2018.01.03 A few extra people around


What’s the most exciting memory from the holiday season? For me it was learning that my daughter’s dog ate one of the grandkid’s Batman mittens.

All the years of hiding things and constantly cleaning up and forcing open a mouth to check for contents—I thought it was over. The grandchildren are all old enough that we don’t much worry about choking hazards, and then Maddie brings home her 40-pound puppy and it starts all over again.

Jiri is a very nice young husky who behaves like any other curious toddler, except that he runs a lot faster.

I will find surprises in the grass when the snow melts, there will be holes in the yard to fill, there’s that problem with the dining room carpet—wait, I blame only myself for the last one.

I’m the one who carelessly removed the turkey platter from the table on Thanksgiving Day and allowed a large quantity of oil to spill onto the floor. What could a hungry pup do but try to get every drop off the carpet? Sometimes it’s necessary to start eating the rug and that can cause a couple of loops of carpet fiber to appear.

I hold no ill will against Jiri, especially after he gave me this week’s front page photo, although it was a difficult one to take.

When Jiri was first hitched to a sled, he ran and ran and ran. He loves the snow and the cold weather. Unfortunately, my camera wasn’t at home, so we tried to re-create the scene on the afternoon before his departure. This time he sat and looked at the camera. I have a series of photos of Maddie running, trying to get out of the picture as she prompted Jiri to follow her across the lawn.

My wife isn’t completely happy with Jiri after he nearly chewed through the strap of her Crocs shoes. I can’t blame him for that; I know how good it feels to sink your teeth into that thick foam.

Jiri later realized that he shouldn’t have eaten the mitten. Way too much fiber. So he brought it back up again, on the living room carpet.

And what about the human component of the holidays? As I survey the damage from an extra nine people living in our house for a week, I think of the broken bedroom door (the screws of a hinge somehow pulled right out of the door frame), the broken front screen door (the screws pulled out along with a section of wood), and my wife’s broken back.

Colleen was leaning over the bathtub washing two kids and later when she placed a laundry basket on the floor, she felt something snap across her lower back. She’s been hobbling ever since.

It wasn’t just four young kids at play last week. It was four cousins. They already knew how to raise havoc together, and raise it they did.

Today is New Year’s Eve day and Colleen and I are once again alone together. I’m walking around the house a little fuzzy in the mind after the grueling drive to Mount Pleasant Saturday night where we met the other set of grandparents who share my son’s two boys.

I look around the house and see a glass of water with a floating toothpick. I see a bowl of cherry tomatoes that includes one with numerous tooth marks and juice running out.

The living room floor is manageable. We left with the boys in somewhat of a rush once we learned of the meeting arrangements to the north, and there wasn’t time for the final picking-up session.

There’s one small puzzle with pieces strewn here and there. There’s a set of plastic vehicles and three books. There are a few miscellaneous items, ranging from a single playing card to a can of Instant Underpants (just add water) to a broken whoopee cushion. It’s all mine to handle because Colleen can’t bend over.

It was a successful visit. There were no major injuries and I wasn’t responsible for even the minor ones. One child has a badly bruised butt—the sort of thing social workers look for, according to daughter Rosie—but look, officer, I can explain. Ben built a ramp of snow for the sleds and Ryland suffered from a rough landing.

I’m relieved that we can now stop looking for the TV remote. It was the subject of a lot of searching by a lot of people during the past few days, but we learned this morning that a granddaughter packed it away and took it to Kentucky.