My friend Meg recently told the rest of the Ohio 5 that, if she and her husband meet an untimely demise, she had assigned each of her children to one of us for safekeeping. She has four, so that works out, except it doesn’t work out at all because you can’t split four kids up in the event of their parents’ untimely demise.
And this past weekend confirmed that I’m not taking all four of them.
Meg and her family ventured out from Ohio to me for a Spring Break visit. And the kids, who are 5, 4, 2 and 7 months, were darling. But there are four of them. And they make noise. And one of them kept throwing up.
Seriously, though – I have lots of experience with and patience for kids. The kids were totally fine. They are very well-behaved and very well-mannered and they will eat anything (except “artificials,” because somehow my dear friend who I love has managed to feed her children nothing with artificial ingredients despite being on the dole because her boorish husband refuses to take up anything that provides steady pay…or any pay).
But, as parents everywhere but mostly who read this blog will understand, they wore my single, childless ass out.
Also, I inherited a nasty cold from my darling nephew on Easter Sunday that kicked into gear a few days ago and contributed to the exhaustion. Jesus is risen, but I’m down for the count.
The tribe arrived at my house Friday morning, bright and early, after spending the first part of their vacation somewhere else. They arrived from their hotel having not fed themselves. I wasn’t surprised; in fact, I had expected and prepared for this because one time they visited Joey (he gets the third kid) at his mom’s house in Ohio, having changed the plan from just Meg and one kid to the whole family descending, and the Boor sat on his duff and demanded lunch and dinner. But the Boor surprised me by making their breakfasts himself.
I had to go to work, of course, so they decided to make use of the day by being touristy. By the time they arrived back at my house, with keys and the alarm code, it was 10:45pm. I got home at 10:55. The kids were doing okay, but #3 was clearly in the early stages of Meltdown Mode despite having slept on the train, and #4 was getting very fussy. He has a terrible cold, too, and was hacking up a tiny little lung between wails. I knew how he felt.
Kids 1, 2 (that one’s mine) and 3 bedded down together in my basement, all in a row in the queen sized bed. #4 slept in a cushion on the floor in my room, which Meg and the Boor were using for the weekend. The grown-ups managed to toddle off to our respective beds around 1:30am. We were up at 7, with me in the kitchen making an egg bake full of veggies, because the kids love veggies.
I had used some professional capital to score a few free tickets to the children’s museum. I had never been there, but clearly I had to do something with these kids, and the museum wasn’t far away. So by 10:30am we were on our way to fun and adventure in the city’s largest Petri dish.
Honestly, all I could think, with my chest-rattling, throat-ripping cough and progressively stuffy head, was Germs. Germs germs germs. Snot. Poo. Germs.
I never used to think that way. But apparently in my stage of life, when I’m in a building full of howler-monkeys whose paws are all over everything, I can’t avoid it. Ironic, I know, considering I myself was a cesspool of infection. But I coughed into the crook of my arm, Purelled my hands every hour and tried not to touch anything. When I headed into a bathroom and saw myself in the mirror, a tired, watery red-eyed woman looked back. I washed my hands in hot water and used the paper towel to open the door.
When I wasn’t trying to track four kids at a time, I amused myself watching the other kids’ parents. Mostly the dads. They were all wandering around in running shoes or Tevas, high-end cameras around their necks, seemingly pretending to enjoy parental involvement on this early spring Saturday with their hover-mother wives. With newly-sprouted pot bellies and graying hair, they seemed to send up thought bubbles… “What has happened to my life? I used to sleep til noon. And then drink beer and watch basketball in my shorts.”
For a while, I sat in the tiny tot playroom with Meg and #s 3 and 4 while they ran or scooted about sock-footed and #4 gummed plush toys that I’m sure no other child had ever gummed before. Ick. Into our section came four hover mothers and their little ones. Their names were Phoenix, Mason, Morgan and Rain.
I tried not to bang my head against anything. No offense to any of you who may have kids with these names. It’s just that when they’re all in one place like that, it sort of makes me roll my eyes. I know trendy names have been cool since the 90s, but sometimes I think this generation’s parents compete with each other to find out who can fill a teacher’s classroom with the most pretentious set of monikers.
Soon Phoenix, Mason, Morgan, Rain and their hover mothers were joined by their camera-wielding fathers/husbands. Who looked at each other occasionally with glances that seemed to say, “Wanna go to the bar?”
After that, Meg and #3 and I went to another room meant for water play. Yep. Water play. #3 happily threw toys into a shallow table-pool full of pumps and sprinklers and the like, squealing and clapping and splashing around, and I obsessed over how many of the kids had put the toys in their mouths or grabbed them with grubby hands they’d just pulled out of their pants. I watched a baby nom on the edge of the table. Meg barely reacted when #3 suckled the top of a toy boat and soaked the front of her shirt. Another kid bent over and drank straight from the table’s 1.5″ of what I’m sure was super-clean and freshly filtered water.
Ew ew ew.
After hours of playing and picking up e. Coli and stuff, plus a walk around the touristy downtown spots and a very late lunch at which #3 whined until the Boor ordered her to lie down in the booth, at which time she promptly fell asleep, we piled back into the Volvo station wagon with the Jesus-related license plate. Upon approaching my neighborhood, the Boor parked the car at the park instead, and we all climbed out. The Boor ignored all hints, subtle and otherwise, about #1 needing a bathroom and me needing a couch, water and a chance to prep dinner. And this was six hours before I practically crawled upstairs to bed.
Up at 7. Pancakes and bacon. The Boor talking to me about democracy vs. fascism vs. oligarchy vs. something else I had no mental stamina to give a shit about at any time, let alone 7am. Lots and lots of questions from the kids. After eating, unable to breathe and completely lacking in energy, I sat on my couch while the Boor did the dishes and Meg repacked their bags. I did #1′s hair in a style like my own and answered more questions. Meg asked if I was tired of them yet.
The questions. Not her family.
They left at 9;30am. I had spent a total of about 39 hours with them. And I spent the next 13 on the couch, trying to recover. I reported to our friend Angie (she gets #1) on how things went with a single sentence.
“Dude, I could never hack parenthood.”