I'm sure when people envision having children they dream of the pitter-patter of little feet and shrieks of laughter.
Oh, to be young and delusional again.
When I hear laughter from upstairs, I immediately start to sweat. I have four kids and know what their unsupervised giggles could mean. I know it's only a matter of time before someone is crying and needing me to get up and parent.
Ugh! Don't make me parent again! I just want to finish this cup of tea for crying out loud!
I know I'm throwing Miss Hannigan (from "Annie" in case you live under a rock) vibes but ...
Here are the things I think about when I hear the kids upstairs laughing:
1. Is someone hurting someone? Is it a pillow fight that could turn ugly and end with a punch to the face?
2. I don't care what inappropriate thing has just been said, but I guarantee someone is going to try to upstage someone in the fart/poop joke competition and it's going to end with one of them screaming that the other one said the 'D' word and me trying to figure out what the 'D' word is (it could be dumb) and then how to fake giving a 'D.'
3. What are they into and could it do permanent damage? The magnetic slime of Christmas has further proved that I make bad decisions and kids are the reason I can't have nice things.
4. Why are we playing tag inside? I get that it's fun but it always ends with slamming doors and finger injuries. I still get heartburn recalling the time we ended up in the ER with a severed thumb due to a door hinge.
5. Are we laughing at another's expense or the invasion of his or her privacy? If so, I know all your tolerance levels and we've got about 30 seconds before all heck breaks loose.
6. Is a doll being dismembered or someone's Lego ship being dismantled? Please refer to No. 5.
7. Are you having a tickle fight/fun wrestling match? I hate to be the overbearing mother who says "no" to everything, but please just stop before somebody accidentally slams someone's head into a bed post or you make them wet their pants.
8. Are you touching the laundry? I guarantee there is a basket of clean folded clothes in every room and if you undo any of the work I've done, I will find you.
9. If the laughter is coming from the bathroom and there's more than one of you there, stop what you are doing and could any children not brushing their teeth or on the toilet please evacuate. If the laughing is connected to the porcupine butt dance (basically a naked dance where one sticks their butt in the air) ... just no. We are getting a little too old for that one.
10. No throwing anything for any reason. All throwing toys are outside already. Keep-away will inevitably lead to someone getting shoved into a closet. Pull-ups are NEVER thrown and go on the other list of: Things I never thought I'd have to say. If I find one that, in a game of toss, accidentally ends up behind the bed again, I'm going to full on lose it.
Sorry for this spoiler of reasons the children's laughter doesn't fill me full of joy, but this is the reality of their shrieks and pitter-patter. I probably shouldn't feel this way, but experience and real life has laid down some hard truths and I desperately need a nap. It's hard to believe such happy noises could make one hold her breath and contract every muscle in her body, but that's the way it is.
Food for thought: Miss Hannigan probably started out a sober, respectable woman with a love for children and wanting to make a difference in the world. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.