Recently my husband and I took a vacation. The children were not invited. Amid threats of leaving home, accusations implying we didn’t love them and hints of total destruction of hearth and home, I stood my ground. This is not to say I didn’t have a few pangs of guilt.

To ease my feelings I let them help select their baby sitter. They immediately ruled out my choices: Marine Sgt. O’Slaughtery and former Sumi wrestler Killer Wong. I immediately ruled out their choices: their ten-year-old next door neighbor and the man who drives the ice cream truck. Eventually, through total effort on both sides, we agreed.

The morning we were to leave, the sitter arrived just as our daughter was loudly reprimanding her three-year-old brother for tying our toddler’s thumbs together. It seems he was using her dog’s leash to accomplish this. Our oldest son was yelling louder than any of them to be quiet as he required total concentration to finish his list of what we were to bring him home.

“Are they always like this?” she asked as she surveyed the ensuing holocaust.

“Only when they’re awake, I assured her”, as I motioned to my husband to lock the door behind her and then I added,

“Before we leave, I do have some last minute instructions you may find useful.” (I sensed immediately she could use all the help available.)

“The garbage is picked up on Wednesdays and if you’ll keep a pair of sneakers by the front door you should be able to chase them down before they get to the next block. The milkman comes on Monday and do tell him to be more careful. The last barrel he left leaked something terrible. No matter what the children tell you, there is no teacher’s meeting this week, our daughter is not allowed to wear fire engine red nail polish, our 6 and 7-year-old do not get $100 a week allowances. Johnny Carson is not their uncle and they do not eat sugared corn flakes topped with pancake syrup and chocolate milk for breakfast. I would give you the grandmothers’ phone numbers but, strangely enough, they were each called out of town at the last minute. One has an emergency appointment with her guru and one has a national meeting of Planned Parenthood. Don’t worry about the doctor’s number. The pharmacy delivers regularly on Thursday with baby aspirin, calamine lotion, cough syrup, suppositories and splints.

The children go to bed at 8 pm and go to sleep between 1:30 and 2 am. You will find a lock conveniently located beyond their arm’s reach above each door. However, the padlocks were misplaced sometime back but I have found a Barbie or Ken leg carefully placed in the hinge is sufficient. Well, I guess that’s about it. I’m sure everything will run smoothly and you’ll have nothing to worry about.”

I was walking out the door as the sitter asked one last question.

“What’s that you say???”, I said in disbelief. “You want the number where we can be reached?”

I laughed hysterically all the way to the airport.