I had forgotten what it was like to have small children around the house when we promised our daughter we would watch her three children for a week. We were really excited. They live about 14 hours away, so we don’t see them as often as we would like.

The day finally arrived when we met her to pick up the children. They excitedly ran to meet us, yelling, “Gampa! Gamma!” The youngest, Luke, only 18 months old, yelled as loud as the others, though I’m sure he had no idea why he was saying it.

We took them home, and hadn’t been there an hour before Luke had climbed onto the bathroom counter and spread toothpaste all over the mirrors, walls, and sink. I didn’t even remember that an 18 month old could climb. We went through the house and tried to make sure everything was out of reach, but it was less than an hour later that he had poured a brand new bottle of suntan lotion on the carpet. I don’t have any idea where he got that.

My two granddaughters wanted to help me milk the cow, so we trudged out to the barn. I soon learned that manure piles are a magnet for small children. If there was only one manure pile in the whole barnyard, somehow they both managed to step in it. After the milking was all done, I had to spend 15 minutes scrubbing their shoes before my wife would let them in the house.

We went out to pick raspberries together. My granddaughters picked by my side.

“Gampa,” little Annee said, “these white ones don’t taste berry good.”

“No, Sweetheart. You should only pick the red ones.”

She pulled all of the white ones from her bucket, and before I could say anything, she dropped them into mine. “Here, Gampa. I give them to you.”

I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I had to wait until she wasn’t looking to pick them out.

At breakfast the next morning we had pancakes with raspberry jam. We found out that Luke not only loved raspberry jam, but he could drink raw milk by the gallons. He would come to the table almost every hour and say, “Pzz” and point at a cup. We always tried to pay attention to him and give him some milk, but one evening, when supper was over, no one was paying attention when he climbed up to the table.

That was okay with him, because the gallon of milk and the bowl of raspberry jam were both sitting there. I came in and found him reaching his little hand in the gallon of milk and trying to grab some. When he would pull his little fist out, it would be empty, so he would lick his hand off and do it again. He alternated that with sticking his other hand in the bowl of raspberry jam and trying to grab a handful of that. He had jam and milk all over his face. You might say I caught him red-handed, but he only grinned a happy grin at me.

I fixed him some bread to go with his jam, and put milk in a cup. When he was all done eating, he definitely needed a bath. My wife bathed him while I gathered my two granddaughters and my two smallest daughters around me for story time. When we finished, they all gave me a big hug and a kiss and headed off to bed. My wife put little Luke into my arms, clean, smelling of baby shampoo, and wrapped in a towel. He snuggled up against me, and smiling, fell asleep.

Yes, I had forgotten what it is like to have small children around the house.

Daris Howard
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Daris Howard

Daris and his wife, Donna, have ten children and were foster parents for several years. He has also worked in scouting and cub scouts, at one time having 18 boys in his scout troop. His plays, musicals, and books build on the characters of those he has associated with, along with his many experiences. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer