20 Minutes of Mayhem

Last evening, I sat at the end of the table and watched the chaos around me. There are currently 16 people staying in our home. We come from different races, cultures, and backgrounds. Some of us are biologically related, but we are all family.

It was around dinner time and the commotion in the house, as usual, had reached its peak. Earlier in the week, Mr. M measured the sound level in our home during our normal dinner routine. It measured at 100 decibels. To put that in perspective, 100 decibels is equivalent to the noise of a chain saw, jackhammer, or a speeding express train.

Thankfully, most of the day is not as chaotic as our evening routine. Often the kids are in different areas of the house or yard, doing their own thing. But dinner time in our home is gathering time. As a general rule, anyone at home is expected to come to dinner. Friday evening is less rigid, as it is traditionally sandwich night, and anyone big enough to reach the counter makes their own sandwich. Most of the family shows up around the same time anyway. They like the food and sometimes I suspect they like the company.

So last evening, I sat and observed what I am usually in the middle of. We numbered 15 as we gathered around the kitchen, snacking, laughing, bickering, teasing, chatting, preparing, and planning.

The first thing I noticed was Love, walking around pulling her suitcase behind her. She was primped and perfect, ready to go visit her other grandmother for the weekend. Bea, her mama, was trying to keep Love looking pristine until she could pass her over to Goddess, which is what the other grandmother prefers to be called. Love did not share her mother’s concern as she was trying to sneak Doritos any chance she could.

Over by the front door, Leo and Jimmy were playing a game where Jimmy would run toward Leo as Leo would run and jump over Jimmy. They both thought this was hysterical and their laughter filled the room.

Marie and her best friend had just decided that they needed a new game on Marie’s iPod, so they were in the process of needling Mr. M until he would give in and install the game which they would soon tire of and would be deleted before the evening was through.

Lu was standing in the middle of the room, holding Noel and Quincy by their leashes. She was prepared to go out with Mr. M for a while to train the two dogs in assistance work. While she was waiting, she was asking if her best friend could come over and spend the night.

Alex was in the dog crate. He had been a bad dog and we all needed a break from his antics for a while. Sirius was looking longingly into the crate that he likes to nap in.

The babies were crying.

Misha sat across the table from me, nursing a hard cider and trying to ignore the commotion around him.

Mr. M was trying to explain to me in detail which computer he needed me to go buy later on that evening while he was chaperoning an event for Leo’s baseball team.  Bea decided to come along and help me because we both understood the gravity of my mission.

Eddie was walking around wearing his new, warm and fuzzy pajamas. He began bugging me to be able to come along to the store insisting he would carry the computer for me so I wouldn’t have to. Again, the gravity of our mission weighed heavily on us.

Jimmy had tired of the game with Leo and had run over to the computer desk where he found a glass of water left unattended. He immediately spilled the water everywhere.  Bea scolded Beth, our oldest daughter and newest addition to the house, because Beth had left the water there. Beth snapped at Bea. The two of them are currently sharing a room. Things can get tense between them. Beth took her baby and went downstairs.

Jimmy was again skipping through the house when he suddenly noticed he needed to use the potty . . . a little too late. He stood still and said, “Oh, I peed.” We hurried to clean the mess. Love saw her opportunity and took it. She was up at the table reaching for handfuls of Doritos as Goddess pulled in the driveway. Bea was exasperated.

Mr. M headed out the door with Leo, Lu, Noel, and Quincy.

SJ started to whine because Marie and her friend would not let him play the new iPod game with them. He started to cry loudly and yelled, “Everyone is breaking my heart!”

Eddie went to make a sandwich.

Misha let Alex out of the crate.

Bea began looking for super glue because Love broke Bea’s glasses earlier in the day.

SJ came to the table when his whining didn’t get him what he wanted. He picked up his cup and started to slurp as loudly as he could. Eddie threatened violence if the slurping continued. SJ laughed.

Jimmy had been climbing on Misha and saying, “Pow, pow, pow!” It’s their favorite saying. Then Jimmy got down to climb up to the counter and get some bacon. Misha asked Jimmy to get him some bacon as well. Jimmy ignored him.

SJ started to slurp loudly again. Eddie stomped over and took SJ’s cup. The whining began again.

Jimmy found another drink on the counter and accidentally spilled it. “Mommy, Jimmy’s sorry,” he said. Then he climbed down to go play with Alex. “Alex, sit! Good boy!” Alex stood by Jimmy’s side without a thought of sitting. Jimmy moved on to see what Princess was doing.

Bea had put Princess in her car seat and sat her on the kitchen floor. Jimmy was loving on Princess when my 20 minutes were up.

I passed Jimmy and SJ off to Misha and told Bea, Princess, and Eddie to get in the car. It was time to go get that computer.

Jimmy & Boris the Tortoise

Jimmy loves Boris.

Jimmy loves Boris.

If you came over to visit, you would notice that we have a lot of pets. I would totally buy a zoo if my husband would let me. For now, I am content begging him to buy me a farm – – just a little one. And of course, it would have to have a kennel and pond for our goldens. And I have to have chickens, maybe some goats, a dairy cow would be nice. But I digress.

Among our pets, we have a bale of turtles and a tortoise. Jimmy loves our tortoise. My guess is that if Jimmy had to pick his favorite animal, he wouldn’t have to think long before he answered with “Boris!”

Boris, our Russian Tortoise.

Boris, our Russian Tortoise.

It is not unusual for me to remind Jimmy that he needs to leave Boris and his tank alone. Several times a day, I find Jimmy staring into Boris’s habitat, talking to him and telling him all sorts of important stories, most of which I can’t understand. But Boris and Jimmy have a relationship. They are friends, and who am I to keep a boy separated from his tortoise pal? Though I do remove the toys and other paraphernalia that Jimmy sneaks into the tank on an almost daily basis.

A friendship like theirs does have its challenges — mostly for me, though Jimmy would insist that I just don’t understand. Last weekend I wrote down some of the things I actually said during a Jimmy and Boris play date.

Boris is our resident vegetarian, which is good because at least someone here will eat their veggies.

Boris is our resident vegetarian, which is good because at least someone here will eat some veggies.

“No! Don’t lick Boris! Oh, yuck!”

“No! Don’t write on Boris!” I don’t even know where the pen came from. I don’t think I looked away for a second.

“No! Don’t kiss Boris. Oh gross. Ok, whatever, kiss him, I’ll take a picture.”

“No! Don’t take Boris’s grapes, those are his grapes.”

“No! Don’t eat Boris’s lettuce, you don’t even like lettuce!”

“Put him down. No, you can’t hold him. Be careful!”

‘No! Don’t pour your orange juice on Boris. That’s not nice.”

“No! Don’t poke Boris.”

“No, you can’t give him a hug. We don’t hug tortoises. Oh, that was a nice hug.”

Jimmy trying to kiss Boris.

Jimmy trying to kiss Boris.

“Here, I think Boris wants to go back in his tank now. Say “Goodbye, Boris.'”

Actually, Boris didn’t seem to want to return to his tank at all. He was fine and seemed to enjoy the crazy antics of the 2 year old that loves him. But I couldn’t take anymore. Jimmy keeps me busy. He is fun and inquisitive and a joy to be around, but that kid can get into mischief as fast as any I’ve ever seen. Wish me and my little Russian tortoise friend luck. We need it.