Here's how it went down. A set of grandparents, bless 'em, decided to come in for an all-too rare visit. Foolishly, they mentioned this to a grandson, my nephew. The nephew went green with envy and then white with begging and then red with rage. Admiring his Italian spirit, the grandparents caved, and suggested to his auntie (me) that the child accompany them. The auntie, looking at her own, somewhat overstimulated offspring, expressed some concerns but agreed that yes, this was a cause worth pursuing. Somewhere in the middle of all of this the nephew's father called up and roared at the auntie, chastising her for lack of commitment to the cause and possible egaliatarian leanings. The auntie, now headless, growled back and went about her business.
And there we were: two small boys in the 2-4 year range, one baby, four adults. Given the adult to child ratios, this should have been pie. Um, right. The first casualty of war was a grandmaternal back. It considered the situation and decided to go out. Way, way out. The second to fall was a paternal knee. It had been valiantly struggling along for a week, sans medical care, and finally swelled with indignation and served notice. The survivors began to get nervous, and quietly assessed each other for potential areas of weakness. When the maternal hand began shrieking with tendonitis, she wisely kept the experience more or less to herself and hung in there.
And so it went. The boys played together surprisingly well, the baby developed a fondness for chewing on anything in a five foot range, and a decided appreciation for grandpaternal ties. (they are extremely good ties.) We survivors parked the grandmaternal back on a sofa with a pile of books, which she read to the small barbarians whenever they came within range. The grandfather, aka 'Saba,' even took a turn at reading, and managed to do a set of hilarious voices that made the mother flee for the bathroom, muttering something about kegels. And the grandfather and mother managed a very intense, late-night (of course) discussion about her dissertation, leaving her freshly fired up and intrigued by her own ideas. Not too shabby, Saba.
Finally, one pavlova, many dead chickens and three enormous salads later, (not to mention five pairs of underwear belonging to the visiting and newly toilet trained nephew), a station wagon filled up and drove off.
Let the healing begin.