No laughing matter

It finally happened.

I can't say I expected it, but I wasn't surprised.

The chance of finding me at home in the middle of the day in the middle of the week is rare, but my baby-sitter had an appointment that left me spending my lunch break at home with the girls.

I was supposed to be cleaning house, but the baby was feeling ticklish and she has an irresistible, almost forced, laugh that changes your number one priority from whatever it might have been to making her laugh more. Giggles start deep in her stomach and then explode out with a puff of air and a smile.

It's a lot of work for her.

I was giving her a chance to catch her breath when the knock came.

It took me a minute to decide whether to answer it. In the middle of the day the only callers are usually peddling religion, food or a fund-raising scheme and I wasn't in the mood for any of them, but I opened the door anyway.

He identified himself as an employee of the Department of Social Services.

When you display your life before the public, vow to be truthful about both the good times and the bad, you're bound to have some backlash.

Like I said, I wasn't really surprised.

I did wish I had spent my time cleaning, but I can't complain. Chasing after a smiling baby wins over vacuuming every time.

Evidently, one of my columns encouraged someone to call in a report and then the sight of the baby chewing on the lip of an empty wine cooler bottle at my husband's company picnic (she's teething and bottles are her new favorite chew toy) drove that same person to call again.

It was the second call that prompted the visit, which ended in a great discussion about the difficulties of being a social worker.

My girls were not intimidated at all. The baby was showing off by throwing Thirstystone coasters across the room and trying to pull a shelf full of knick-nacks onto the floor.

Katie all but crawled into his lap with a magazine and a dozen "What's thas?"

He had a hard time convincing her what she thought was a "harsie" was in fact an elephant and that the other "harsie" was a giraffe.

Her insatiable curiosity is rubbing off on her sister. I'm going to have to log Nikki's first words as "waz tat," just like her sister.

Their curiosity about the world around them is limitless, and always amusing, but they're very vague when asking for a description and kind of point with their whole hand instead of a finger. We have to answer with a list that we hope includes what they're actually asking about: Light, fan, kitchen, bug, window, outside, man who's here to make sure you aren't being abused.

He's just doing his job, and every time I have to turn off the television or leave the room when a report of child abuse makes the top story on the 5 o'clock news and that's a lot more than it should I thank God he's there to do that job.

Even if it meant I was in his spotlight for awhile.

After months of practice and months of Katie screaming "NO!" we've finally gotten her to say please.

It was tough on her. That stubborn streak is wide, but finally she realized that no please meant no Barney.

That was the deciding factor.

Of course, we're at the other end of the spectrum now for two reasons, training and cuteness.

She doesn't even ask for anything specific now. She just comes up, cocks her head to the side and says "Peez?"

She's got me there.

The other problem is that, in order to train her to say please, we have to respond quickly by giving her what she was asking for when she said it.

That usually means sliding a video of Sing and Dance Barney into the VCR.

She's now under the impression that saying please entitles her to anything she's asked for.

And she's so adorable it usually works.

She's learning that a little courtesy goes a long way.

So am I.

Please.

Please understand my children are happy and healthy, albeit one is clearly a two-year-old with an ear piercing scream and throws an award-winning tantrum, and they're the most important, most cherished thing in my life.

Thank you.

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