Baby Sitting

Diana, her Mom, her sisters, and our daughter all went out girl-shopping yesterday. I agreed to stay home with our grandson, Gabe, because he is fairly self-entertaining, and I figured I could get a long nap out of the deal after I finished the laundry. Ten minutes after they left, the doorbell rang. It was our little neighbors, Vera and Amelia:

“Hello, ladies.”
“Hi, Mr. Dave. Our Mom is cleaning the house and told us to get out. She said it was okay if we came in yours and played with Gabe.”
“She said that, huh?”
“Yes.”
“Gabe is down in the basement watching TV.”
“Okay.”

The girls ran down the steps. I finished folding the laundry, then went downstairs to check on the kids. They had combined castle blocks, Legos, plastic army men, Pokemons, Bakugans, and ninja turtles into a terrifying dystopian society in the middle of the floor. I sat down on the couch and closed my eyes.

“Mr. Dave, are you asleep?”

I opened my eyes. Vera was sitting next to me.

“No, I was just resting my eyes.”
“Can we watch the Disney Channel?”
“Sure.”

I stood up, found the remote, changed the channel, sat back down on the couch, and closed my eyes.

“Mr. Dave, are you asleep?”

I opened my eyes. Amelia was sitting next to me.

“No, I was just resting my eyes.”
“Do you have any cards? We want to teach Gabe how to play War and Go Fish.”
“Okay, hang on.”

I stood up, found a couple of decks of cards, sat back down on the couch, and closed my eyes.

“Grandpa, are you asleep?”

I sighed and stood up.

“Are you guys hungry?”
“Yes!”
“Do you like potato chips?”
“Yes!”
“Hang on.”

I went upstairs, got three giant bags of chips (plain, barbecue, sour cream and onion), and a case of high-fructose corn syrup cleverly disguised in little barrel-shaped containers and marketed as a kids’ drink. I also grabbed several packages of Smarties. I brought everything down and set it on the basement floor next to the ruins of what was once a mighty block castle. Dead army men and pokemons littered the area around it. All the kids’ eyes lit up.

“Okay, listen: I’m going to sit down on the couch and close my eyes. I may or may not be sleeping. I have a force field around me. None of your powers can break that force field. Not fire power, not water power, not tornado power, not fire tornado power, not electrical fire tornado water power…”
“What about ninja power?”
“No. It is an invincible force field. It’s ninja-proof. And you can’t talk to me through it because it is also sound-proof. If you get hungry, eat some chips. If you get thirsty, drink some drink. You can only talk to me if you are bleeding.”
“But how will you hear us if your force field is sound-proof?”
“It has an emergency setting that will let me hear you if you lose and arm or leg. Okay?”

By this time they had noticed the Smarties and were shamelessly drooling. I’m pretty sure they would have agreed to invade North Korea and take out Kim Jong Un if I asked them to.

“Okay.”

I sat down and closed my eyes.

“Mr. Dave, are you sleeping?”

As a matter of fact, I was. I don’t know how long I had been sleeping, but when I opened my eyes, the basement floor was covered in empty chip bags, plastic barrel-shaped drink containers, Smartie wrappers, and every toy Gabe had brought with him. A Disney show involving a talking dog was playing on TV. I then looked to my right. Vera was sitting next to me.

“Are you bleeding, Vera?”
“No. Miss Diana is home and wants you to go look at what she bought.”
“Okay, thank you.”

I went upstairs and got a sympathetic look from Diana.

“Well, I guess you didn’t get much rest today.”
“Oh, I managed.’
“Really?”
“No, not really. What I actually did was panic and load them up on junk food. You do NOT want to go down to the basement. It’s pure carnage down there.”
“Oh, honey, they’re not going to want any supper.”
“That’s for their mom to worry about.”
“Gabe’s not going want supper either.”
“That’s for his mom to worry about. Look: Gabe, Vera, Amelia, and I have a system. It’s not pretty, but it seems to be working. I’m going back downstairs and getting back into my force field, which, among other things, is wife-proof.”
“Nothing is wife-proof.”
“How much did you spend shopping today?”
“Okay, it’s wife-proof. Do you want me to send the girls home?”
“No, they’re fine. I’m just going to grab some Pop Tarts and spread them around on the floor when I go down.”
“Sounds like you’re feeding animals at the zoo.”
“I kind of am.”

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