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Michelle breathed a small sigh of relief. She worried about the medicine cabinet. Instead, the twins had opened a drawer of soaps and shampoos. They had taken out six little bars of soap.
That was the good news. The bad news was these bars were in the toilet.
Nicky shouted, surprised. “Michelle, you aren’t allowed in here.”
“Yeah, our turn,” proclaimed Alex. He tried to shove the girl out the bathroom door.
Michelle held her ground. She gently moved Alex aside. “No, Nicky,” uttered Michelle as he grabbed another bar. “That doesn’t go...what are you doing with those bars in the toilet?”
“We were gonna flush ‘em to see how it goes down,” explained Nicky.
“That’s a no-no,” proclaimed Michelle. She stood in front of the toilet so they wouldn’t flush it. “We only put toilet paper and...” She felt her face becoming a little warm. “Well...number one and number two in the toilet.”
“Why,” both asked.
“Because the pipes are really tiny that come from the toilet,” she explained. She held her thumb and forefinger half an inch apart. While she didn’t know a lot about toilets, she could invent something. It sounded right, anyway. “Anything that goes down there that isn’t toilet paper know what could get stuck. Then you would be sitting still here while someone used a plunger to get it out. And, that would take a long time.” “Because it wouldn’t be me.”
“Like five minutes,” Alex asked.
“A lot longer. And you’d be in big trouble. We’d have to call a plumber, and he would charge lots of money. Plus, the toilet would be broken.”
“Wow, that’s bad. We couldn’t go potty,” Nicky replied.
Alex shook his head. “Yeah, we shouldn’t do that.”
Both boys helped Michelle take the soap out of the toilet. All washed their hands. “At least they understood about the toilet being broken. I knew I’d come up with something.” Michelle asked the boys to find one of their new games while she wiped off the soap.
“What do you clean soap with,” inquired Nicky.
Michelle stifled her giggles with her hand. She said she’d think of something. As they left, Michelle praised herself for intercepting that problem. She’d prevented trouble in the past. However, others had been in the house. Now she had done it with nobody to back her up.
“Still,” she said to Comet, “they’ve been a bit ornery today. I hope this isn’t the calm before the storm.”
A while later, the three went downstairs. “We're bored,” proclaimed Alex.
“Yeah,” Nicky said wearily. “What can we do?”
“You could learn to play hide and seek without jumping out and yelling ‘over here' whenever I walk in the room,” noted the schoolgirl.
“But we wanted you to find us,” the boys remarked.
Michelle mulled it over. “Look, let’s try it once more. This time, don’t let me know where you are.” She covered her eyes and counted to twenty. She walked through the house for a while, then entered the attic bathroom. When she got there, she noticed an enormous bulge in the shower curtain. Two pairs of shoes stuck out of it. She nearly busted a gut laughing. “I can’t believe they think they’re hidden.”
After she wiped tears of mirth from her eyes, she uncovered her cousins. “How’d you know we were here,” Nicky wanted to know.
“I just knew. Come on. Let’s play another of your new games,” Michelle suggested.
“No, we’ve played with all of ‘em,” Alex spoke in a bored voice.
“This is nuts. I’ve given them enough ideas. One should work.” She decided it was time to call Stephanie and have her sister relieve her. “I probably should have done that before now. But, I’ve proven my point. I can be responsible like an adult.”
“Did you eat any at the Griffith’s,” Michelle wanted to know.
Alex asked “did we eat any what?”
“Food, silly.”
“No,” Nicky remarked. “We only wanted snacks and she knew we couldn’t have any.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were hungry,” came the girl’s slightly annoyed comment.
“You didn’t ask,” Alex asserted.
“Well, I’m going to fix you each a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. How does that sound?” The twins said it sounded good. They followed her to the kitchen.
Michelle made the sandwiches while speaking. “You eat, while I make phone calls.”
Michelle tried Stephanie at Darcy’s. She learned that they’d gone to Sara Pfister’s. She phoned the Pfisters, but learned the girls had gone to the mall with Sara’s older brother Luke. They had left before Michelle came home.
Michelle requested that Stephanie call home the moment she got back. “I won’t let anyone know I’m alone unless I have to. That’s what Dad always said.”
She could have told the lady. Michelle and her family knew the Pfisters well. Stephanie and Sara took ballet together. When they made it, her family saw the Pfisters in church. Still, Michelle didn’t want to tell her anything. Besides, things were going well.
“I can handle this, I just need some ideas. There’s more to this than I thought.”
Her next phone call was to Joey’s motel room. “Uncle Joey,” she remarked once he picked up the receiver. “It’s me, Michelle.”
“Michelle, you timed that perfectly. I just brought in the last of my luggage. The puppets are jabbering like crazy.” She chuckled as the comedian impersonated a bunch of voices. All the voices babbled at once. He then pretended to ask his puppets for quiet.
“I wish you’d left a few puppets here; we could use them.” She explained what had happened. She admitted that she’d run out of things to do. “Joey’s a pro. He’ll definitely know on how to entertain two four-year-olds.”
“Michelle, you’re doing what I’ve done many times when I’ve had problems. You’re trying too hard,” Joey said.
“Too hard? Really?” Her dad had said it was harder than it looked. Of course, maybe he was only talking about real problems. None of those would occur here.
“You bet. See, when I got into comedy, I had lots of trouble. But, then I turned to what came naturally. And, the most natural comedians are kids. You have imagination.”
He paused. Michelle pondered his words. “That’s true. But, how do I use that?”
“A lot of times I just have a small outline. I let my mind go naturally. Trying to plan everything is sometimes the worst thing. Nicky and Alex need structure. They need boundaries. But they also need to just be silly sometimes. Like the hide and seek. You might not like to play like that. But, you can turn what they’re doing into something funny. Make it a joke.”
Michelle smiled. “He’s right. I am trying too hard to think of things. It wouldn’t hurt to just make up a game. And, maybe we could make up a game and tape it.”
“Hey, thanks a lot, Uncle Joey,” she said as she turned around. Nicky and Alex had disappeared. “They ate awfully fast.” “I knew I could count on you.”
“Anytime. I gotta get to the studio now, but call Stephanie. She’ll come soon.”
Michelle thanked him again, then hung up the phone. She’d tried to be too much like a mom. However, she knew nothing about what having a mother was like, let alone being one. For all she knew, moms created fun just like Joey suggested.
Michelle jogged into the living room. She saw her cousins. “You guys sure did eat fast. You must have been really hungry.”
Michelle grabbed the video camera and a blank tape from the cabinet by the TV. “Why do they look guilty”, she wondered. She stared at the twins for a second.
Nicky said “you hafta press eject. It should come out easy.”
Her eyes narrowed. She didn’t like the sound of that. However, she didn’t want to suspect them of being naughty too quickly. “Oh. Is there a tape in here,” she asked casually.
The girl pressed the button. Instead of a tape, many gooey, sticky, brown and red blobs emerged. “Ewwww, gross, what in the...” She was afraid to touch them for a moment. Then, she realized what the substance was. It was the remainder of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Chapter 4

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