Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mary Poppins Comes Home

Photo taken from thepopcornjunkie.com
Last week I went to play nanny while my sister took a much-needed break. I felt so good every time she called, knowing that she was having a great time (except for the night she got a migraine), and knowing that we'd transformed her house. I was hoping she wouldn't call a few thousand times asking me where I'd put the _ _ _ _ _. Luckily, I'm either an okay cleaner or she's been hibernating all weekend.

I was hoping to transform her children. I was, in part, successful. The bounders did eat vegetables, though very sparingly. One of them cried the first time I tried to get him to eat salad and tried to barf it back up. Their Aunty's slitted eyeballs must have scared the barf back inside. The second night he was in a better mood and asked me if he could eat his two leaves of lettuce with bread.
"Sure," I said, thinking it a sad commentary on his diet, but I wasn't going to push it. Then he proceeded to make a bread, lettuce, mustard, and ketchup sandwich.

I opened the fridge to get the watermelon out for a nice snack for us all, only to find that one of those boys had "moused" the whole inside with a melon baller. He sat there licking the baller and was amazed that I was angry that he'd eaten the entire sweet bit out of the family's melon. As he patted his engorged stomach, I told him it wasn't anything to gloat about. He couldn't understand why I was so disgusted.
"After all, watermelon is good for you."

Photo taken from amalia-k.blogspot.com
We also did clean the house spotless. They all helped. There was a hailstorm of complaints and more than a few muttered oaths under their breaths. I think I even heard a couple of "I hate you Aunty Heidi's". It didn't save them. They still had to clean the garage. My goal was to make L. go outside and check the address to know she was in the right place. I picked her up from the airport, though, so it didn't work.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a long enough time to actually make lasting changes. I tried to instill a wish to be more responsible and cling to fewer unacceptable behaviors; but I am a realist. Those promises were bread and butter promises--gone as soon as their mother's feet crossed the threshold.

I knew that was the likelihood when I went into it. There's always that small hope that something will finally rub off and they'll amaze me. Let's just say I wasn't amazed by hope. There have been too many years down the track. But I see glimpses. At least I can see through statements like, "We never put our clothes away. We leave them on the floor. Mom likes it that way. And why are you washing so many clothes? Mom wants us to wear them for a week or so before we toss them on the floor."

We did several fun things each day to "pay" them for their hard work. We had a lovely water gun fight, went to the library and signed them up for a summer reading program, went swimming, and bought mom some belated birthday presents. The trips to the movies, the zoo, and up the mountains never panned out.

One of the boys has a fantastic arm for baseball and loves to play the game. If he disciplined himself enough to get into shape, he could be a contender in high school sports. I wonder if there are good ball teams at military schools?

The other boy is so sweet. He could also do many more things than he believes he can. I had him shredding documents. After a while he came in and said, "Aunty Heidi, the shredder is taking a break."
"What's that mean?" I asked, suddenly worried.
"I think it's tired." Then he gave a sunny little smile and showed me the shredder.
The whole thing was cram jammed with papers plus a credit card. Yep. It was taking a break alright. Run serpentine!

When they started telling me they wouldn't be continuing the waking up before 10am or the washing of clothes and other chore action after I left, ("And by the way, when are you leaving again?") I decided that their "payment" was going to end too. There was such a deluge of complaints about my planned trip to take them for a ride up in the mountains to play, that I decided they were slightly insane and needed a chance to do nothing for a while. Unfortunate, that. I was looking forward to playing in the pines--maybe a little pine cone war action.

Mom came home full of bonhomie, great food, and fantastic pictures. Her effusive gratitude was rich payment for all the cracked dreams and leftover salad. Perhaps I should go over and (figuratively) crack the whip a little more often. Perhaps I'd be a better Mary Poppins if I got the chance to make their lessons more regular. Of course I'd also be stark staring crazy.

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