Sometimes it really doesn’t pay to procrastinate. I usually have an idea of what I’ll write about in my column by the middle of the week. I may outline it, or jot down a few paragraphs throughout the week before I actually sit down to write. But this week I didn’t do that because I knew Sunday was going to be an eventful day– a veritable gold mine for a humor columnist.
We were scheduled to host our church’s interim pastor and his wife in our home for lunch. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I am certifiable. I have lost my mind, and I should probably seek professional help. I don’t know if my motivation purely a desire to get to know these sweet people or if I was driven out of a lack of adult human interaction. Either way, I forgot about my three kids and their constant shenanigans when I enthusiastically volunteered myself as a hostess.
I had plenty of time to think about it throughout the week as what I had done began to sink in. I relived some of my most horrifying parenting moments, including but not limited to: all of my children at some point in their lives (read: last week) running butt-naked through our house with no regard as to the presence of non-family members, the sound of their screams when having to interact with one another at nap-time, i.e. the exact time our guests would be arriving. Reciting lyrics to songs they have accessed via the iTunes app on my iPhone that are totally uncensored. I’ve purchased countless Kidz Bop albums for my phone to give them the pop music they crave without the profanity and/or inappropriate sexual references. But you just really can’t look like a good parent if your four-year-old is singing Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies,” at lunch with the preacher, Kidz Bop or not.
On Saturday we cleaned our house like there was going to be an inspection the next day. I generally kick the girls’ toys out of my way when walking through the house. Erma Bombeck said, “Cleaning the house while the children are growing is like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing.” Deep cleaning in a house full of young children is only possible if they are asleep. And chances are if they are asleep, you have passed out on the couch from sheer exhaustion.
The entire family pitched in, regardless if they wanted to or not. After telling Aubrey to make her bed and pick-up her toys she huffed, “Why do I have to do everything around here?”
I stopped washing dishes, cooking three meals at the same time, while simultaneously doing laundry and juggling knives with my feet and spun on my heel to give her the Mommy Stink-Eye.
“Well… I mean… um… not EVERYTHING-everything. You do some stuff too.” She scurried out of the room before I could speak and cleaned her room at record speed.
As I tucked my four-year-old and six-year-old into bed in their spotless room on Saturday night, I practically begged them not to publicly humiliate me. We talked about manners, but I was nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Two thoughts consoled me while I tried to go to sleep on Saturday night: our pastor and his wife are parents to two grown daughters, surely they remember what it’s like to be me and this week’s column would write itself.
Turns out I had nothing to worry about and nothing to write about. Our pastor’s wife is the Baby Whisperer. She sat in my daughters’ bedroom as I finished cooking lunch and flipped through books. She listened intently while all three of them chattered non-stop. She asked them questions about their interests. The pastor bounced my children on his knee and taught them a song.
Even though I had set the “kiddie table” for my children to eat, they all carried their plates to the big table and said, “We want to sit with her,” and pointed to the Baby Whisperer. They ate. They sat quietly. They politely waited for more. I almost collapsed at the table from the shock.
Life lessons: procrastination is risky business. Feral children can be tamed. And we may be able to avoid going to juvie.