Yesterday we had some friends come over for brunch, and that was exciting because I generally just hide in my cave, all alone, coming out briefly for food and laundry and to comment that the light, it buuuuuurns.
In preparation for this event, we dusted and vacuumed (because we do those things once a year, whether the house needs it or not!), and made some brunchy foods, and tried to prepare the children. You see, Chris and Karen have three children—a 4-year-old son and 3-year-old twin daughters.
To Chickadee, we said: We expect you to help with the little kids. To Monkey, we said: If there’s anything you don’t want the little kids touching, you need to put it up high or close it in your room. Just telling them “no” may not work, and you can’t get mad about that. Also, they may be loud. It’s okay to take a break if you need to. To Licorice, we said: Good luck, pup.
This turned out to be just the right amount of prep.
I have seen many, many pictures of the three kids who burst into my kitchen, and I feel like I can now say with confidence that they are even cuter and more squishable in person. Suddenly there was a maelstrom of activity—a small boy wielding a Harry Potter lights-and-sound wand, two little girls down on all fours, barking at the dog—and watching them was infinitely more entertaining than the Emmys.
Chickadee went straight into babysitter mode, following the kids around and gently redirecting when necessary. I love seeing her be so solicitous with little ones. Monkey adopted a perpetual look of cautious worry, because small children are loud! And unpredictable! And what if they tried to TOUCH something? He kept coming back to me to tattle on something one of the three had done, like… touching things. I decided to find his consternation amusing rather than frustrating.
Licorice… oh, poor Licorice. She loves kids. She wanted to sniff them all and maybe give them some puppy kisses, but they kept lunging at her and she was clearly conflicted. Do I run away? But they smell like FOOD! Eventually each small child was given a scrap of food to share with her, and for her part, Licorice was happy to endure their ministrations for her just rewards.
We adults ate and talked (as much as we could, inbetween refereeing the swarm of children) and made merry, and eventually we all adjourned to the family room, where Chickadee set the littles up with Lego Rock Band so that instead of just fighting over toys, we could have some serious eye injuries with drum sticks and guitar necks. (I kid. No one was injured. Except in their delicate pride.)
All too soon, the girls were signaling that they were nearing nap time, and we helped get everyone and everything loaded up into their van. Offers were made to take Chickadee home with them so that she could continue to help, and my girl giggled and ducked her head and tried not to show how pleased she was. Monkey came out into the driveway and helpfully offered, several times, “your kids are escaping!”
When it was mentioned how sorry we were that it hadn’t been warm enough to swim, one twin told me she would be back when the pool was warm. The other insisted she would see me again in SEVEN DAYS. (“Six? How about eight?” I asked. “SEVEN!” she insisted.) And at one point I was full-body tackled by Chris and Karen’s son, who leapt out of the van like a spider monkey, and held on to me until I offered to keep him with us if he wanted to stay. He opted to go home with his family, but I told him to come back any time.
Once our visitors were gone, we came back inside to our now strangely-quiet house. “Wasn’t that FUN?” I said to my family, thinking about how I’d once wanted an entire houseful of kids.
“That was EXHAUSTING!” said Monkey. “I’m going upstairs to REST!”
I think my family is the perfect size as it is, but I’m glad we have some localish friends who can come visit and let me play with their littles. That was super fun. Even if the rest of my family is not-so-secretly relieved that we won’t be having any more babies of our own.