When our son and his wife, who live in a two-bedroom apartment in Chicago, had their fourth child (family motto: “Stack ‘em high and stack ‘em deep”), we drove up, admired the new baby, and then brought the 6- and the 4-year-old home with us for 10 days. Make that 10 days and six hours, but who’s counting?
Occasionally on long drives, I sometimes grow drowsy, but this was not even a remote possibility with our inquisitive passengers in the car.
“Where does gasoline come from, Grandma?”
“What’s the difference between a golfer and a gopher, Grandpa?”
I would have said the difference between a golfer and a gopher is an “l” and a “p,” but their grandpa is more patient than their grandma.
“What exactly is quicksand?”
They had a steady barrage of questions that could have kept the Google search engine busy for hours.
“What if hail comes down on your house?”
It was like a game show with only seconds to answer before another question was fired.
“How do the police catch bad guys?”
“You’re good conversationalists,” I told the kids. “Do you know what that means?”
“Yes, it means we’re good talkers.”
The good talkers came with, shall we say, an intensity.
“It’s going well,” I told a friend on day four. “Although it is a bit of a jolt to our systems.”
Two days later I considered instituting naptime. For the adults.
They were only small differences really. We gravitate toward conversational tones; the children were propelled by sudden bursts of shrieking and laughing. I’ve always like the piano on the west wall where it has stood for 20 years; they moved it perpendicular to the wall to create a fort.
“How is it going?” our son asked by phone.
“They’re angelic,” I said. (When they are sleeping.)
“Are they behaving?” he asked.
“Oh my, yes.” (Do not get out of that chair until I say you can!)
“Are they eating well?”
“Very well.” (If you count cheese as a food group.)
I was making calzones one afternoon when my garlic disappeared. I entertained the idea that I had finally lost my mind. Still, I looked high and low searching the kitchen and finally asked out loud how a woman loses six garlic bulbs in a mesh tube.
“Were they in that thing that looks like a sock?” one of them asked.
“I took it upstairs to play with it.”
It was wonderful to have them here for a lengthy stay. We feel like we completed a rigorous physical fitness training. Our reflexes have never been sharper, nor our response times quicker.
We called the day after we delivered them back home and asked how they had adjusted to one another again.
“It was sure quiet when they were gone,” our son said. “It’s great to have them back. It’s just a bit of a jolt.”