“Twenty Minutes”

            “Where are you going?” 

“Hair lady check-up…”
“Hair lady? Check-up?”  I didn’t understand.
My friend, Candy, with her abbreviated vocabulary laughed, “The girl who cuts my hair is going to look at my hair and tell me what she’s going to cut, color and perm for my next appointment.”
“You taking your kids?”  I remembered the time I took mine to an eyebrow waxing and the owner of the store was so unsettled by the sheer presence of my children milling about her legs, touching plastic covered lotions and soaps, that she left my eyebrows permanently looking like I had just asked a question.
“Yes, I’m taking them.  She said it would only take a few minutes.”
“Only a few minutes?” Before my mind could stop me, my mouth was already there, “Well, why don’t I watch them so you can have a little peace at your appointment?”
“Really?  That would be great!  You wouldn’t mind?”
“No, no, I’ve got to make meatballs for dinner and that will be a good distraction for my kids, so I can get cooking.”
Candy was grateful and dropped off her two children, Nick, five and Mary, three, saying said she’d be back within twenty minutes.  My kids, Ty, five and Meg, one, were thrilled to see their little buddies walk through the door.
“Be back in twenty minutes!”  Candy yelled, disappearing out the door.
“Take your time!” I said, confident as the children meandered into the closed garage, full of toys, leaving me to slap on rubber doctor gloves (I hate touching raw meat) and start mixing my meatballs.
Two minutes later I heard laughing.  As I wiped onion-induced tears from my eyes, I smiled, happy that I was able to help a friend and maintain a household of laughing kids.
Suddenly, Meg, began laughing a little too loud.  I leaned my head around the corner of the kitchen to peek into the garage and caught a glimpse of the boys pushing Meg in her baby swing.
“Careful, boys!  She’s just a baby.”
“We know!”  They harmonized together.
The laughing continued for a few more seconds.  Then I heard a scream.
Running to the garage, gloved hands high, like a surgeon racing to (or from) surgery, I saw Ty, doubled over in laughter on the floor, and Nick, hovering over Meg trying to squeeze a small baby toilet seat cover down around her head.
“What are you doing!?”  I shouted, stopping them in their tracks.
After a stern talking to, I shooed the boys one way and directed the girls another.
I went back to my meatballs sure there would be no more uproars any time soon.  I began rolling my meat into little balls and dropping them into the pot of red sauce.
While molding my second meatball I saw, out of the corner of my eye, the boys literally tiptoeing down the hallway.  I followed them quietly, keeping my distance and surgeon hands up.
“Mom, can we go outside?”  Yelled my son, standing in the hall.
“Who’s we?”  Asked the mother, hiding behind the sofa.
“Me and Nick…we’ll make sure the girls stay inside.”  Anytime a five year old tells you he’s going to ‘make sure’ of something, you better be watching or someone could die.
I watched as the boys made their exit, glad they were outside to cause damage instead of in.  I returned to the kitchen to roll my 4th meatball in ten minutes.
“Four…Five….” I was now counting each meatball I’d made trying to keep my mind off of the noises I was hearing from the girls, who were now whacking each other in the head attempting to control the tower of blocks they had built.  Small fight.  I ignored them.  Continuing dropping meatballs. “Six…”
“Bang! Boom!”
Gloves in the air, I ran to the noise!  Out the back door to the side gate and there dangling on top of my gate was a small human body.  Nick!  Ty stood at the bottom, like a tiny circus man waiting to catch an elephant, holding both arms up whispering as loud as he could, “Jump!  I got you!”
I was furious!  “Get down!” I yelled at Nick surprising both of them.  Afraid to touch him with my raw-meat-infested gloves, I reached to help Nick with bare wrists and arms.
I glared at Ty, “What’s the rule in our house?!  Say it with me, ‘No one is allowed to climb this gate. Ever!’”
“I forgot,” was the sullen response.
I corralled them all back to the garage with crayons and markers getting them to promise to sit quietly until I finished meatball twenty-five.
“Then we can be bad?” Mary asked so serious, I had to laugh.
Just then the garage door opened.
I looked to my left and there was Ty, standing a foot away from the opener with a broom.
Ty’s look was sheer terror, “Sorry, Mom, the broom hit it on accident!”
“What are you doing with a broom?  Put the broom down!”  I had been alone with all these children only sixteen minutes and was two minutes away from a mental breakdown.
Just then our neighbor’s brand new oversized puppies, came bouncing into our garage!  The children screamed for joy!  The dogs, just as excited, jumped on the children, knocking Meg down and like a vision on slow motion television; one of the dogs lifted his leg and peed on Meg’s face!
“Out!!”  I screamed above Meg crying and the children’s cheers of live animals in their presence.  Reaching to rescue my hysterical wet child from the puddle of pee, one of the dogs chomped on my meat smelling glove, ripped it from my hand, and began shaking raw beef pieces all over my garage.
“Sorry!  They dashed out of the yard when they saw the garage open and heard your kids!”  My neighbor had run to my yard to collect her beasts just as Candy appeared.
“Hey, how’d it go?” she said more to the kids then to me.
“GREAT!”  All the children spoke as one.
Candy looked over to me for reassurance, “Everything go okay?”
I had no choice but to smile back holding my dripping child, “It was great.  How was your Hair Lady?”
“Awesome.  Thanks so much for watching these guys.”
“Oh, please!  It was only twenty minutes.”