“What’s CG #10 mean?” Josiah asked. He was performing his daily inspection of the family calendar, munching on a bowl of pretels and leaning casually on the kitchen counter as he pointed at today’s square. The calendar, an oversized flowerly thing suspended by magnets on the side of our fridge, was beginning its slow downward slide thanks to the weight of Josiah’s scrutiny.
I glanced over his shoulder as I snagged a pencil from the cupboard above his head. “That’s our community group, you know, the one that meets at Matt and Kara’s,” I explained.
“Is Grandma coming over?” he asked.
“Not tonight, honey. She’s under the weather so I’ll be staying with you; Dad’ll go alone,” I pronounced as I walked back to the dining room table and handed Lydi the pencil.
Josiah watched me thoughtfully. “I think you should go. I can handle things here.”
Caught off-guard by his confidence, I chuckled patronizingly. My kids are not old enough to handle anything anywhere.
Except they kinda are. Last fall we became the proud new owners of a middle schooler. A mighty fine one at that. This fall we become the proud new owners of a teenager.
We’re on the cusp of rocking more double digits than we are single.
I’m on the verge of having the smallest feet in the house. Caleb can tromp around in my shoes without tripping, and Isaiah and JoJo have long since stopped trying because my pairs prove to be much too tight.
Andy’s nightly routine now includes a solid 15 minutes of foraging through cupboards for more calories because the people lick all the dishes clean before he can even get his behind in his seat at the table. It seems like just weeks ago he had to reign himself in because he was finishing everyone else’s meals.
And so it was that Andy and I had an eye-opening closed door conversation that started with “dare we…?” As we took stock of our kids and their capabilities — something we hadn’t done in quite a while — it dawned on us that they were, in fact, ready for this.
Huh. Well I never…
We outlined expectations. We laid out rules. We over-emphasized teamwork. The two big ones nodded solemnly in agreement, swore on their firstborns, and sent us out the door. We would be gone one hour and only a few blocks away. Our trusted neighbor Dan was home. Josiah and Isaiah were each equipped with means to call us.
We pulled out of the garage in a state of disbelief and pride. Could this really work? Had we made the right decision? Who would call first and when?
We didn’t have to wait long to find out. I was still removing my boots at Matt and Kara’s front door when my phone rang. It was Isaiah. “Mom, Caleb needs you,” he said as a weepy Cale interrupted him.
“I neeeeed you!” the red-headed man child moaned into the phone.
“I need you, too, Caleb!” I told him, using our usual bedtime exchange. It’s important that I include his name when doing this.
“I need some of those Oreo cookies in the cupboard,” he hedged coyly.
Ah. There’s the rub. I gave him permission, which I could have sworn was met by cackling in the background. Isaiah’s if I wasn’t mistaken. Only as I hit the end call button on my phone did it dawn on me that Caleb wasn’t tall enough to see the Oreos hiding in the dark recesses of the snack cupboard. But Isaiah and JoJo sure are.
No matter. A few chocolate cookies was a small price to pay to keep the peace at home.
A few minutes later, Andy’s phone began vibrating. It was JoJo sending missives. The first read, “Can I have some chips?” Conveniently, those live next to the Oreos. Two minutes later came the second. “I’m eating more chips.” And a few minutes after that: “I ate all the chips.” Andy never even had a chance to reply.
Minutes later my phone rang again. It was Isaiah with a still distraught Caleb. “Mommy?” Caleb asked. “I neeeeeed you!”
“And I need you, too, Caleb!” I replied cheerfully and on cue. “We’ll be home in just a little while. You’ll be fine until then.” I could tell something was up this time, and I didn’t have to wait long to find out what it was.
“I’d be more fine if I could have some ice cream,” he said as the cackling started up in the background again. Definitely Isaiah, that evil genius.
I gave my blessing wondering what in the world my kitchen would look like when we returned. We arrived home after just one hour as promised, and wouldn’t you know, nothing was on fire or even smoking. The refrigerator door was even closed all the way and zero toilets overflowed. The biggest showstopper: the dishes were in the sink.
We found those babes of ours piled peacefully on the couch watching PBS Kids. Josiah had turned out to be right: they can handle things here.
Now I’m the one who needs the Oreos. Too bad they didn’t leave me any.