Their dad was in D.C. and their mom had to take a birthday friend to a surprise party. Enter Poppa! The soon-to-be 4-year-old and her 6-year-old sister were waiting impatiently for my arrival with their rolling backpack and three kid videos.
After putting the kids into their safety seats, we began what usually is a seven-minute trip to my condo. Beside the fact that Pittsburgh's road system is in alternate weekend turmoil because of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels construction, there is something else that creates even more mayhem these days, the Penguins games.
After creeping painfully up to the turn that I needed to make to enter the parking garage, I was confronted with three uncooperative Pen's fans who would not even consider letting me into their queue. So, I turned right and left and right and left, and then heard the littlest girl say, "Poppa, I really have to go to the bathroom." Desperate times call for desperate measures, and since I don't have a siren or red light on the roof, I made an illegal U-turn and forced my way into the parking garage.
We took the roller bag to my place and went across the street to stand in line with the 200 or so Pens' fans that had the same idea as us, a pre-game dinner at the Marriott. Luckily, I had stopped at Target the previous night and bought two new Barbie dolls, some more crayons, colored pens, paper, stickers and treats. The dolls were the hit of the evening. They lost the shoes and wings (one was a fairy) several times, but the 40-minute wait slid by as the dolls flew, kissed and fought with each other in the little hands of their little owners.... all over my body while we waited to be called into dinner.
Zoey was hungry and launched into what can only be described as a culinary expedition. She ate a giant bowl of mac and cheese, french fries, half of my sandwich and two thirds of my salad. Keep in mind that she weighs about 35 pounds. As the evening went on, she found her way to my little kitchen about 26 more times. She ate a handful of Swedish Fish, five Hershey Kisses, about 77 Goldfish crackers, 14 olives, three pieces of celery, a bowl of popcorn, two pieces of cheese, a carrot, a fruit rollup and three glasses of milk between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. (Ironically, I'm the one who woke up in the middle of the night looking for Tums.)
Even though I've become a little obsessive-compulsive about keeping my apartment clean; feeding, harboring, sheltering, bathing, and playing with these two little beauties is slightly reminiscent of teaching my junior high school bands. OK, there were 185 kids in those bands and there are only two of them, but the 40 extra years I'm carrying around makes the experience feel very similar.
The next morning I served Lucky Charms, waffles, and milk. After breakfast we went across the road to Starbucks for a hot chocolate break, a trek around the outside of the garage, a tour of the building, a visit to the now empty neighbor's apartment, and two exciting trips to the trash chute. Oh, yeah, and before they left with their dad, I had made the bed, swept the floor, washed the dishes, and put away the bed clothes, pillow pet, kid's bathroom sink stool. Also, the towels were washed, folded and put away.
What am I doing tonight, you might be asking? In a nonword . . . ZZZZZZ
(Nick Jacobs, Windber, international director for SunStone Consulting, LLC is the author of the blog Healinghospitals.com.)