When I stay at my parents’ house, something happens to me.

I find myself searching the fridge, freezer and cupboards for any special food I may be able to consume at no cost to myself.

Although I do far less cleaning here, I do it with a greater sense of pride and magnanimity. “My mom is gonna be so proud of me that I cleaned up… my own breakfast dishes.” Yesterday I even lent a hand and helped fold the last of 10 loads of laundry my mom was working on. I really do deserve a gold star. How she and my dad generate that amount of dirty clothes is beyond me.

All of mine and my kids’ clothes magically clean and fold themselves when we’re here. It’s freaky but I think I like it.

This morning my mom headed out to a quilting class and she asked if I’d be okay without her. It made me pause. “Yeah… I think I could watch the kids for a couple of hours. When will you be home?”

While she was gone, I had to change a poo-splosion, make two meals by myself, help my dad supervise outdoor play AND press play on the DVD player… TWICE! She’s back now, reading stories to the kids so I can finally relax.

She and my dad were both out when two little kids came to the door selling chocolate bars for their softball team. It took every bit of strength I possessed to suck the words back in before they were out of my mouth, “I’m sorry. My mom’s not home right now. Maybe you could try again later.” I imagined the looks on their faces as they noticed that I was probably older than their mom.

I imagined my parents’ house getting a large red X on the child-labor-law-breaking solicitor maps, being labeled as those people who spit on the neighbor kids’ pigtails as they throw their chocolate bars back in their face. Not wanting them to go down like that, I went ahead and purchased some premium dark mint chocolate… for the good of the town.

I may even eat it later, unless I have to babysit these kids again.

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