If you are looking for a place where your children can be moderately unruly and still make people go completely ga-ga over them, I highly recommend your local nursing home.
Today we visited a friend of a friend in her new digs. We went armed with a basket of daisies and two mini pumpkins. We had the two mini pumpkins because they had piles of them at the garden center where I bought the daisies and it was easier to spring the $1.80 than remove them from my children's iron grips. The garden store also had cobblestone paths, so we had to follow Lucy around and around in circles to make sure she hit each path. I remember doing this and so was uncharacteristically patient.
Daisies and pumpkins in hand, we headed to the nursing home. We signed in at the door, where we were given a small card with a series of codes printed on it. The nurse led us to the door of the common room and instructed us that we would have to use one of the codes on the card to get back out. She mentions that Mrs. Crane is sitting on the couch and she'll be delighted to see us.
We go through the door and find ourselves face to face with two ladies on the couch. "Is one of you Mrs. Crane?" I ask. I am sure I've met her before, but for the life of me I can't remember. They both nod and smile. Lucy and Studley give them each a pumpkin and I set the flowers on the coffee table. "Are you Mrs. Crane?" I ask the one closest to me. She smiles. The other one is smiling slightly more, so I ask her the same question. She, too, smiles as if to say "I'm Spartacus!". The ladies do not care who Mrs. Crane is, they have visitors. They are both petting my children, who are not freaking out.
I look around for someone who might know who's who. A lady walks up who looks vaguely familiar. I ask her if she knows who everyone is. She'd like to help, but she's only been there a short time and hasn't learned people's names. And then a nurse walks by and I ask her "excuse me, can you tell me which one is Mrs. Crane?" She points to the lady who looks familiar. Oh, right. I introduce myself properly.
The other two ladies go back to watching Bonanza. Studley begins trying out every chair, especially the ones that rock. "I could just eat him," claims one of the ladies. I check to make sure I still have the card with the exit codes.
Lucy begins shepherding Studley, frequently unsticking him when he wedges himself between chair and table. Everyone in the common room has turned to watch them. They are the Friday afternoon entertainment. Lucy tickles Studley and the room fills with giggles, not all of them Studley's.
We stay until I start to worry about dinner. I ask the kids to say goodbye, and although Lucy is unwilling to murmur a syllable, Studley blurts out "Bye! Craney!"
Mrs. Crane has probably never in her life been called "Craney!". She may well still wear white gloves when she goes out. I am sure her children were extremely well brought up. I am also sure she's hoping Studley does the same thing when we go back next week.
'Cause I'm Mrs. Crane, yes I'm the real Craney
All you other Mrs. Craneys are just imitating
So won't the real Mrs. Craney please stand up,
please stand up, please stand up?