One of my neighbors (we'll call her Neighbor A) found out that the pain in her arm is actually something quite serious. She needs emergency surgery, and she is pretty much unable to take care of her children until then. You know, since she can't lift anything. Or hardly move. The neighbors have all pitched in to help, because we are good like that. We are taking turns with her two youngest children during the school day and with preparing meals. Today was another neighbor's (we'll call her Neighbor B) day with the children.
Neighbor B calls me panicked.
"Trish? It's Neighbor B. I have a huge problem. My friend's husband has had a heart attack. I have to get to the hospital. Can you watch all of the kids?"
I immediately agree, of course. Then it dawns on me. All of the kids. Neighbor A and Neighbor B's kids. Plus mine. As long as she is back before school lets out, this is just four children. As soon as school is out, this becomes EIGHT kids. The oldest being in second grade. One second grader, two first graders, a kindergartner, one four-year-old, two three-year-olds, and a one year-old. Oh hell.
I have exactly one hour until they arrive. We have company coming over this evening. I still need to clean the whole house. I scramble to clean the downstairs, thinking I could work on the upstairs while watching the kids play. In between cleaning, I am working. One hour passes in ten minutes, and I still have not managed to have lunch. I am pretty sure once the kids are all here, I won't get lunch.
The doorbell rings. Tons of children invade my home. By the door is a pile of shoes, socks, jackets, and stuffed animals. They have all run in different directions. It takes me a full twenty minutes to locate them all and bring them upstairs.
An hour later, every basket that contains toys has been dumped out in the game room. A 200 piece puzzle has been shoved into piggy bank. One toilet is clogged. A clothing rod has been pulled down in Jill's closet. All the beds are unmade. At least thirty toys have been thrown over the railing. A blue crayon line runs the length of the hallway. The dollhouse has been dumped upside down. The couch cushions are on the floor. And, two children are missing.
I am delirious from the lack of food. The piles of toys are threatening to rise up and attack me. The noise level in the home is incredible. I start to cry. Help me! Must do something. Quick. Think.
COOKIES! I have cookies! I find a few of the kids and lure them to the television with the cookies. Once they are settled, I find the rest of the children. Dangling cookies in front of their faces, I lead them to the other children already in front of the TV. I promise to keep the cookies coming, as long as they promise to stay.
It has been twenty minutes. All I can hear is Monsters, Inc. and the occasionally call for a cookie. Never, NEVER, underestimate the power of a cookie.