ll never understand) the boys right behind her. Two minutes later, the car was driving off, Lucy was inside, and a newly-dressed Gracie and I were singing the “Clean Up” song from Barney as we scooped cereal off the brick steps.
We built approximately 723 block towers so she could knock them down. We painted pictures, drew with sidewalk chalk, sang and danced along with innumerable Wiggles and Dora episodes, went for walks, went to the bank and then to the grocery store. As I lifted this 35-pound child into the Harris Teeter shopping cart, I glanced at the clock up on the wall - it read 9:30.
Please, God, I thought, stunned, tell me this clock is broken. Tell me I do not still have two and a half hours to fill before her nap. I’m asking you nicely ... as a favor... please tell me this clock is wrong, and I promise never to ask for another thing in my life. But, the clock was not wrong. So, I went to the little Starbucks they have in Harris Teeter, and ordered the largest coffee with two shots of espresso for myself, and a doughnut for Gracie -- who is “absolutely, positively, categorically not allowed to have sugar, Mom!” - and, she settled happily down in Carb Heaven. A place I know well.
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website, www.vickiwentz.com.