"Now, you know, Handsome, I'm happy you're having your friends over to watch the movie with you. That's great."
I put on my 'Dad' voice.
"But, you know, Grandmama's house isn't really what you'd call 'kid friendly'. You do really well there on your own, picking up after yourself and not breaking anything, but when you have guests, they're your responsibility."
"Okay." He didn't sound too sure of himself.
"Basically, what that means is that you're responsible for any messes they make, as well as your own. You understand?"
"Uh-huh ... " He still didn't sound too confident in his answer.
"What I'm saying is that any messes that happen, you're cleaning up. I don't care how big they are, you're cleaning them. Understand, Kiddo?"
"I understand!" By George, I think he's got it!
He went and fetched W- and his sister M- from across the street, and I started the movie for them. To leave them alone but stay close enough to keep an ear on them, I brought the laptop down into the kitchen and worked on my current story. Handsome was playing the host. He brought out art supplies and set them all up at the table in front of the television. He came out and asked me if they could have a snack, specifically some popcorn. I popped it in the nuker and gave them each their own bowl. They had their drinks (All either water or a non-staining flavored water. This wasn't my first time at this particular rodeo!), and they were all out there having fun. I worked my way through a fictional argument between two of my characters in the kitchen, and kept my ears peeled. I heard W- say "Oops! I made a little mess."
Handsome sprang into action. Sort of. He described, in detail, where the paper towels were so that W- could run to get some. After that I heard him speaking up with a certain regularity.
"No, clean that up!"
"Leave that alone ... don't make a mess there!"
I sat out in the kitchen and chuckled. Possibly a little evilly.
Eventually, realizing that they weren't even watching the movie, Handsome got them to go back outside to play. I strolled into the living room and my heart went 'pitter-pat'. I picked up three popcorn bowls and matching water bottles, and I skipped into the kitchen like a happy little schoolgirl. A 200 lb, shaven-headed goateed schoolgirl.
That was it.
Three kids ranging in age from 4 to almost 9, playing in a room for over an hour, and that was it for a mess.
I think I need to have these little 'responsibility' talks with Handsome more often, and then have kids over. The possibility of having to clean another's mess apparently turns my son into a mess nazi!
Although ... I would have to work on my skipping skills a little.
Talk to you later!