At one point today I looked around me and thought, “Leave me with just one of my own kids = house a mess for a week. Leave me with four other peoples’ kids = inside an hour, the house is neater than it has been for ages.”

This morning a friend dropped off her four kids and I took them and mine to the sprinkler park for a couple of hours. That was hard; at one point I wondered what the heck I had been thinking. Supervise a toddler, my poky littlest son, a couple of grumpy pre-teens, and three active boys, all by myself in a giant park? GAH. When Terran was stung by a bee, I thought I was done in for. But he was fine, and everyone was fine, and we got through it and got home.

We walked home after that, and while the kids constructively occupied themselves I cleaned. 

My house is a wonderland of constructive ways for kids to occupy themselves and each of them found something to do: one designed and sewed a hat from scratch, two challenged each other on a multiplication game, and the baby wandered from trains to musical instruments to the watercoloring station. There was impromptu face painting as well. The microscope was popular today too, with random objects being looked at after I brought it out to show Terran his bee stinger. Oh and we talked about gender roles and childhood prejudices.

I kept myself apart from the kids, but close to them, deep-cleaning the kitchen and reorganizing the bathroom, the whole time all this went on. As long as I was bustling, I was a presence but not a distraction. I could step in to redirect and I knew exactly what was going on, but I wasn’t interfering; I was letting them follow their interests. It’s a zen kind of way to be and I like doing it.

Then they went home. Verdi and Bear had Dungeons & Dragons. Verdi made dinner. We roasted marshmallows on the stove. Bear designed a new game, Verdi attempted to organize his next week, and Terran lost it and got goofy and was sent to bed early.

It was a good day.