Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summertime, and the living isn't easy...

Napa Valley Register
Monday, July 11

It was barely two weeks into summer vacation, and the girls were already at each other’s throats and driving work-at-home Dad crazy.

I had it easy. I was at my nice neat desk at the newspaper every day, with my phone and my coffee. I only had one thing to do — my job. The only person bugging me was my editor and he’s easily placated with the promise of a story or two.

Meanwhile, Dad was at home trying to drag two teenagers out of bed before 11 a.m., break up the fights, get someone — anyone — to clean up the kitchen, all while running a business at the same time.

So the fact that he was getting a little overwhelmed was no big surprise.

I had to get those kids out of the house, and fast. The library and parks are fine for a bit. A movie eats up some time, but eventually they needed a place to send them for at least half the day.

That’s when Grandma and Grandpa came to the rescue. Well, their house did.

The Napa grandparents had headed out of town for a two-week road trip, leaving middle daughter in charge of watering the houseplants.

One afternoon, we were over at Grandma’s house watering the ferns and checking the mail.

It’s so nice and quiet here, I thought. There’s no one fighting, no one stomping up and down the stairs, no one knocking at Dad’s office door.

And that’s when it hit me. Camp Huffman was about to get a whole new home.

Tomorrow morning, you’re all going to Grandma’s, I told the girls later that night.

But Grandma is on vacation, they said.

Exactly, I said. You can have the whole house to yourselves. Just don’t hurt anyone or light anything on fire.

They thought about it for a minute.

OK, they said.

I’ll bring my craft stuff, one said.

I’ll bring some movies, another said.

I’ll bring my pillow, someone said.

The next morning, we piled in the car for a short ride over the hills to Grandma’s house. At least one still had her jammies on.

I let the girls in. They promptly went to the pull-out couch, opened the bed, and piled on top with their blankets. The oldest went back to sleep.

I went to work. About an hour later, my husband called me.

It’s so quiet here, he said. This is great. How much longer are your parents going to be away?

Around lunchtime, I called the girls.

How’s it going, I said.

Good, said the youngest. We’re eating waffles and watching movies, she said.

Camping out at Grandma’s when Grandma isn’t home is great. There’s no one bossing them around, they have the run of the house to themselves, and better yet, no one was pestering them to clean up at the end of the day.

When I picked them up after work, I asked them what else they did that day.

We ate all the ice cream, and then we went outside and found some deer poop on the deck, said one daughter.

We watched your wedding video, said another. You were funny, Mom, she said.

Thanks, I said. I think that was a compliment.

What’s the plan for tomorrow?, I asked.

Cupcakes, they said. We’re going to dye the frosting pink and the batter blue.

At that point, I would have said yes to almost anything, just to maintain the newly kid-free zone at home. I didn’t think about sugary sprinkles sticking on the floor. I didn’t think about scrubbing cupcake trays. I didn’t care how many of those cupcakes they would eat in one day.

Great, I said. Save one for Grandma.

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