The normal level of chaos in my house doubles (triples even) when 4-year-old cousin Isiac comes to visit.
It's an event that rocks my bones for days (and impact the house even longer).
That thunderbolt hit this week.
Nikki was crying listlessly, not giving any indication what was wrong. Despite the best attempts at making her happy, nothing worked.
Then Isiac arrived and the energy (and smile) level doubled. I'm OK with more smiles, but as their energy increased, mine waned.
Now, we have one room full of "girl" toys and another filled with "boy" toys. After a visit from which the boys' room has yet to recover, all children were banned. Isiac was told that he had to demonstrate he could clean up after himself before he would be allowed back into the room of cars, action figures, electronic toys and robots.
Let me take just a second to tell you that Isiac wasn't alone in creating the catastrophe. Both Nikki and Katie have been banned for life (well a couple of years at least) since they snuck in and played "toss all the money and little plastic people from the Life game into any narrow and obscure place you can find."
They're not even allowed through the door. That's a lot of money and it took me hours to find it and get it back into the right slots.
In addition, they always go straight for the drum set. Do I need any other reasons?
Anyway, Isiac is the only one who has been given the chance to regain admittance. And, it's something he's working very hard for.
He cleaned the girls' room so well that nothing was left on the floor. Nothing was left on any of the shelves he could reach either.
To get it that spotless, he threw everything into the play pen where Nikki sleeps and then climbed in on top of it.
When I walked in, it was hard to dampen his pride in his accomplishment.
"Where's Nikki going to sleep?" I asked.
"On the floor," he replied.
He was right, there was now plenty of room, but since my heart can't take any more nights of waking up with a little face two inches from my own, I opted for confined rest on Nikki's part.
A few minutes later I returned and Nikki's play pen had been returned to its pre-purchase sparseness. Even her blankets were gone and were lost somewhere in the pile that was now on the floor.
I couldn't even make it past the door, the floor was so cluttered. Isiac had help. As he threw the toys out of the play pen, Katie and Nikki spread them around.
I hated to burst his bubble, but that wasn't really considered clean. So I left again.
When I returned, the floor was again spotless, but this time, Katie's bed was missing beneath the pile of toys and blankets.
"Where's Katie going to sleep?" I asked.
He laughed as I made clear (again) something that hadn't occurred to him.
"On the couch with me!" was his answer. He knew from previous experience that "on the floor" didn't go over very well.
Well, we worked together to correct the situation and he was allowed solitary entrance to the boys' room to choose one toy.
"You have to tell my mom I was a good boy and I helped," he said.
He's at the age where he loves being helpful.
"I can clean house," he told me more than once.
And even though when they "help" they're making it worse instead of better, you have to let them. It's so sweet to see them acting "big."
I can't wait until my girls are at the age where they want to be "big."
My house, on the other hand, is in no great hurry.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.