Last Friday we hosted my sweet friend's four children for the evening. It was their tenth wedding anniversary. There were dinner plans but when I offered to take the children for a sleep over her eyes lit up and honestly so did mine. The youngest of theirs is a precious one and a half year old girl. Her squeal and toddling around make me go weak in the knees. So yes, I said yes, more like insisted. Even offered to help her make hotel reservations. Stay out late, don't come home too early, we'll be fine.
Husband Jared is such a good sport. He goes along with me all too often. I remind him what it was like when we had four littles. He nods and smiles, remembering those years. Then he laughs and tells me how grateful he is that we are on this side of the parenting pendulum. Yes and yes. So when the pack n play arrived and the bags and the two littlest of theirs I was ready. My kitchen counters didn't say so, but I was. We had just done a big shop at Costco and Trader Joe's and there was food everywhere. A first world problem for sure. Nonetheless I scooped those kiddos right up and we went to work. There were plants to water, groceries to be put away and snacks to be eaten. After all we were at Mrs. Hanson's house and there is no shortage of fun around here.
The two eldest boys of their bunch ran off the bus with the Things and the overnight fun began. Snacks and telling of the school day, backpacks thrown across the floor, shoes everywhere and excited boys. Those excited boys were sent off to assist Thing 4 with a new haircut. With the house a little quieter we played and waited for their return so we could splash in the pool before dinner time. Thing 1 was in charge of changing the kiddos into proper swim attire. I was assured they were in good hands only to find out when we were at the pool that the littlest one did not have her swim diaper on. We watched her climb from baby pool to big pool with a sopping wet load. Thankfully our time was limited and we did not have any blow outs. Because, oh yeah, when you have littles you're supposed to pack a diaper bag or at the very least an extra diaper and wipes. Oops. Forgive me, it's been a few years. Anyhow, we splashed and ran and swam and showed off our new jumps and techniques and then we quickly realized that said precious girl had a blow out. Off to the house. I wrapped her in a towel and carried her up the hill to the house, no one being the wiser. Except the Things, whom all thought we were quite the show.
Jared and Michael
Laughing it up
After pool time and the l-o-n-g walk up the hill back to the house it was dinner time. Husband Jared grilled chicken and corn and we sat around the table, all eleven of us talking and laughing. Yes, I said 11, Thing 2 had a friend join us for dinner. What's one more when there were already eight? If the door's open than you're welcome here. Apparently the Things have taken to that motto as well.
All 11 of us, Carter's head is hiding behind Thing 1,
you can see his hands though
It was a rather uneventful evening after that. Everyone snuggled in together watching Mr. Bean's Holiday, ate some ice-cream and chocolate chip cookies and went to sleep without any issues. Best of all, I was able to tuck eight sleeping babes in that night. Love.
Morning came all too early, as it often does after a full day. Coffee was brewing and chocolate chip pancakes were being made and kiddos were at the counter helping me. At least the two littlest were. Did that ever bring back some memories. So many mornings with all four of my Things on their stools wanting to "help" with breakfast. Mix the pancakes, pour the milk, cut the fruit. Oh my, my heart was about to burst out of my chest. Then they were off to water the plants and play with "Powo", otherwise known as Polo, the most patient, lovable dog ever. The two older boys were all about Thing 4 and the three of them had Nerf gun wars and remote control car expeditions before we even sat down at the table. Speaking of table, here we are again. Only Thing 1 and Thing 2 were not awake yet. Don't worry, I saved them some chocolaty goodness. Those Things were sure helpful, they love those kiddos and know them so well after many nights of babysitting this summer.
With endless energy Husband Jared and I thought we would take the kiddos and Polo on a hike down to the creek near our house. Brilliant. Or so we thought. I guess it was in the beginning. The boys ran off exploring, they took turns walking Polo and we made mention of every bug, flower and bird we saw. Stopping for caterpillars and butterflies, even moths and ants. We made it to the creek and climbed across some logs, took drinks of water from the spigot and talked to some strangers. I was attacked by mosquitoes and the kiddos were giddy. Good times.
This sweetie, the youngest boy, even asked to hold my hand on our way to the creek.
Why yes, and why don't you just have my heart too?!
And then my friends the idyllic morning took a turn for the worst. And by worst I mean there may have been waling and gnashing of teeth. Really. It happened and I won't soon forget it. I only hope they will. We had begun the trek back home and the boys and Polo were in front of Husband Jared, myself, Thing 3 and the two littles. That is when it happened, Polo ran off the trail and we heard the screams. Running as fast as I could all I saw was Thing 4 holding face telling me he had been stung and the eldest of the other four waving his hands about and not letting me touch him. Forgetting reason I scooped him up, holding his arms tightly and made a run for it. When we were safely away from the area I could finally make out his words, bees, he had been stung. Sure enough. The three boys were attacked by hornets. And then as Husband Jared and the youngest boy made his way to us they were stung. I am sure we were quite the spectacle. Four crying children, trying to catch their breath, two crazed parents carrying said children and trying desperately to reassure them and make it hurt less and one girl Thing carrying a little all the way up the hill attempting to escape without getting stung. I can only imagine what we sounded and looked like as we entered our neighborhood. The boys ended up running all the way back to the house for relief and as soon as I caught up I hosed them down outside, much to their dismay. We (kid logic) thought the hornets might have followed us home. They didn't. Once the mud was washed they were all sat on towels, stings assessed for stingers, ice put on them, then the magic cream and ice lollies given to all. Young and old. Thing 1 and Thing 2 were as stunned as we were. Husband Jared and I wanted to take back that walk. The only conclusion that made sense was Polo kicked up a hornet's nest when he ran off and then the boys ran right through the mess and us behind them. The words I will never forget came from Carter's mouth as we were having our recovery time on the towels. Bless him. Stung for the first time, Mama not here and only Mr. and Mrs. Hanson to make it better, can't blame him for sure. He simply said, "this is the worst morning ever". And friends it might have been.
At least for those kiddos. I wish I could share the photo of the aftermath with you. Sadly, I can't. There are four boys and one sweet little girl all in their chonies (underwear), looking like they've been through the trenches, popsicles dripping from their chins and tearstained eyes staring at the camera. What a sight.
Gaining composure after the episode
After everyone had been settled and it was clear no one was going to have an allergic reaction we cozied them up and had some down time. Husband Jared and I may have needed it more. It is awful to see kiddos in pain and scared. We tried our best to reassure them. And then we tried to end the day on a better note by splashing in the pool again. That did the trick. Smiles all the way around and their confidence in us restored. They may even want to come spend the night again, I hope.
What became clear to us was that we are out of practice with littles. Sure, we thought we remembered the game until the fateful morning of the stings. That squashed our false pride outright. Our four seemed so much older and independent after having the extra four with us. Even if just for a night. Husband Jared needed a nap that afternoon and I don't blame him. A much different skill set is required for meeting younger children's needs. And while parenting can be exhausting and draining at all ages the big event sure did tucker us out and bring back the memories. These four were so much fun and it was pure delight to see our four happily engaged and helping out with them. Whether it was helping with the bedtime routine, cutting food, fetching snacks or even simply playing, the eight of them together was so very sweet. Until next time...