When the grandkids all go home, strange things abound
BY ANNE BARDSLEY
There’s a Jurassic Park village under my sofa. I discovered this after my grandkids headed home from an extended vacation. They (the dinosaurs) range in color from bright green to a toasty brown. Their teeth are jagged and white. Some stand on four legs while others have two tiny, disproportionate arms. I’m hoping they eat dust balls because we have a dust storm going on under there. I almost swept them up, but the winged dinosaur with the large gills and big teeth scared me off.
I’ve found other relics
In addition to pre-historic creatures, six tiny toothbrushes are scattered all over the house. If our dog, Murphy, even gets a sniff of toothpaste, he goes on a hunt. It’s like catnip to a kitten. Last week I chased him for an hour trying to get a pink, fairy toothbrush out of his minty, fresh mouth. We only had three little ones here. How many teeth do these kids have that they need all these toothbrushes?
We have a bright pink, musical guitar that screeches “Oh yeah! Rock it!” over and over again, if anything remotely grazes the darn thing. We have a ukulele with one working string that was a favorite for dance show nights. My living room looked like a nightclub when the dance contests began. There was twirling, shaking, clapping, and laughter all at one time.
And things under my bed
I found sixteen mini-chocolate bar wrappers under my bed. When my husband would try to sneak away, the kids would follow. Like three little soldiers, they marched into the bedroom. Propped up on my side of the bed, they’d scream, “Pop, candy!” and wait impatiently, giggling. Their Pop had stashed a bag of mini-chocolate bars in his nightstand for this nightly tradition. He’d throw four bars at the time into the air. They’d scramble on the bed to grab one. There was a lot of lip smacking and smiling as they devoured their piece. If Pop was lucky, one of them would feed him the extra one.
And an airport in my living room
I have an international airport carpet in my dining room. It’s covered with planes and trains and automobiles. Each one has a voice. If I try to sneak out for a glass of water during the night and step anywhere near that carpet, things come alive and sing. Did I mention a family of minions who respond to loud noises or a tired woman cursing in the night? (I only know this because I stepped on the pink musical guitar.) There’s also a red motorcycle that doesn’t have a muffler and sounds like a real Harley. It’s delightful at 3:00 a.m.
Outside there’s alligators and sharks and . . .
My front porch is decorated in a green pool filled with alligators, sharks, turtles, frogs, and snakes. There are a few baby dolls getting bathed as well. Most of my storage containers, without lids, are there too. A bubble machine that dances in circles has expelled over a thousand bubbles. I now need slip-proof shoes to get the morning paper.
When I’d empty the pool and refill it, the fun really began. Three sets of little hands would fight for the hose. This means that the water was shooting everywhere. We were all drenched trying to get a lousy few inches of water into the pool. That’s when I had to get very creative and tell them that the purple frogs in the pool were hyperventilating. They stood at full attention watching their grandmother make odd puffing faces and shake her frog-like legs. It was actually a dreadful thing to show them what a hyperventilating frog looked like, but I was desperate, and the distraction helped me actually get water into the pool.
Other things they left behind
My laundry room is full! The entire room is full. How can three little people wear so many clothes? There are 36 pairs of miniature shorts, 8 bathing suits, and 40 tops. I don’t have a single towel in the hall closet. Beach towels were dumped in the laundry room, which means I have enough sand to make my own beach. I found a few dinosaurs and sharks in the last load of wash. I immediately sang, “Da da da da,” Jaws soundtrack that we sang at tubby time. There is still a convoy of multi-colored tugboats on my bathtub ledge.
The dogs resurfaced
Now that they’ve all gone home, the two dogs have come out of hiding. Considering the “special attention” they got from the kids, they deserve a box of treats. From a simple pat of “Good dog,” that quickly turned into overly energetic whacks of love, the dogs behaved. Once they knew the kids could reach the treat bags, they were following them around giving them their paws, rolling over and doing pirouettes. The dogs gained four pounds.
My pantry still contains pouches of fruit snacks, Goldfish crackers, and a dozen sippy cups. Three special decorated plates with matching forks and spoons have a special place next to the fruit snacks. It’s very neat.
Order is restored!
My house is back in order now. My floors don’t have pizza sauce, dried up mac ‘n’ cheese noodles or spilt juice stains anymore. The laundry is finally finished. I’ve silenced all of the minion’s buttons. The creatures are all back in the toy box. The dump trucks, front-end loaders, and sand toys are all boxed away. The baby dolls have been dried out and dressed in pretty outfits. I even combed their hair. The tea parties are over. The storage containers are back in the pantry, still missing their lids.
All is silence
There are no more little knocks on my bedroom door asking, “Gigi and Pop, you awake?” Nobody asks for Hershey syrup in his or her milk. There isn’t a single little body attached to my hip, smiling at me. When I sit on the sofa I’m not covered with little people either. I don’t spill my coffee trying to break up fights over who will sit on Gigi’s lap first thing in the morning.
My house is almost clean. I just can’t bring myself to clean off all their little fingerprints on my glass storm door. I’ve gotten out the window cleaner four times, but then I use the paper towel to dry my tears. The dinosaurs can stay under my sofa and guard those fingerprints until they come again.
Anne Bardsley is the author of How I Earned My Wrinkles . . . Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause. She barely survived raising five children and is grateful she didn’t strangle them as teens because she now has three beautiful grandchildren. She lives with her husband of thirty-seven years and two chubby cockapoos, in St. Pete, Florida. She frequently confuses her age and bra size.