By Ned Hickson
Our child care provider is more than someone who watches our son for us during the day. She's also our friend. So when she found herself in a bind, I told her I'd be happy to watch the kids for a couple of hours; six children, all under the age of four.
I did this yesterday.
Today, I'm writing to you from a locked treatment facility for the emotionally disturbed.
Being a parent, it's not like I didn't know what to expect; I simply multiplied my three-year-old son by six.
I was prepared.
I came with a plan.
I had ideas for things to do.
And, if all else failed, I came with a bungee cord large enough to wrap all six of them together in the middle of the lawn.
Let me just say that, for any men who might find themselves in this situation, I'd suggest wearing an athletic cup. That's because, for some reason, all children believe that the only way to get your attention is to stand directly in front of you, wait until you're not looking, and then poke you directly in the [censored].
I say this all in retrospect, having NOT brought an athletic supporter and, instead, resorting to the next best thing: Duct-taping a coffee mug to myself.
As anyone will tell you, the key to supervising children is keeping them active. Provide them with things to do and they'll be totally unaware that you are, in effect, slowly going insane. To accomplish this, we played softball, soccer, hopscotch, and then colored a giant dragon that I drew on the sidewalk in chalk. Thanks to my planning and organization, these activities kept everyone entertained for well over 15 minutes.
Which left me with another hour to fill.
Desperate, I did what any good child care provider would do in this situation:
I kindled their imaginations by telling them I had a giant snake in the car.
This, of course, was very exciting, and we spent the next 10 minutes talking about how big it was, where it came from, and whether or not it had once been an executive from ENRON.
Everything was going great until, naturally, they demanded to see it.
Now, because I didn't actually HAVE a 50-foot anaconda in the car, I was left with only one option, which was to tell them it must've escaped.
If you've never heard the sound of six small children screaming at once, you can experience the same thing by sticking a bull horn next to your ear and pushing the "siren" button.
I should explain that our child care provider's home is somewhat secluded, which is what kept anyone from reporting a strange man with a coffee mug strapped to his pants chasing down a herd of screaming children on the front lawn. On the bright side, it did shave another 20 minutes off the clock, which left me with just enough time to get everyone calmed down and back inside before anyone showed up.
To the parents, I apologize for any future psychological treatment your children may require. To our child care provider, I've gained an even higher level of appreciation for what you do.
And to my family:
They say I can leave any day now -- just as soon as I give up the coffee mug.
You can write to Ned Hickson at:
The Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.