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.
My youngest is five so three and four is too recent to be nostalgic for me. Other people’s babies and toddlers, though, don’t exactly make me want more kids, but do make me happy I once had babies and toddlers, if that makes sense.
And we loved every single second of it. Your kids were fantastic to our kids. Absolutely wonderful. Otto was his usual dry-witted, calming self. And you were just you, which is pretty and perfect. Our place next time.
p.s. I did think I might like three for a while, another boy specifically, so that my son wouldn’t be the only male in the family but it wasn’t in the cards and he doesn’t seem to mind anyway. The girl is much more gender-conscious and would have been seriously put out to be the only girl in otherwise male family, so I guess everything worked out.
I completely agree with Monkey.
I’m exhausted just reading about the activity.
Myself and several other wives of deployed Soldiers decided we would all celebrate a friend’s birthday with a dinner out. We are all average sized families on our own. All together, however, made for 7 women and 15 kids under the age of 9. Yes, I said, 15.
All of us left certain we are done with babies. Also, we’re pretty certain our poor college-student waitress may be childless forever.
I wanted 4.
I had a boy. That was nice and fun and cute (in the “I don’t know how to be a parent with a newborn” kind of way).
Then I had a girl. And all hell broke loose! (lol)
There has been no time to think about more children since then…and there probably won’t be. Even though the girl has learned to sleep through the night finally (she’s almost 4).
2 seems like the perfect number here too…
You can come to my house anytime you want to enjoy the chaos yet still be able to escape to home again ;) It’s always crazy here! The only downfall that I can see so far is that one day my younger 4 will be at the teenage years TOGETHER.. I already have 2 teens and that’s hard enough to handle, I can’t imagine having 4 teens at once LOL!
Small children and kittens – oh so nice to play with, IF you can give ’em back at the end (or hand ’em over when they are cranky or needy or leaking from one end or another!)
And we loved being with you! We’ll get some sleep….someday! Until then, we’ll be subscribers to the wine of the month club.
I only had one baby but, since I have 5 step-children, there are already 5 grandchildren and grandchildren are the most wonderful invention ever because you can play with them,spoil them, cuddle them and kiss them and feel much less anxious than you did with your child(ren) when they were tiny and they hug you and say I love you and then they or you go home. Perfect bliss!
I completely understand. It is so much fun loving on those little one. But it’s even better when you can hand them off when they start to fuss or need their diaper changed.
This post makes me miss my great nephew.
I had the kids I nanny and their neighbours over a few weeks back, just because … so that made for 6 kids, two 2 year olds, a 4, two 5s and a 6or7. (I can’t remember quite how old the eldest is, as it’s one of the neighbour kids). It was a beautiful day so we were mostly outside – but my grandfather turned his hearing aids off half way through the visit ;)
I think borrowing babies (and tots) is the best way to go. I borrowed two little girls yesterday. I even combed out just-washed hair. Their mom said it was the first time it had been combed without screaming, so I must have done something right. My boys don’t really know what a comb or brush is for.
There are days when I wish mine were visiting! ;-)
It sounds like everyone had as good of a time as could reasonably have been hoped. FWIW, Noah also reports on people touching things at every possible opportunity. I was hoping he would grow out of that….
My babysitter (whose oldest child is actually a little older than mine–had a BABY. A fantastic, adorably, laughing, squishable baby who is now one year old and how we love him! And squeeze his chubby legs! And look at him and not her when she holds him and tries to talk to us, and hold him and squeeze him and did I say squeeze him?
And then he cries or poops, and we give him back. And that is the very best part.
“I decided to find his consternation amusing rather than frustrating.” Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could do this all the time, with everything?
Sounds like a perfectly enjoyable break from reality for everyone! My friend across the street has littles the same ages as my girls. Occasionally we crash at each others’ houses for a few hours just because the change in scenery seems to turn the kiddos into completely well-behaved strangers. :)
Sounds like an enjoyable change to have another family over for brunch. I have a 10-yr. girl and an 8-yr. boy myself. My son is pretty mild for a boy and when I have others over…it really proves true.