One of Luca’s oldest friends came to spend some time with us in California. He and his three children, ages 8, 11 and 14, stayed at our house for a few days. It was a fascinating experience, sociologically speaking.
When I was a kid I solemnly swore I’d never, ever be like a grown up. I wrote this sacred vow across the top page of my diary. In fact, the diary itself was meant as a reminder to a future me; inoculation against whatever it was that possessed adults, causing them to forget all that was important.
It took me 12 seconds flat to turn into my parents.
I put these kids on a regimented schedule so I could holler “Time for breakfast! Time for a bath! Bed time!” and, my personal favorite “No, not in two minutes. Now!”
I said “shhhh!” a lot. I made them eat their fruit and vegetables before they could open bags of chips or eat cookies. To their whiny “but, whyyy?” I’d quickly retort “because I say so”.
In my defense, kids are noisy. They yell, opine, scream, complain, bang, weigh in, listen to (atrocious) music, and thump around like elephants.
They are chaotic. They each have different requirements and demands (Hot milk. Cold milk. Strawberry cereal. Banana without the mushy part. Can I please have some conditioner? My hair is all tangly!)
They are crazy expensive. They are perpetually thirsty, hungry and needy. I usually shop for two people who don’t eat a whole lot. We struggle to finish a liter of milk in a week. With three kids in the house (and an extra adult), I bought milk by the gallon. They went through a dozen bananas a day. Boxes of cereal. One day, I made chocolate chip cookies (big hit) and they were gone before the cookie sheet had a chance to cool off. I’m just glad they left before I needed to start worrying about cars, college educations and weddings.
Kids are messy (and smelly). The youngest one had the habit of walking around the house while dragging her sticky hands across the wall (which I hereby swear didn’t made me cringe – I was more amused than disturbed.) A straw was inserted somewhat heartily into the apple juice, sending apple juice squirting all over (easy to wipe) counters, floors and chairs. Their shoes smell of feet (and so did the entrance to the house, since everyone left shoes there.)
These creatures. Never. Get. Tired. After taking in their energy and bounciness I determined that the best course of action was to take them outside. We went to the beach. Played basketball. Went for a hike. Walked the dog. Had a picnic. Went bowling. They were still bouncy on the way back home. And woke up the next morning hungry again, bouncy again, needy again. As Joan Cusack so eloquently put it: “The thing about kids is that they just keep coming at you.”
I was very happy to share my time and space with these amazing characters, but was equally happy to supervise their packing and departure. Now excuse me while I go for a long walk. Alone.
Photo: me on a long walk, alone.