7QT: Summer of the Street Urchins


The 7 Quick Takes today are hosted at an alternate site while the usual hostess is on vacation, so THANK YOU to Kathryn at Team Whitaker for stepping in as a substitute!

Little Brother, age 12, has a pack of friends whom I have nicknamed The Street Urchins. Middle Sister thinks that’s mean, but I just call ’em like I see ’em. There are four Street Urchins on this block. Three of them live in divided households (one lives with his grandparents, so he splits things three ways). The fourth’s parents own a restaurant, so he seems to be left to his own devices as often as the others, who could be here for several hours, spanning two mealtimes, without any adult looking for them.

I don’t mind if the Street Urchins play at my house or swim in my pool, but I do insist on some house rules, and yesterday things got pretty rocky in that department, and I told them all to go outside or go home. I might have raised my voice. (Sorry, not sorry.)

I don’t put up with their nonsense because I don’t want these guys, in 4 years, to be the ones binge-drinking at someone’s house party and destroying property/mistreating others. Looking into those faces yesterday, I could see where this could happen. I’m not their parent, but if they’re at my house, they’re playing by my rules.

Without further ado, here are the 7 things I expect from visiting Street Urchins.


RESPECT THE ADULTS. Say hello when you arrive and goodbye when you leave. I deserve to know who is in my house/yard/pool. If I provided a snack or a meal, thank me for that. Don’t rant because the pizza isn’t from your preferred source.


RESPECT THE OTHER KIDS. You are too old to tattle-tale over nothing, and that’s not a nice way to treat your friends.


RESPECT MY HOME. Don’t throw things in the house. (That goes double for the pieces of the remote control that you tossed behind the couch.) Put away what you take out. My pantry is not your pantry.


RESPECT MY TIME. You live on this block. If you want to swim in my pool, bring your own towel. I am not your laundress.


RESPECT MY HOSPITALITY. If you want a snack, ask. If you have a snack, clean up your mess.


RESPECT YOUR OWN GROWNUPS. If they call here or show up here and tell you it’s time to leave, do not make them wait until you play one more round of a video game.


RESPECT MY POOL. Have fun but swim safely. Don’t climb on the sides. Check in with me before you swim and before you leave.

Sometimes it does take a village to raise a child, when that child’s own personal adults don’t take responsibility. These children are in my village, and when they play here, they’ll play by the same rules my own kids must follow.

7 Quick Takes: Last Chance to Win a Free Book Edition

— 1 —

Want to win a FREE book? Of course you do! You’ve got until tonight at midnight to put your name in the hat to win a copy of Small Steps for Catholic Moms by Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss.

— 2 —

In my latest Tech Talk at CatholicMom.com, I highlight an app that has been really helpful to me. I really relate to the Grinch, when he is bothered by the Noise! Noise! NOISE! NOISE!!! But since all the noise doesn’t seem to bother anyone else around here, I had to find a workaround.

— 3 —

Number of times I’ve gone to the gym in my lifetime before Sunday:  0.

Number of times this week I’ve gone to the gym:  3.

Hubs, Middle Sister and I all joined the gym around the corner. I want to gradually drop that baby weight, plus the after-baby weight, since the baby is now 11 years old. Surprisingly, I don’t hate it. I just use the treadmill for about 30 minutes. I’d thought I would listen to podcasts while I work out, but the music in the gym is too loud (see Noise! Noise! NOISE! NOISE!!! above) so I just watch the news on the big TVs.

One disconcerting thing, a couple of days this week, was walking in to the gym at 5:30 AM and finding a child, about Little Brother’s age or so, wandering around the reception area all alone. I’m guessing his grownup was working out someplace in the gym. It was kind of sad. 5:30 in the morning, and this kid has obviously been there for a little while; he’s fully dressed, looks wide awake and is just meandering around among the machines and tables and chairs. And it must be nothing new because no one else in the place seemed to bat an eye at seeing a kid there that early in the day. Our gym does offer child care, but not at that hour.

— 4 —

I’m still coughing my head off after last week’s sinus infection, but I no longer sound like Bea Arthur. I’m a baritone now.

— 5 —

It’s time to do one of my Very Favorite Things! We’ve started rehearsing for the Festival of Lessons & Carols, an Advent musical program that’s held at a local Catholic church just before Christmas each year. This is my third year participating; I play guitar (for the songs that require it) and sing, from the instrument section, with the altos. I also marvel at the incredible musical talent that my friend, who directs this program, manages to assemble every year. I love singing and playing with musicians of this caliber. It makes me stretch!

— 6 —

Little Brother has started rehearsing for a Christmas play; he’s in the local community theater’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. He plays Charlie Bradley, who is directly to blame for the “feral” family’s participation in the Christmas pageant. Basically, he has been cast opposite a bunch of kids who are playing Street Urchins. Art imitates life, I guess.

— 7 —

College tours with Middle Sister continue; next week we’ll be visiting a university right near where I grew up. I think my mom is going to meet us for lunch. Looking forward to that!

BONUS! Big Brother will be home this weekend for “fall break.” We miss him! Now I need to think about what to feed him while he’s here.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!