So the other day some dear friends (or maybe they secretly hate me) say they want to ask me a favour, I should pop around and have dinner with them that evening and they will tell me what they need.
No problem I say (second mistake – first being answering their call)
At dinner they explain their problem, turns out they need to go out of town for a day. They have to leave early and are unable to take their kids with as they don’t want them to miss school, and will both be in a meeting leaving no one to take care of the kids, would I be so kind as to watch them for that day?
Seeing as I am between jobs at the moment, and we have been close friends from before the kids were born I agree. (third and final mistake)
Now lets get something straight right now:
Those three kids are some of the most well mannered, good natured and adorable kids I have met, they can in no way be described as “little terrors” or “hyper-active” or any of those other negative little euphemisms we have all heard.
So this is roughly how my day went:
I arrive at their house, it is 5am and I am barely awake. The mom is busy making breakfast, packing lunches, setting out school uniforms, checking book-bags, signing homework books and generally being more awake than should be humanly possible at that un-godly hour. The dad and I are having coffee and trying to stay out of the way while waking up.
At 6am the kids are up, and well into their morning routine and with some final instructions and admonishments to me and the kids my friends are out the door and on their way. The kids do what they do, and thanks to the oldest (she just went to high-school) are all dressed, fed, brushed, neat and tidy and ready for the day at 6:45.
I get them all into the car and off we go, drop the two little ones at their school (baby just started school and the middle one is in grade 6) and then the oldest at hers. I go back to the house and while tidying up the kitchen I can’t help thinking that despite my initial concern this is going to be easy, these kids are easy to look after, you just have to start them up and point them in the right direction and of they go with minimal input and interference – easy. Ha!! Right!!
I make sure I am on time to pick up the little one at school (the middle one brings her right to where we agreed I will be waiting before going back for netball practice) Now we have about 40 minutes to kill before picking up the oldest, so knowing this kid (I call her energizer bunny) will get bored in 5 minutes flat just sitting in the car waiting I suggest a treat, it is a very hot day so I stop at the KFC drive-through and order two ice-cream cones. I really thought I was doing well right up to that moment. Her first objection: “mommy says we shouldn’t eat sweets before we have out food” come on!! This kid is 6 years old! What kid her age is that responsible? Although I must add she waited until she had the cone in her hand before sharing that little bit with me. Then about halfway through the ice-cream she-matter-of-factly says: “you know it isn’t fair that I should get an ice-cream and my sisters not” Man Alive! What have I let myself in for?
In any case – we pick up the oldest and after another stop at KFC we head home. The oldest once again proves to be of great help, first getting the little ones face and hands cleaned up (she looked like an aspiring mimic with all the ice-cream that missed the mark) getting the lunches out that mom prepared beforehand and getting them both out of school uniforms while I warm it up in the microwave. After this is all done we head back to the primary school to pick up the middle one and after yet another KFC detour we get home. While the middle one is having her lunch the oldest helps me clean up the kitchen (is it only me or is this place unable to just remain clean and tidy?)
All chores and immediate needs taken care of the two older ones head to their desks to get homework done, and this dear reader is where it gets ugly – VERY ugly. If you have never had to keep a very energetic and intelligent 6 year old busy while her sisters need to be left alone in order get homework done you will have no idea what I’m talking about! But rest assured – I will tell you.
Right off the bat I made a huge mistake – I asked her what she would like to do. Man oh man if only I knew.. She gets out her tea-set (THAT I GAVE HER FOR CHRISTMAS!) and announces that I am invited to join her and her favorite teddy for tea. Now I am a responsible adult, so I offer to help her with the boiling of the kettle part, but she looks at me as if I am a bit slow and says no – she knows she is not allowed to work with boiling water, it will be iced tea – it is summer after all. Also, other than getting out the ice cubes I am not allowed to help or even observe as it will ruin the whole idea of her making us iced tea. So tea is served, and in my defence I must say that 1) it really looked like she was actually drinking hers, not just making like she is taking a sip and 2) water mixed with the right sand and poured through a tea-strainer looks a hell of lot like tea and 3) there was a bottle of iced tea in the fridge.
So after drinking about 2l oros to try and stifle the gag reflex and cleaning the kitchen (yet again) this little Daisy De Melker wants to play her own brand of hide and go seek outside. Now I know what you think dear reader, this game can not be played by two participants, and rest assured this kid realizes it, so she made her own improvements, ending with a hybrid of hide-and-go-seek, touchers and simon says. Do you dear reader have any idea how much running, jumping and general torture is involved in such a hybrid?? The last time I was that exhausted there was a man with two stripes on his arm shouting VOU JY TROEP!!!
Eventually this sadistic little Daisy De Melker fitness freak grows bored with the game, and after a short but heartfelt prayer of thanks to every deity everywhere I head into the house with only a chair and a cold glass of oros in mind (there are some ice-cold castles in the bar fridge – but as I said I am a responsible adult)
The other two have by now finished their homework, so I am deeply thankful they are now available to keep the monstrous, sadistic demon disguised as a sweet little six year old occupied.
I should have remembered the saying about not counting your chickens..
The kids want to cool off in the pool, and I thankfully agree as I can do with some lounging in a cool swimming pool myself, and besides I can rest and catch my breath for a bit while three little girls go and get dressed for the pool (I saw earlier in the day how long it took mom to get them ready for school) so I knew I had some time to contemplate my own mortality in peace. HA!! These kids share ancestry with all super-heroes who gets into their costumes in phone-booths in nano seconds! As for lounging in the pool – yeah right! For the next hour uncle Pete has to launch these overweight (you wouldn’t say it to look at them, but trust me) little monsters in strict order from oldest to youngest off his shoulders towards the deep end. This process involves first ducking down on the haunches, submerging the head under water for the 6 or 7 minutes it takes the launchee to find satisfactory footing on the shoulders, then after being patted on the head like a faithful, subservient dog straightening the legs rapidly, thus launching the little fat monster towards the deep end. After being berated for a decided lack of effort resulting in insufficient height and trajectory achieved it would be the next little demon-child’s turn. Repeat until more than half drowned, lungs burning from effort and legs are trembling and going into muscle spasms.
Luckily the parents arrived home before the little monsters could kill me and feed on my soul, I was already dreading the next torture these “kids” would devise for a gentle, trusting and gullible old man. Yes I felt old. Ancient.
I have a new respect for my friend and all parents.