Today I spent the day with my beloved sister in law having an all-day playdate. 2 moms vs. 7 children ages 8 and under. Although we are used to full days of juggling these kids, when you bring that volume of related children together the child-power multiplies exponentially. To prevent disaster, the adults must switch back and forth from man-on-man to zone defense every three seconds. I am fully confident that we made the motherhood playoffs today. Making it to bedtime was a shocking victory that felt a bit like this.
Children only escaped the house naked a FEW times. The baby was only carried off by his head for a few seconds. My son only reacted to a toy theft by punching his cousin in the groin once. Three kids didn’t even cry! We only contemplated calling FEMA for a minute. Ironically, it was one of the three-year-olds that found the computer and Skyped a soldier overseas before either of us moms called for reinforcements. Really, we did beautifully.
Part of the challenge was a loss of home court advantage; we in their grandparents’ home. This particular house is equipped with a myriad of toys that beg to be strewn. There is an array of beautiful glassware, heirlooms, and furniture that are unscathed. Yet, there is an area that now make me shudder—the Gauntlet.
In the kitchen the gauntlet waits, quietly. The dining room wall blocks views from within the kitchen, allowing little ones to hide from adult eyes as they break down the 10 foot runway that holds a refrigerator and a pantry. The refrigerator’s refreshingly cool air wafts out to the seeker’s face through tiny cracks between a wide array of delights. Little hands eagerly snatch string cheese and yogurty treasures from this trove, shutting to door to turn around into another den of glory. Directly parallel is a long set of, folding accordion doors that hold inside every amazing snack food and desire of a young child’s heart.
My amazing sister in law and I spent the day protecting the fortification of The Gauntlet-the pantry and the refrigerator- from 6 of the 7 children. When the children are hungry, all reason and listening skill evaporates. They were coming for what they wanted and it wasn’t pretty. Kung Fu masters have nothing on the speed of little boys who have spotted chocolate chips, peanut butter, chips, crackers, and honey.
By 2:00 the Hunger Games: Pantry Edition had begun. At 3:45 we lost the Battle of the Alamo in glorious defeat. By 7:00 we had reinforcements and full children as we reclaimed total victory. Learning from history and still exhausted from the heat of such battle, I shall assess and learn from this experience. I shall henceforth code by the Terror Alert coding. Enjoy.
CAVEAT: My mother in law is neat, orderly, and tidy. These pictures of the pantry are AFTER the children had rifled through for hours and an Alamo had been fought. Please maintain Pinterest-worthy ideals of her kitchen. Thank you.
First, BLUE: Terror attack risk is extremely low. This only exists when children are not present or are asleep.
Second, Guarded. This is literal. After today we were informed by my mother in law that a long, thin plank of wood can be wedged between the doorframe and the doors to prevent the pantry from opening. If only we had known sooner.
Other than that, it is when an adult is literally in front of or next to the pantry or refrigerator that adequate guarding occurs. When a 2 pronged attack is used, adults can usually lunge and seize taken items if the child has not yet escaped the Guantlet with a swiped item.
The bottom floors seem safe, but are deceiving. sacks of potatoes and colas are mixed in with towels, either can be used for maiming a foe or spraying the ceiling. Point of fact: Repeatedly sneaking an orange cola can and beating it with a spoon will eventually open the can and cause a mess.
Breads, crackers, peanut butter, bagels, and chips rest blissfully here. While these are excellent examples of little boy sustenance, proper eating requires more effort. While many items can be poured out, this will booby-trap the Gauntlet area with a mess and could potentially leave noise-causing shrapnel to give away future missions. Sandwiches and crackers can require spreading and dip to reach full potential. Today the boys opted for sneak attacks for Pringles while my son distracted me by carrying a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread to the table.
Oh Mylanta. Easily accessible with a climb and a reach, the contraband sits. Baking supplies, chocolate, and obvious non-stack foods. Y’all, by 5:00 EVERY bag of TollHouse Morsels had been reached, opened, and spilled. While some bags were simply overturned and handfuls grabbed and gobbled, some children opted to follow and eat the trails of small triangular glory leading to the loot. Little boys lined up like ants and gobbled the crumbs up like Hansel and Gretel. After two such instances while my sister in law cleaned, changed a diaper, and helped a child, I had to feed the baby. We returned to find this:
These were the third and final bag of butterscotch morsels. The tiny head at the bottom is my son’s, who is following a trail from The Gauntlet.
Now, don’t think that we women sat lazily on the couch and ate Bon-Bons. In the meantime we changed diapers, fed healthy trail-mix snacks, played referee, broke up fights, changed children’s outfits multiple times, laughed uproariously, defined vocabulary words, made felt crafts, conspired about Christmas gifts, and revealed to each other the ways our lives do not measure up to Pintrest expectations. It is hard to fake perfection when multiple children are in various forms of undress, someone is eating chocolate spread with a spoon, another is eating batteries, a baby is crying, the remote is MIA and every kid has been up since 5:00am due to Daylight Savings.
We fought for each other today, Y’all. We did it together, as a family. We are going to bed happy, exhausted, full and slightly terrorized. We are still standing. In fact, while we made dinner, a horse was even ‘parked’ on my mother in law, Trooper Extraordinaire.
When outnumbered over 3:1 and in a home without childproofing near the food, battle lines are already drawn. Fight well, and “be advised”.