Short Stuff, Big Problems

I can easily state that any summer afternoon I walk out the front door, I will find two or three of our children busily at play. They might ride their bikes. They may have set up house in their fort. Or some combination of tag and obstacle course. What we do not see most afternoons is #7 and #8 pushing the pink scooter over the side of the hill.

Play in their fort

Play in their fort

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Poolside Wonders

Fun in the SunMy parents wisely installed a pool at their house to insure that their children would always be within a close proximity, at least during half of the year. Even if their children don’t want to come over, their grandchildren would, if only to swim. And so I find myself almost drug by my children into my parents’ pool quite often.

This last weekend my mother broke out the barbeque. She ran the barbeque because my father was busy installing the new door she wanted. She also enticed my children over which in turn looped me into helping my father and brothers with the door. The truth be told, I did very little.

The most help I lent to the project was to chase my children away from the construction and back into the pool. It felt like herding ducks back and forth. They all seemed to scatter when I approached and I had to catch them one at a time and toss them back into the water. Yet, their curiosity kept pulling them back to the sound of hammers and nails.

Thankfully the door was finished about the same time as the hotdogs. Children, sopping wet, waited in line for hotdogs right off the grill. As they munched their meal, they formed up another line to inspect the new door. Once they had approved it, they found their own places on the deck to eat.

In the relative calm, my mother was picking up loose tools to help put them away. When she came across a cup filled with nails she inquired where it should be put. My youngest brother responded, “Don’t worry about it mom. Those are bad nails.”

My mother set the paper cup down on a chair to toss into the trash later. My children heard something about “bad nails” that drew their interest. They again formed their own line to peer into the cup one at a time to see what “bad nails” looked like. After satisfying their curiosity they again set down to finish their meal.

It never ceases to amaze me how children can at times be so civilized, yet, be so disordered at other times. And people wonder why I am already turning gray.Relaxing at the Pool

Mid Summer Nights

I must say that one of the nicest features about the summer time is the summer nights. I do not mean the summer night-life, or concerts in the park, or bonfires at the beach. I simply like the warm air and the late sunset; those are the perfect conditions to send ALL the children outside after dinner, giving Wife and myself about an hour of relative silence before somebody bothers someone else, or gets hurt; often both.

As the children finish eating they dart out the screen door in ones and twos in the order which they are done. #1 and #2 were the first to exit the house the other night with #2 shouting after her big sister in a near panic, “Wait-up!” #4 was able to bargain with Wife her way out, somehow without finishing her plate. #5 was fixed to the table by Wife’s command that he did have to finish his plate. (In Wife’s defense she dished #4 far more than was given #5.) #6 was wandering under the table, bumping knees and becoming an all around bother of #5. And when Wife and I left the table, #3 walked into the room after us surprisingly quick with a suspiciously empty plate. Suffice it to say, we parents had our quiet and the children had the full run of the outside world. The universe was at peace.

Wife and I set to chatting about the day in the twilight quiet hour. As I washed off the day’s grime she was occupied by the endless task called #7. In the middle of our employment #2 knocked on the bedroom door. As I was in the bathroom I could only hear something about finding a hat and #1 would not give it up… I think… maybe. Here’s a thought, where did the hat come from? Oh dear, I hope they did not find it out in the underbrush! If so, Wife is going to be irritated (lice scare again). But it must not have been so, for Wife shouted from behind the baby changing table, through the door, and into the equally dense head of #2, “GO PLAY NICE!”

All too quickly the sun set completely and I was forced to deal with my children as they staggered into the house. Again another dilemma, #1 threw #2’s toy knife into the dark, and #2 was very quick to remind me, “It’s dark outside!”

“Here’s a flashlight, now all of you go outside and find it. And You! Don’t throw your sister’s toys!” A dejected crew walked outside, except #2 who was quite happy to find her knife and hold the flashlight.

Then I looked for the missing boys. #6 was easy to find, just follow the screams. And there he was yelling about something that would neither hurt him nor give him harm in any way. I left him alone. #5 was asleep at the table, meal still unfinished. I left him where he was as well. They would all be going to bed soon anyway.

Once the children were brushed and cleaned, they began to file into me for a ‘good-night.’ As I hugged #2 I was startled. The night-shirt she was wearing looked fine from the front, however the entire back of the garment was completely and permanently gone like some weird magician’s trick.

The little girl held the back of her impromptu medical gown closed as she scampered away. I turned to Wife with a question, “Her favorite shirt?”