by Charles W. Dowdy
What a mother-in-law! Agreeing to keep our four young children for almost a week while your daughter and I get some well-deserved R&R is going above and beyond the call of duty! I hope this doesn't have anything to do with that little comment I made at Christmas dinner about your "hands off" grandparenting skills. I know firsthand how hard this parenting gig is, and you raised four kids yourself. You and Dad deserve some carefree years while you still have some mobility left. What kind of guy would I be to begrudge you the six cruises you took last year while your daughter and I struggled to keep your namesakes in diapers? Quite simply, we're at different stages in life. I say "banana," you say "Bahamas."
Anywho. The bride is scribbling away on her list for your stay. Soccer at three. Dancing at four. Homework every night. No juice after seven. Blah, blah, blah.
I thought I would take it upon myself to give you a REAL survival list. Let's face it, you aren't exactly moving as fast as you used to, and some accurate information might give you the edge that could be the difference between a sore back and months of traction (like last time).
First and foremost, the two cousins across the street are a tad dangerous. What can I say, they're half Scottish. It is probably something in their genes that drives them to stand naked near busy streets and swing sharp metal objects. Well, under no circumstances are my children to be left unsupervised with these hooligans and, on a similar note, cover your shins if you're going to try to discipline one of them.
Next, my children love board games. After dinner we will sometimes play them for hours. Simple advice to follow here: Let the oldest kid win. I'm sure in your world you think about fair play and all that, but in a kid's world the strongest rules. You let his little sister win at Sorry and she's gonna be the one who is sorry when her older brother gets her alone in a closet.
As you can see from the potted plants and the piles of soil, I've left a bit of spring planting unfinished. I know how much you appreciate your time in the yard, so I set aside a few out there for you to plant in your spare time. There are some work gloves and a new pair of size seven boots in the storeroom. The potting soil is in the side yard, the wheelbarrow in the garage. (Oh, and unless you want another scar on your granddaughter's forehead, please keep the shovels away from those Scottish cousins.)
Now, at night you'll notice we have a bit of a bedlessness issue. For some reason our children are incapable of sleeping more than two hours in the same place. Most nights there are so many bodies in the bed when I wake up I don't know if I'm living in a four-bedroom house in Pike County or a one-room shanty in Bangladesh.
As a self defense mechanism I have instituted the Night March. This is where I flee from bed to bed, letting them trail behind me until the little boogers get so tired they just drop where they are, scattered all over the house.
Oh, and about the time you wear everyone out with the Night March, the yelping dog will kick in. That's Molly, that shy black dog your daughter adopted, letting you know she might like to get outside.
If your daughter were there she would sleep through this. And I have tried to do so myself. But this yelping can sound intense to the untrained ear. Quite honestly, it'll sound like Molly's dying of canine malaria, but some wench down the street lets her dog out at daybreak and I think this mutt does the doggie equivalent of thumbing his nose at Molly through the window. Of course, I have been wrong about Molly's intentions. If you have your doubts, then step smartly when you leave the bedroom. When Molly has an accident she likes to kind of spread it around.
Well, that's about it. Stick with these simple rules and you should be fine. Have a great time and we'll see you next month -- I mean next week. Ha, ha, ha!
P.S. Haven't quite gotten the twins potty trained yet. If you could work on that, that would be really peachy.
Charles Dowdy is the father of four and the husband of one. He's a freelance columnist for several Mississippi newspapers. Editors may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Dowdy's web site is not to be missed! He has to be one of the funniest, most irreverent writers in the South . . . or anywhere. Go see!
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