Being a Guardian

July 13, 2004

Brent and Crystal have raised good kids so far. Annika and Jake are tough, active little ones. No one ever stops to whine over a bruise; they just pick themselves up and keep moving, no matter what happens. On the other hand, I've heard Jake scream loud enough to blast paint off of a wall when he was put to bed. And I've heard him keep this up for 30 minutes or more. So keeping them for a weekend was certain to be an adventure.


A good photo of the playroom demographics. Grown ups, kids, and dogs. More pictures.

The plan during the day was this: call the big room upstairs the play room. Load cartoons on the TV, dump toys all over the floor, throw in a couple of dogs, and let the pandemonium happen naturally. This was a good formula. Everyone had fun, including the adults.

Once the small, overpopulated room made me claustrophobic, we headed out for an excursion. We took a rain-shortened trip to the park. Even though it was raining, Jake threw his only tantrum when we left. It didn't last too long, though. Then, we went to see Mike the Tiger and let the dogs run around out in the grass. The rain stopped, so we stayed out there for a while. Then it was to home for supper and baths.

I have to admit, I am masterful at putting kids to bed. Like I mentioned, Jake can raise the dead screaming about bedtime, so evening had me nervous. I started early, and gave them the option of going to bed or laying down to watch Finding Nemo without talking. No one was crazy about the laying down and not talking rule, but the option beat going to bed. Jake kept getting up.

"Do you want to go to bed? If not, you have to lie down." He would fuss a little bit, but lie down. Anything beats going to bed, I guess.

A cycle of squirming, talking, getting up and going back down ensued for 45 minutes or so. I thought Jake would be the troublemaker, but he actually settled in quickly while Annika squirmed around restlessly. "Why can't we watch the movie standing up?" she asked.

"That's just the rules," was my grammatically challenged reply. It's funny how automatically the most asinine parental quote jumps right out of your mouth when it's needed.

Finally, everyone settled in and watched quietly like they were supposed to. Annika asked me to get up on the fold-out bed with them, so I squeezed in between her and Daisy (who was happy to lie down quietly on the bed all along).

Annika asked, "Have I ever stayed up this late before?" I looked at my watch. 8:15. Apparently, she hadn't noticed the twilight behind the blinds. Surely the girl gets to stay up until it's dark from time to time.

"Yeah, I think you've probably made it this late before."

You can't tell because of the flash, but this was the layout of the room when everyone had to be still and quiet. This is toward the end of the wakefulness, as the camera flash didn't elicit a comment, complaint, or even a question. More pictures.

By 8:30, she confessed that she might go ahead and fall asleep. I assured her that I was fine with that, and went downstairs to the freedom of grown-up pursuits.

The only other incident of the night was Jake screaming at 10:00. It took me a couple minutes to realize that it wasn't cats fighting outside. When I went up to look, he was lying on the floor, having fallen out of bed. I guess the bars on the baby beds are more than just decorative. I put him back in the real bed where he flailed around like a fish for a minute, and then went back to sleep.

Mrs. theskinnyonbenny woke up at 7:30 because the light and fan in our bedroom were going on and off and on and off. Rather than rush up to protect the kids from our first poltergeist, she woke me from a nice rest. It turns out that Jake woke up, found the remote for the upstairs ceiling fan, and was mashing the buttons to control that fan. Who would have guessed that the same remote would control the fan and light in our bedroom? I really should have thought of that when I installed those fans.

Sunday was short. We had breakfast, spread toys all over everywhere, picked up toys, and then the grown-ups showed up to take the kids away. Shortly after that, I fell asleep in my chair.