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Through the looking glass

Sometimes you don’t realize what a scrum your daily existence is until you are taken out of your home and asked to perform it on stage, with an audience. That stage for the past couple weeks has been my brother and his wife’s apartment, who also serve as our captive audience. Boy, captive audience is...

0719DEVJoshConleySometimes you don’t realize what a scrum your daily existence is until you are taken out of your home and asked to perform it on stage, with an audience. That stage for the past couple weeks has been my brother and his wife’s apartment, who also serve as our captive audience. Boy, captive audience is a strange expression, isn’t it? But I digress—here is what a day in the life currently looks like …
The four of us were graciously given the sprawling master bedroom in which to set up shop. Aerial satellite infrared photography would reveal the following at night: my wife and I in the bed, Bub at the foot of the bed on a floorbed of comforters and stuffed animals. Then HP sacked out in the play yard in the corner. A fan running full blast to drown out any noise (including critical information whispered between Mommy and Daddy), a cellphone for time checks, and the door shut to keep the cat out, and the crazy in.
Our morning routine has altered accordingly. The day after we got here, HP started sitting up in her crib, a milestone that went largely unheralded. It’s a toss-up now of what I see first in the morning; my daughter, sitting up in the play yard, waving her arms, playing peekaboo with her blankie, or otherwise trying to get Bub’s attention. Which isn’t very hard to do, since he’s generally standing there, at the foot of our bed. Not talking, not playing, just STANDING THERE. Then the banter starts:
“What are you DOING, HP?”
“Bababababababa.”
“What’s THAT mean, HP? That’s SILLY.”
“Gagagagagagagaga.”
“Hey, HP, wanna look at me? Watch this…JUMP!”
“Mamamamamamama.”
“Wanna see it again? Okay, JUMP! JUMP! JUMP! JUMP! JUMP! Oh, hi, Mommy. HP’s a-WAKE!”
By this point, of course, the other three adults (and cat) are also wide awake. This point is averaging around 6:45 a.m. Some of us just start shuffling toward the coffee and formula bottles, resigned. Others try and Humpty Dumpty those shattered slivers of slumber back together again, rarely with success.
There’s the din of breakfast, set to the soundtrack of Bub bombarding any bleary-eyed adult within earshot WHY. Why do you have to go to work? Why is the cat sleeping? Why did you hang this plant here? That’s silly. WHY, WHY WHY?
When the dust settles, it’s me with the two kids. Just like old times. Only without 95 percent of their toys and books and art supplies and balls. But it’s summer and beautiful here. We bought a big orange ball. Enough said. And we have the caregiver’s trifecta (grocery store, library, playground) all within walking distance. Some days we have the car. We explore, we have minor adventures, one of us sleeps in the car. Not me, that’s illegal. Then the whole dinner/bathing evening ritual tornadoes through the place, leaving two kids snoring, and four adults strewn about the wreckage in various phases of recovery.
I tried to explain all this to my brother and his wife in advance. But that would be like trying to explain winter to a newborn squirrel. Geez, don’t we have ENOUGH nuts already, Dad? My paws hurt.
Anyway, they are so generous in their hospitality; I mean it as a compliment when I say that we wouldn’t put this burden on anyone else. We’re like a traveling family band, with no instruments. And we don’t travel. So check that, we’re more of a traveling carnival. No rides, but a jolly good freak show.

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