Someone agreed to host six kid cousins in my house for nine days. I am that idiot. This unfortunate event, misnamed a “vacation”, was suggested years ago by some well-meaning aunts so the cousins could get together every year because “they won’t be young forever”. I can sympathize with that. I once thought I would be young forever until one day at age 28 in the middle of a ski run my back quickly left on a plane for Tahiti, leaving the rest of me doubled over my skis plummeting towards the lodge.
The only apparent advantage of flying cousins around the country is that some of the parents will enjoy a week without kids. This time is actually spent catching-up on the sleep deficit acquired from the last time you were the vacation hosts. And put out of your minds any thoughts of chasing your spouse around the house butt-naked intending to have sex repeatedly in each room. The husbands also should put this thought out of their minds.
This year the rotating vacation cyclone landed six kidiots, ages 8 to 16, in my territory. The hosts were Uncle Dave, The-Mean-and-Grumpy and Aunt Marilyn, The Commander, who mostly cowered in the bathroom for the week while the cats supervised and entertained everyone else.
Our adventure began with two round trips to the airport after which Uncle Dave laid down three simple rules:
Rule number 1 was “no yelling after midnight”. This rule was broken the first night at 12:01 am when T-Rex snacked on a guy’s head in “Jurassic Park”.
Rule number 2, “pick-up after yourself”, flew out the window when the living room quickly morphed into a jungle scene with narrow animal paths leading to the bathroom and the refrigerator.
Rule number 3 was “do not ask when we are going to do anything, as in ‘Uncle Dave, what time are we going to the pool?’” This rule was broken instinctively:
UNCLE DAVE: So Aaron how was your flight?
AARON THE VACANT: Uncle Dave, what time are we going to the pool?
If you’re an uncle in charge of a bunch of kid Velociraptors, here are some useful tips:
1. Never say exactly what time an activity will commence. The chance of the activity starting at that time is like any of the Swamp People surviving to a time past age 25.
2. Enforce the supplemental “I-only-say-things-once” rule, which is used after someone repeatedly asks you when you’re going to start some activity.
UNCLE DAVE (violating the first tip): We’re leaving for the pool at 2 o’clock.
AARON THE VACANT (three minutes later): Uncle Dave, what time are we going to the pool?
UNCLE DAVE (wearily): I only say things once.
PETER THE CLEVER (grinning): Uncle Dave, you already said ‘I only say things once’ seven times today.
3. Ensure you have a kitten or a puppy in the house. This year our kitten provided much entertainment by swallowing a piece of knitting yarn slightly longer than the length of its intestines. An hour later Uncle Dave held the cat and the younger cousins enjoyed separate turns at helping the yarn complete its journey through the animal.
If you’re the Aunt, these tips may help:
1. Keep many bandages handy because the uncle will hurt himself trying to keep up with little kids.
2. Make the cousins wash their hands often as you’ll never know when they might have just pulled yarn out of a cat’s butt.
Armed with all this advice you won’t need to do much else, like spend a lot of money on nutritious food for the week. Instead, you will spend a lot of money on candy, canned cheese and bubble gum.
Also remember that activities will be impossible to schedule if you have teen-aged cousins, as there is not much to do between the hours after 3pm until 3am when they’re awake. During the other times, simply instruct the younger kids to have water balloon fights on the neighbor’s trampoline.
Finally, after everyone is safely back on the wrong planes home, you can add up the damages. Expenses for food and activities: $100 per day. Satisfaction of torturing kidiots: priceless.