The kids and I have been staying with my in-laws for eleven days now while J finished up at his Los Angeles job and a truck with all our worldly belongings traveled across the country. J is now up in New Jersey, meeting with movers, registering for school, waiting for the cable guy, visiting the DMV, and generally being useful. He will drive down to meet up with us either late today or early tomorrow, which means he’ll be traveling just before Thanksgiving along with 97% of the other vehicles on the West Coast.
All I can say about how staying with my in-laws is going is that we are damned lucky they haven’t thrown us out yet. The house is filled with all sorts of exotic accents that are irresistible to my children. Like stairs. Lilah, not used to having stairs around, is obsessed with climbing yet not necessarily particularly skilled at the return route. Fortunately, her grandfather took it upon himself to give her some tutelage on how to descend the steps, somewhat alleviating my anxiety.
Another fancy touch they have here is the toilet paper. At child-level. We don’t really keep toilet paper anyplace children can reach it in our house, so all three of my kids think it is some sort of newfangled toy. At one point, Benjamin and Zachary removed all the paper from all three rolls of paper in the powder room and also emptied the box of tissues, while at the same time their sister was upstairs diligently unraveling another two rolls of paper in the hall bathroom.
Slightly more unusual is the laundry chute. I, myself, think it is kind of cool. The boys cannot get over it. There is a lid they can lift plus a hole they can throw things in. It’s basically begging for experimentation in the laws of gravity. We have learned thus far that a box of diaper wipes does clog the chute while board books and sippy cups slide right on down. Envelopes with paid bills in them only get stuck in the chute if inserted after the box of diaper wipes, whereupon my mother-in-law spends an hour-and-a-half trying to find the envelope she knows she left sitting on her bed.
Unfortunately, because we have so diligently enforced “yellow let mellow” in our own house, flushing the toilet is also a novelty. So, Benjamin decided to test the mettle of the toilet by flushing down his toothbrush. Plumbers are much more expensive on Saturdays, in case you were wondering.
He is lost, my Benjamin. He cannot understand fully that he is going to a normal place with a normal school and lots of nice children. He just does not have the cognitive ability to comprehend that the world is not flat, and we are not about to jump off the edge. All he knows is he has been ripped out of one place, is only temporarily in this other place, and there is a big void in front of him into which he is about to be shoved with absolutely no warning. So, while Zachary verbalizes his anxiety and Lilah suddenly learns how to talk and walk, Benjamin acts out. We have swept up one glass and one bowl, loosened all the light bulbs in his bedroom, and – it goes without saying – revoked all unsupervised toothbrushing privileges.
This Thanksgiving, I will be grateful for many things. We are back on the East Coast. We will be heading up to our new home on Friday. The kids will be starting school on Monday. Our family is entering a new situation that could really improve our quality of life.
Mostly, however, I will be grateful that J’s parents haven’t thrown us out on our asses.