My wife has been gone much of this week, broadcasting from the Iowa State Fair. That means I’ve been home with the kids. Alone.
My oldest daughter, Tess, has made quite a few little friends in the neighborhood, as of late. And it’s not unusual for them to run screaming and laughing around my home. This prompts my dog to bark non-stop. It’s chaos.
But when it’s finally time to get ready for bed, little friends say adios. Things get quiet. Too quiet.
On Wednesday night, after their departure, I noticed I was short one child. Tess was present. Ella, 3, was absent.
I looked around the house and didn’t find her. I looked out in the back yard and saw no signs. Tess began to cry, fearing that we had misplaced her sister for good. My steely calm began to drain.
Ella has been known to hide, very well, and brazenly ignore requests for her presence. Figuring this was the case, I strongly requested that she show herself. Multiple times. Loudly.
I had no idea how loud until I walked out to double check the front yard. Neighbors who were in their own front yards were turned toward my house.
What gives? Then, I immediately remembered a few nights earlier, when I was on my patio and heard my neighbor’s newborn crying, plain as day. They say walls don’t talk. Vinyl siding, evidently does. Mine just yelled ELLA! several times.
No problem. Ella is close to Stella. I’ll tell them I’m trying out for “A Streetcar Named Desire.” No. Just avoid eye contact and go back inside. Quietly.
Anyway, when I walked back in, Ella was at the back door, smiling, donning a Cinderella ball gown. She had been holed up in some backyard nook or cranny I failed to investigate. I scolded her for going outside without telling me. The lesson was less effective when delivered at a whisper, however.
Two children, check, and one overzealous loudmouth, check. Back to normal.