I hope all of you had a nice Thanksgiving. I did. I had guests in for the day, but since my guests had four legs, I didn’t have to do a lot of preparation. Some friends of mine were going to be out of town so their dogs came over to visit with mine while they were gone. It was warm enough that I could leave the door to the dog lot open and they could all come and go as they pleased. All in all, it was a lovely quiet day.
My sister had guests for Thanksgiving too, her four grandchildren and their parents. Since the children range in age from 2 to 8, I’m sure her day wasn’t as quiet as mine, but I know she enjoyed it. Since they were all from out of town and staying with my sister and her husband, my sister decided to give the parents a gift. She offered to watch the kids all day Friday and let the parents have the day to do as they pleased, whether they wanted to join the hordes in the stores or find a quiet spot for lunch.
And since I hadn’t seen her grandchildren since last summer, my sister decided a visit to my house was in order. A shudder of panic passed through me when she called to say she and her husband would be arriving in about an hour with all four kids.
Let me explain a little. I may be a retired teacher, but I taught high school. I’m one of the few adults who actually likes teenagers, but I am not and never have been a little kid person. I can take them one at a time, and even enjoy them for a limited amount of time, but four at one time? Just the idea of that strikes fear in my heart.
My house is not kid proof by any stretch of the imagination. There are too many things they can use to hurt themselves, and just as many things that they can ruin. I have notes on index cards scattered all over my den and office and plot outlines on my white board. I have folders filled with maps, calendars, and more notes all over the work table in my office. And I have a shredder. Disaster in the making.
After the first moment of panic, I realized that I had two things in my favor. I knew my house better than they did and I’m taller. Within minutes I had gathered notes, index cards, pencils, and pens and stashed them on top of plates and bowls on the top shelves of my kitchen cabinets. My clipboards, tablet, and kindle ended up on a hidden shelf inside an old TV cabinet in the living room. My folders were stacked and stashed at the back of one of my file drawers. And the shredder cord was disconnected. I took a picture of my whiteboard just in case someone found the eraser and pens. My flashlights were buried under the kitchen towels in a drawer. (We have a lot of power failures in this area. I have flashlights in every room. Last time they all came, one of the kids decided to remove all the batteries and bulbs to see how they worked. Took forever to get them all sorted.)
My sister took the whole crew to their very favorite place to eat on the way over here – McDonald’s. They all came in with their happy meals so we cleared the kitchen table and let them eat their lunch. After we cleaned up, my sister pulled out a big plastic box full of art supplies.
I have to admit, my sister’s smart. She’d bought several children’s coloring books, cut the pages out, and put them in that box, along with a huge box of crayons and three canvas rolls of colored pencils. (Yeah, my sister’s an artist.) Each of the four kids dug through the box to find a picture to color. As soon as one was done, they pulled another one out and started again. They spent a couple of hours coloring away while my sister, her husband, and I visited and kept an eye on things. Most pleasant couple of hours I’ve ever spent around little ones. And best of all, no damage was done – to them or to my stuff.
So, lesson learned. Get a big plastic box. Fill it with pages of coloring books and tons of crayons and colored pencils so the next time someone calls and tells me little ones are on the way, I’ll be ready. Just clear off the kitchen table, set the box in the middle, and relax. It’s handled.