Twelve. That's how many peaceful days we had when the new neighbors took their whole clan for a road trip. Except for the pregnant dog and the pregnant cat. I know all this because they told me. Nine-Year-Old was waiting in our driveway the morning they were headed out. I was busy strapping the wee ones in their car seats on our way to the food mart. Nine-Year-Old wanted to let us know how much she would miss us while they were gone. Gone? I tried not to look too pleased about this news as I inquired just how long they were going to be GONE? (I tried really hard, but I couldn't help stressing the word "GONE?")
She told me ten days and that they were visiting their home state a few hundred miles away, and at this point it was impossible for me to mask my pleasure. I asked about the dog, and she told me they had put him in a kennel. I asked about the cat, and she told me the cat was staying in the garage (except that when they got home they found her in one of the upstairs bedrooms where she had given birth to her two new kittens). I only asked because I was morbidly curious as I envisioned a van packed with two adults, five kids, a pregnant dog (who is the size of a horse), and a pregnant cat for several hundred miles each direction.
Satisfied with the answer, I hopped in the family-mobile and watched Nine-Year-Old's face disappear as the auto slider doors closed. I must've giggled a little, despite myself, as Dear Daughter inquired what I was laughing at. I got a grip as I was pulling out of the driveway and spotted Neighbor Dad cramming their own family mobile with so much stuff that I couldn't imagine where two parents and the 11, 9, 7, almost 5, and 2 yr olds were going to fit. I decided to kill them with kindness, despite our annoyance with them for the way they let their kids run wild and unsupervised around our property (and everyone else's), don't clean up the massive poop piles their dog leaves on our property, and let their yard and every living plant in it grow over. I rolled down the window and offered to collect their mail for them while they were gone. I also inquired again how long they would be gone. This time the answer I got was 11 days. I was beside myself with relief and even had to call Dear Husband immediately on his cell phone because I couldn't wait to announce the good news.
Gleefully, 11 days turned into 12. But all good things must come to an end. Almost-Five-Year-Old is back to stalking us in our driveway and helping himself to Daughter's toys the second the garage door opens. I'm teaching him to have manners and ask first and put stuff away when he's done. Two-Year-Old is running aimlessly about the cul-de-sac exploring all the neighbors' yards unsupervised. Next time she comes into ours unsupervised I will have to pay a visit to the parents and request that they not allow her in our garage or yard unsupervised as we do not want her to get hurt on our property. Eleven-Year-Old and Nine-Year-Old are busy climbing the smallish maple tree in the front yard and breaking every tender branch in the process. When they are done it looks worse than any of the trees in the area that survived the ice storm four months ago.
We spent our Mother's Day bar-b-cue sitting on our deck yelling across the picnic table to hear each other above the roar of the garden tiller Neighbor Dad had attached to his weed eater. For cryin' out loud, he was only at it for about six solid hours. And that was AFTER he spent two days trying to mow down his overgrown lawn that badly needed a mow job BEFORE they even left for their 12 day road trip. It was rainy in between all the sun the entire time they were gone, so that ensured that the grass grew at record fast speed and had gone to seed before they returned home to tend to it. We had two solid days of loud obnoxious "wrrrrrr-chug chug chug....grnnnnnnnnnnn sputter sputter" sounds that came from the lawn mower since he didn't use the hay bailer he really needed. At least he was making an effort to clean the place up. I have always hated the fact that our home association doesn't back up their own covenant, which states that if lawns are not kept neatly trimmed they will bring in a lawn service to do it and bill you accordingly.
The other day I saw the clan at the food mart. They were steering their train of shopping carts to the checkout, and I was ducking behind a row of maxi-pads, praying that Daughter didn't spy them and that she wouldn't yell out, "Look, Mommy! There's our neighbors!" Fortunately she didn't, and I thought the coast was clear. However, when we got home, the brood was still in their driveway hauling food into their house (except for Almost-Five-Year-Old, who was stalking our driveway), and Seven-Year-Old hollered over to me, "We saw you at the store!" Great. I'm being stalked everywhere I go!
I keep having visions of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when the uninvited cousin shows up to the party in his beat up old Winnebago. You know the scene where he is standing there in his undershorts and work boots and fleece lined hat with the ear flaps and the chin strap dangling while he smokes his cigar and belches and dumps the portable crapper down the storm drain. That's what we're dealing with here, folks.
On the bright side, Woolly Mammoth Dog has not dropped any king-sized crap piles in our grass since their return, so there's that.