My daughters are one and two years old. So, my apartment is Fort Knox when it comes to baby proofing and locks. With them being so little, my main concern is more or less to keep track of the two of them and keep them safe and happy while they play, explore, and develop. Recently, though, our world was shaken up — in a good way — but also in a way that more or less rocked our world.
I offered to watch a friend’s kids for the day. She has three: ages 3, 4, and 6. In my mind this was only going to add to our party — and in many ways it did — but it also made me realize that slightly older kids, well, they’re a whole different ball game. OK, I didn’t really completely think it through. One thing I had going for me was another friend of mine and her mother were both coming to be my back-up. So it was three adults in charge of five kids. Easy, right?
It became clear, however, as soon as the kids arrived it was going to be a day of mayhem, on a scale that I had never truly experienced before. I quickly scrambled to lay down a couple of preliminary house rules to maintain order: (1) no hurting anyone and (2) if you can’t reach it, ask, don’t climb.
The day progressed. If I wasn’t stopping a child from throwing another off the couch, I was cleaning up a spill or bodily fluid. Mind you, the little people were having a blast, but I felt like a lone body guard trying to keep a bunch of drunk rock stars from setting the building on fire. Rachel and her mom (a retired NYC public school teacher) were amazing. Eventually, we figured out that the best crowd control was counter-intuitive: we trapped everyone, including ourselves, in my daughter’s bedroom. Every kid was automatically within arms reach of an adult. Rachel’s mom taught the kids a song and dance about a witch and some pumpkins and it kept us all sane. And that says a lot.
Over the course of the day, my list of two rules grew. And they went from the practical to the absurd, but each and every rule was based on a real moment in time. Here are the 8 additions that now stand as house rules. Next time these kids come to visit, we’ll be ahead of the game.
1. No ripping off any body parts.
This includes teeth, eyelashes, and toenails.
2. If you play in the closet and someone wants out, you must let them out immediately.
You may not wait until their cry is at a volume of your choosing. Actually, scratch that, we don’t lock kids in closets here.
3. No impromptu baths.
Let’s chat about your plans first.
4. If you arrive with a milkshake* and have none to share, it goes straight into the freezer and you get it back when you go home.
*Milkshake, candy bar, cookie, lollypop, anything edible whatsoever.
5. No jumping on the bed.
Yes, even if you’re singing “Five Little Monkeys …”.
6. If someone starts to scream or cry, stop what you’re doing immediately.
Stop what you’re doing. Don’t wait for me to yell at you. For the love of God, Stop. What. You’re. Doing.
7. Do not take snacks to the bathroom even if you think you’re going to be sitting there for a while.
Especially if you think you’re going to be sitting there for a while.
8. You may not start brushing your teeth with just anyone’s toothbrush you find.
Really, this is no time to focus our energy on good oral hygiene anyway.
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