To be fair to the children, they gave as much as they got. Not just waiting to be taken out or entertained, they too turned out to be the entertainers of their own on more than one occasion.
Boss and Yellow Face are fascinated by choreography and singing respectively, so they organized all nine of them into an event tagged The Spectacular Nine Show for the pleasure of the adults, especially their grandmother who continues to be the patron saint and loudest cheerleader of their efforts. The show had a full agenda of about 12 items which included a huge amount of dance, recitals, etc; at least different hostesses/hosts (showing early promise in a compere profession if they decided to go that route) at various points in time, as well as refreshments retrieved from the refrigerator, the deep freezer, the microwave, the store and the oven. Their rigorous rehearsals beforehand kept them busy and drew admiring looks for their focus and discipline. On occasion, Pru found herself practicing with them. Most times it panned out the way they planned; other times, if one of the boys rebelled and the other two followed suit, it became a headache and the adults were drawn into the fray.
Two birthdays at the end of August also provided opportunities to, once again, showcase their fluid moves and tremulous voices with the happy birthday song and other add-ins.
Nevertheless, the bulk of keeping them amused fell on the adults and as the chief hostess, I had to come up with solid, memorable experiences.
They all had skates. First off, the skating rink at the Black Box; open space, colourful environment with matching revolving lights and spirited music as accompaniment. Nine children and two adults? The manager gave us a massive discount, and his trainers and the children had a whale of a time. A pep talk about safety and skating kicked off their time there. Then the wheat and the chaff were separated. Those who couldn’t skate to save their lives. Those who were unsteady but were determined to improve. Those who could move with hands flailing about like excited penguins. And then the PhD holders in the act. Pumpkin was the resident champion, accused severally back home of showing off instead of giving lessons. The Entertainer was a distant second, poised to catch up with her cousin with her devotion to practice. They played games. Raced against one other. Challenged the trainers and sometimes won. Improved greatly on their balance, skills and tricks. Formed a human rope with the trainers and screamed along as they danced and moved in circles. Then there was the naughty corner created by Pru when The American stepped out of line. The two swift slaps she landed on his face (before sending him off on his solo punishment) stunned some of the children into skating far, far away from him because they could join him as well as threatened by their aunt. Beside that little glitch, they all had a rollicking time at the rink. Towards the end of the holiday, we went back there and received a warm welcome from the manager and his trainers. This time, they were no chaffs; all the children could skate well to some extent. All thanks to some dedicated practicing in the house and wearing out the floor boards.
Of the nine children, five of them had never been to the beach; the other four had had their fill, spent at least 10 days and night straight at a beach resort, going to bed to the sound of crashing waves and waking up to the same. So off to one of the beaches located in Epe we went on a sunny, encouraging August day. It didn’t stop all of them from screaming uncontrollably once they stood at the shore as waves tumbled towards them.
For The American, Pumpkin and Baby, there was too much distance between us and the waves. Could we inch closer? Yeah, right!
Smarty Pants endured the motion of the ocean for a bit and retreated. She had neither the heart nor composure to bear it for as long as her cousins did. She watched all the shore drama from a safe beach hut some distance away.
A horse trotted by aided by its rider. Only The American was brave enough to stroke it; others didn’t bother to dare. Its sheer size put the fear of God in them.
The bulk of our time at the beach was spent at the shore, getting royally soaked to our underwear by the rushing waves. With almost every spray we moved closer to the water and dug our feet into wet sand for anchor. To the adults, this reminded us of the force behind a great deal of water moving in the same direction at the same time. To the children, they marvelled at the strength and power water could wield against them. Wasn’t it the same water they used to take a bath, drink gallons of, play with at will? surf
You know, children never get tired; they are prepared to keep at an activity until the Second Coming. So it fell to the adults to regulate and use the period at the beach wisely to everyone’s satisfaction. After an interminable time experiencing the surf, taking countless photos, screaming at tiny and large waves alike coming at us, we pulled back, spent from holding and protecting them, and called it a day. Without protest, the children promptly stripped down to swimming gears and turned their attention to the unoccupied, temptingly blue-green pool on the grounds of the resort.
Two grey-coloured and truly alive crabs, nestled at the bottom, prevented immediate or reckless dipping until they were fished out by the resident life guard. After that, it was more screaming and shouting and splashing and no swimming (because none of them could) for the next hour or so; it gave the adults the opportunity to take a breather and stretch out our legs while keeping an eye on them for any likely mis step. Two more crabs – a fiery red one like Sebastien in The Little Mermaid – and another grey one came to keep us company by the poolside. Some of the children yelled and chased them away laughing.
Another entertainment avenue we explored was Upbeat. We lounged as the children jumped to their hearts content, surprisingly wearing themselves out before the hour timeslot was over. Ahead of that heart-pumping exercise, we swung by the virtual reality area. Pumpkin, The Entertainment, Smarty Pants & T. conquered that space with their screams of excitement as they battle onscreen dinosaurs coming at them. Angel, The American & Baby almost suffered cardiac arrests when in fearful face-to-face encounters with the prehistoric animals; we disconnected them instantly. And prior to this, the three fellas had a go at foosball where, unknown to us, The American was roundly beaten. He joined his mum and I at a table afterwards with an expression like a thundercloud; then we knew something had gone wrong. The American’s angry face is usually adult-sized. You can’t contemplate how a youngster like him can develop such grown up instincts. After the initial novelty of it wore off for me, I began to see his father’s face every time he wound up being upset.
From mindless jumping and climbing and frowning, we moved on to the Go-Kart section; there the readers and non-readers were exposed as staff instructed all the children to familiarize themselves with the rules. Driving the cars also showed the children who thought the act of driving was all about twisting the wheel to its limit and those who manipulated it gently to do their bidding. We finished off the fun experience at the basketball court and the football pitch.
We did the cinema too and saw Toy Story 4. Wasn’t a smooth decision though; some of the children preferred The Lion King instead. Compared to the number voting for Woody and the gang, Simba’s team was outnumbered. Nine children in a packed cinema hall with just two adults? We had the crowd, the cold, the plot of the movie and the mall in general to deal with. It’s one thing to control nine children; it’s a whole different ball game when popcorn and sodas are thrown into the mix. I’m certain at some point in time, Pru & I were suddenly, unwittingly humming under our breaths: Chaos, every bodi run, run, run. Chaos, every bodi scatta, scatta.
But hey, we survived. I mean I am writing about it.