My husband and I worked different shifts the first 14 years of our marriage – me, the 7 am – 3:30 pm shift and him, the 3 pm to midnight shift. This allowed us to keep some of our hard-earned money instead of spending it all on childcare. This meant that my wonderful husband was stuck at home (I should say spending quality time) with four children all under the age of 6! My hubby really understood the meaning of being ‘housebound’ in those days!
With this late shift, he was always exhausted and he would sometimes sneak a nap in while the children were napping. This became harder and harder, the older they got since the whole napping thing was a waste of time as far as they were concerned – so much to see, so much to do, so much to destroy! However, being a trusting soul, hubby would nod off at times while sitting in a chair watching cartoons with the children.
This, of course, was their cue to start the methodical destruction of the house. It was always under the guise of playing but I suspect that they were conducting experiments to see how much they could accomplish without waking the sleeping giant!
It was not unusual for me to come home from work and see the aftermath of their experiments. One such occasion occurred with Jenny was 5 and Bob was 3 years old. We lived in a split level home – which means when you walk in the front door, you immediately have to start climbing stairs into the living room. We always kept a couple of chairs or the couch up next to the banister because I had a fear of getting a phone call that one of the little heathens had stuck his or her head in between the posts and was stuck – I, at least was realistic about my children’s tendencies towards mayhem.
When I walked into my home one day, I noticed that the walls were streaked with what appeared to be brown paint and the chandelier had small particles of brown stuck to it. My husband had not called to tell me anything about re-decorating and as usual, the children were completely silent and acted like they didn’t see anything wrong with the entryway. I immediately called my husband to make sure we didn’t have some type of exotic mold growing on the walls and was informed that Jenny and Bob had been conducting an experiment earlier in the day. He didn’t think it was important and hadn’t really noticed the outcome of the experiment until it was time to leave for work.
He explained that he had been ‘resting his eyes’ when he noticed the sound of small feet in the kitchen, the refrigerator opening, and the sloshing of milk. Then he heard the scurrying of little feet, a plop and then lots of giggles. His eyes were resting so soundly, that he didn’t open them until this scenario was repeated at least two more times. By that time, the giggling had turned to near hysteria and he couldn’t sleep through it any longer – oops — I mean his eyes had finally finished resting and were ready to start working again.
That’s when he actually saw the actions which went with the sounds he had been hearing (good thing his ears hadn’t taken any time off!). Jenny and Bob would run into the kitchen, fill a plastic bowl with Cocoa Krispies cereal, fill the bowl with milk and scurry back into the living room. At this point, they would carefully climb up on the couch which was next to the railing – not wanting to spill any of their precious concoction. They would then both lean over the top of the couch, reach across the top of the railing with the bowl of Cocoa Krispies and now chocolate milk, and promptly drop the bowl into the entry way. When the bowl hit the floor, the cereal and milk would fly straight up into the air, coating the wall and the light fixture with the wonderful color of brown! The giggling would then ensue. One of them would run to the bottom of the stairs, get the now-empty bowl and the experiment would start again.
I couldn’t decide whether to scream at my husband for not watching them closer or consider the two little interior decorators geniuses for thinking of this wonderful way to change the color of the walls and the light fixture! In the end, I decided that the real culprits were those eyes of my husband’s — we definitely needed to find a way to keep them awake during the day. So– I told my children that the next time daddy was resting his eyes and they felt the urge to redecorate something — they should redecorate daddy. My husband didn’t let his eyes rest ever again!