Monday, July 30, 2012

only 36 more days

As a parent who works out of the house everyday, I've got to admit summer time is tough.

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My spirit hasn't been particularly high for the past several weeks when I'm drudging out the door in to a perfectly beautiful day on my way to the office and Charlie and the children are planning their awesome activities while I'm away.  The conversation at the breakfast table usually surrounds whether they want to go to the pool (again) or whether they want to go in to DC? Or maybe they want to go bowling. Or to the library. Or play laser tag. OR maybe just a leisurely bike ride and quick game of miniature golf.  Their options are undoubtedly endless.  

At some point, my family's happy gazes will turn to me and they'll enthusiastically ask, "So Mom. What are YOU going to do today?" And I'll do my best to put on a smile and sound chipper as I tell them about the various meetings I have to attend and also, I've got this HUGE Excel spreadsheet I'm working on and today I might break 100 different fill colors on the various cells.

How exciting!

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Charlie's been trying to convince me that it isn't ALL fun and games being home with the children, day after day after day (after day).  He's tried to tell me that there is absolutely NO down time and they are always in to something and the bickering and fighting is driving him insane and the only way he can survive is to be out of the house EVERY WAKING MOMENT.

At least when they're all in school, he has some down time and even though Henry's in half-day preschool, one child is a lot easier to watch than four.  And four are a lot easier to watch than eight.


Last week, one of our neighbors dropped by with their four small children (also under the age of eight) and asked Charlie if he would mind watching them? Wanting to be a good neighbor and thinking the kids would have fun playing together, my husband said, "Sure why not?" And things went very well for approximately six minutes until one of the kids crashed their bicycle in to a parked car, one of them was asking "What's to eat?" and the little ones (aged three and four) disappeared down by the creek. My husband promptly came to his senses and sent them all home because WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

Earlier this week, Charlie was in the yard playing hide-n-seek when Carolyn walked outside holding the telephone, chatting it up wildly and informing her dad that he had a phone call.  Charlie took the phone from his daughter and tentatively said, "Hello?" thinking that surely no one would be on the other end of the line because ... who exactly taught the children to answer the phone?? 

Alas, on the other end of the line, was Charlie's client who was calling from the State EPA office in California. My husband was apparently placed on speaker phone with his client and several regulatory workers gathered around for an impromptu (unplanned) technical conversation.  Now, have you ever had that happen, when you're playing with your kids and you are immediately pulled in to a conversation that requires: 

1) Quiet
2) Focus 
3) Intense technical competency at the snap of a finger? 

As Charlie tried to channel his attention to the phone call, he had to block out the sounds of children, all around him, permeating every void.  Despite that, he was able to launch in to a technical explanation of some highly complex who knows what exactly kind of system.  According to a reputable source (him) in the middle of describing a calculus equation, he heard little voices on the other end of the line. "Daddy, who is that guy you're talking to? Did he say that his name was Mike?? Is that COUSIN MICHAEL? Hi Mike! It's me! Remember me?!" 

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William, who had answered the phone at the same time as his sister, had not returned his phone to the cradle and instead, decided to hide under his bed and listen, along with his little brother.  It took Charlie a few loooong seconds to find his son and convince him that it was NOT his cousin Michael on the other end of the line. While Charlie hunted,  William talked and talked and I'm certain that our son talks more than any other child on the planet. By the time he was able to retrieve the phone, the men on the other end were in fits at the scene that was occurring in our home and were asking if they could have "secretaries" like the ones that we obviously have in abundance.  Charlie said, yes, ABSOLUTELY.

He'd even cover the cost of shipping.