On many occasions in the past few years I have had people ask me if I would be interested in caring for more children. My answer is always a firm, resounding NO. For one, I am not a licensed day care provider, which means I cannot care for children who are not in my family. I am just a tired old Beppe who is wary of leaving her home. You know, because of people. I'm not crazy, but I do dabble in it a bit here and there.
But in December, an incident happened with which I am not proud. No. So not proud. It verifies why one should not even consider leaving their children here. Surprisingly, my children still choose too.
Of course, I CAN explain myself. And also place the blame somewhere else. Because I was not alone with six children at the time. No. So very not alone. Pake was here also, and he was the one who gave permission which I certainly would not have done.
It went something like this:
Pake was home. Four of my charges asked him if they could play outside. It was December. It was in the 30's. There was no snow, but it was clearly winter. Not playing-outside-weather. Not at all. But, Pake agreed to let them run down the street so see if the neighbor kids were available to play. The charges had on winter coats, hats, mittens.., everything necessary for playing outside in Michigan.
The two oldest charges returned, saying that their friends didn't want to play outside. Because it was too cold. The other two where playing with one of the young neighbors. Pake disappeared at some point in this story, which Pake is wont to do on occasion.
Soon the two middle charges appeared in front of me, sporting bright red checks, saying that their friend went inside because it was too cold and could they play in the backyard?
Well of course I said yes! I LOVE our backyard. It is nicely fenced in. Nobody but ME ever wants to play in the backyard, they always want to play in the driveway or on the sidewalk. Even though I thought it was too cold outside, I agreed easily to this and went about changing diapers, wiping noses, and keeping the youngest charge from scaling to the top of the piano. Or something like that, all while knowing that the middle two were safe within the confining embrace of our very own fenced in backyard.
Some time passed. The second of my charges appeared in front of me asking where the middle two where. I told her that they were playing in the backyard. She reappeared, saying that nobody was in the backyard.
I sent this one out to look for them while I scrambled to find a safe way to locate Pake without leaving anyone else alone.
As I was searching for Pake, I looked out the window to see charge number three running down the sidewalk from the direction of the neighbors house wearing NO coat, NO hat, NO mittens, NO shoes, and NO socks.
Insert here the horror you can imagine I am feeling at the time.
I cannot even remember exactly how the rest of this plays out. As soon as I got charge three into the house I see charge two running down the sidewalk carrying a large bundle of coats and such in one arm, while holding the hand of charge number four who is struggling to keep up.
It took me awhile to get the story from them. Mostly because at that moment my biggest concern wasn't WHAT happened, but getting them warmed up before hypothermia set in. Charge number three warmed up quickly under a fleecy blanket. Charge number four was feeling the effects on his tiny three year old fingers and toes. It was painful. I do not know exactly how long they were in their shoes and sockless situation, but it had to have been less than ten minutes. Yet ten minutes is waaaay to long to be without proper clothing in 30 degree temperatures, no matter how old you are.
The rest of the story came out after it was determined that everyone was fine and no emergency room visits were necessary. For this I truly thank God.
Apparently, as the story unfolded, when charge three and four's friend went back inside her warm home, the two who appeared in front of me were not asking to play in OUR backyard, but in the neighbor's backyard. I was clearly reminded that what they said was could they play IN THE BACKYARD, they never said which backyard. This, sadly is true. I do believe they were vague for a reason. I never agree to playing in other people's yards if they are not also present.
Charge three looked up, noticed how bright and sunny the day was, and really really really wanted to play on the neighbor's swing set and in the neighbor's sandbox. We do not have those in our backyard. No. We do not. We have rocks, a deflated swimming pool, and a dead tree.
So these two happily went back down the street (three houses down) and into the NEIGHBORS backyard. Charge three commented to charge four that they never played in a sandbox, or slid down a slide while wearing shoes. I don't believe this to be true, but you probably would have fallen for it too if you were listening to them passionately explain this. Off came the shoes. Off came the socks. Then you know what else seemed weird? Playing in a sandbox and sliding down a slide while being barefooted yet still wearing a coat and hat. So, those came off too. I believe that the mittens went way before this.
There you have it.
Still want me to watch your kids? I think not. Therefore, I won't.