Thursday, September 18, 2008

Survivor Grandma

I am relating very well to the reality TV show Survivor Man this week. I am caring for my three grandsons while my daughter and her husband are away on business. For those of you that have never seen the show "Survivor Man" it is about a man who is dropped off in a remote area to live among wild animals and extreme elements to survive on his own for a number of days. He may be left with a few items to help in his survival such as a knife, one or two matches, and maybe something like a small piece of plastic tubing. He is left to his own resourcefulness to survive until he is rescued at the end of his time.

I began my own challenge of survival on Monday morning. The territory was my 4200 s.f. home and the one acre of land that I live on. I was left with a few survival provisions such as diapers, baby wipes, a sippy cup, school uniforms, Tonka trucks, and a few snacks. 

My challenge was to survive until Friday morning with three very active, and seemingly starving  little boys ages two, five, and seven.

Day one: On the first day the conditions were quite favorable with the 2 year old and myself home alone. At about 3:30 p.m. a big yellow roar approached the edge of our territory and dropped off two more survivalists. The elements quickly changed as shoes and backpacks where dumped in the entryway and the forage for food began. After a twenty minute feeding frenzy we moved on to homework. The evening routine of a hot meal, outdoor playtime, showers, and bedtimes were executed perfectly in an effort to reserve my energy.  I know that the only guarantee in a survival situation is that nothing is guaranteed. Because of this, It was vital to get myself to bed as quickly as possible. Fatigue is an enemy to survival and a good nights sleep was not guaranteed.

Day two:  This day began at 1:30 a.m. when the little one woke up and was ready to start his day with grandma. He and I  hung out in front of the TV and watched recordings of Signing Time, Barney, and Clifford. The rest of the group awoke at sun up and began the chore of food procurement. They found a box of Lucky Charms in the provisions. They were as happy as squirrells in an acorn tree with their find. After filling their bellies they got dressed for the day. I then unexpectedly encountered hostile territory when it was time to brush teeth. The oldest survivalist protested: "I just brushed my teeth last night! I hate having braces, before braces I only had to brush my teeth like every 5 days, now I have to brush them 2 times a day!" My skills were being tested. I quickly reacted with a skill that I had acquired years before. I went into a well rehearsed speech of the consequences of not brushing your teeth after eating such things as Lucky Charms. When I was finished I think he may have thought his teeth would be rotting and falling out before he got home from school that day. It worked like a charm!

I was very anxious this morning to hear the big yellow roar approaching our territory. I equipped the boys with backpacks & water bottles and sent them on their way. I was ready to retreat to my cozy king size bed for at least a short nap but the little guy was still going strong. He finally took a 45 minute nap at noon and I too fell quickly asleep.  The nap was way too short and my energy level was low. Extreme elements of change would be rolling in again in just over two hours. I needed to boost my energy. The little one and I secured a bowl of "fishies" to share. He had a cup of juice, and I an extra tall glass of diet Coke.

At 3:30 p.m. the afternoon survival mode began again with the foraging for after school snacks, homework, and outdoor play. We finished up the evening with a home cooked meal, a hot shower, and bed time. The little guy was still awake at 10:30 p.m. and I was exhausted with only getting 2 hours of sleep the night before. When it comes to survival, adaptation is the name of the game. I decided to use a survival technique that had worked for me years, and years before. I put him in his car seat and we went for a late night ride. He was asleep by the time I went around the block. Everyone was finally asleep and I treated myself to a hot shower and retreated to the comfort of my bed.

Day 3: Morning came way too soon. It was sun up and the boys were ready to start their day. My survival skills had really kicked in when I reached for a box of Little Debbie Honey Buns as the main course for breakfast. Before their Papa left for work I arranged for him to bring home pizza for dinner.  The morning routine went smoothly and the boys left for their school day. I had really honed in on my survival skills when I moved the  after school feeding frenzy to the back porch so there was no kitchen floor needing to be swept again. I promised them invention crafts as a reward if they stayed focused on their homework and got it done quickly. Papa arrived with the pizza just as hunger was setting in. Dinner clean up was a breeze. The boys spent the evening outdoors playing in the dirt with their Tonka Trucks. Bath time was "Cowboy Style". I filled a Rubbermaid tub with hose water, brought out their bath towels, and soap and they bathed outdoors on our back patio. Squeaky clean in minutes and no bathroom floor to mop. We had a quick bedtime snack, a little TV, and I put the bigger boys to bed. I know we can strengthen ourselves through repeated failures but remember I was performing at maximum survival efficiency this day. I had the little guy in his car seat and off on our bedtime ride just after 8:00 p.m.. It was only 8:30 when everyone was in bed. I was feeling much like Survivorman must feel upon finding a whole nest of scorpions ready for the roasting!

Day 4:  We were all in the "survivor zone" this morning. The boys snacked on Goldfish crackers and milk for breakfast. (They do have a nutritious breakfast upon arrival at school.) The morning routine went without a hitch. They had so much fun with their "Cowboy Style" bath the night before that I promised them that we'll do the same tonight. I had had a good nights sleep, the provisions were holding out, we hadn't had any injuries, we hadn't encountered anymore hostile areas, and there wouldn't be any homework tonight since there was no school the next day.  I only had to navigate through the next 24 hours and my survival challenge would be a complete success. 

The little one finally caught up on his sleep with a three hour afternoon nap. Survivorman would have probably used that time to get some rest. I used it to prep dinner and had it oven ready, caught up on the  laundry, and picked up the toys that were littering the entire territory.

It was 3:30 before I knew it and the door flew open with excitement to get the next segment of their day going. Knowing that the most important survival tool is the mind and the attitude it takes, I embraced their excitement.  We celebrated their last afternoon with me eating ice cream sundaes and all of the hot fudge and whipped cream they wanted. 

The evening went well as we followed our usual routine. The "Cowboy Style" bath was just as popular as it was the first night. I did encounter a bit of hostility when I imposed the regular bedtime since there was no school the next day. Without incident, I stuck to the bedtime and promised a fun filled morning when we were all rested again. 

I realized something on my third nightly attempt to cruise the neighborhood to get the little one to sleep. He was on to me. I learned first hand that traps are most effective if they're set some distance apart. Once  a trigger is tripped, then everyone and everything is on alert. This little two year old was on mega alert. I aborted my first attempt after the little chatterbox wore me down. We went back home and watched some quiet TV. A later attempt at 10:30 ended in success.

Day 5: Our fun filled morning after we were all "well rested"  began at 5:45 a.m.. Mommy and Daddy had returned home sometime during the night and my rescue was scheduled for sometime during the early a.m. hours. I packed up all of the boys provisions and had them ready for the pick up. They were very happy to see their mommy with an 8:00 a.m. reunion. The first story told to mommy was about the "Cowboy Style" baths. 

It is always my goal to make fun memories for my grandchildren.  For these three little dirt loving boys I think I accidently scored BIG with the "Cowboy Style" bath!

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