Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

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Weekend wonders      These Montgomery moppets fill our arms as well as our hearts …

“I like driving with you, Blackie,” says Brianna.

At 10, she is the oldest daughter of good friends Travis and Carol Montgomery, who dropped off their four girls at our home Friday night.

And walked away laughing, reminds Screen Five. Is that in relief?

“But I don’t like driving with Aunt Erika,” Bri continues, shaking her head. “Aunt Erika is a terrible driver. She runs into all kinds of things.”

“Like what?” I ask, laughing. “With her car?”

“Like a house. On a motorcycle.” Brianna rolls her eyes. “Last week, she ran into her house trying to ride a motorcycle.” Shoulder shrug. “Seriously, who does that?”

This, says Three, gleefully rubbing his hands, is going to be a great weekend.

Screen Four agrees. The girls are growing up. They no longer simply experience events. They record and re-tell the stories they witness.

I look down at my orange fingernails. Six whispers, Better get the jump on questions about your manliness. “Why do you suppose my hands look the way they do?”

“Well,” says matter-of-fact Abigail, eight, “you like orange.”

“Yes, I do, but I helped your Aunt Laura color her hair and didn’t put on the plastic gloves.”

Wild animal Abigail“That’s OK,” Abby soothes. “Dad let me paint his fingernails.” She pauses, then corrects her account. “Actually, I just went ahead and did it when he fell asleep on the couch.”

Do not turn your back on these plotters, warns Six.

Feeling the need to teach a life lesson –

Nice re-direction, Boss! applauds Four.

– I show the girls a compelling Facebook video about two lonely high school teens struggling to communicate with others. At the end, I ask all youngsters to explain what they just saw.

Brianna gives a brief but insightful description of the problems arising from misunderstandings. I commend her and turn to Abigail, who says, “Don’t have a clue. Can we go to the zoo now?”

Not even Toledo Zoo’s new nationally acclaimed aquarium deters the girls from their real desire, expressed loudly to me: “Chase us around the kids’ Discovery Zone.”

Abigail suddenly gains the ability to explain a problem I hadn’t even recognized. “Don’t be sad when you can’t catch us, Uncle Blackie. Remember, you are old and slow and fat.”

Exhausting hours later, faces painted and legs dragging, we’re home and it’s time to wind down. “Girls,” my beautiful brown-eyed bride directs, “put on pj’s while I make popcorn, then we’ll watch a movie.”

Hoping to accelerate the popcorn production, McKenzie, six, changes like lightning, even setting up a bed for her stick pony. She insists upon gaining my approval of the arrangement, so I walk in, gauge the layout and tell her the bed is perfect.

Then I see Eowyn, three, in the middle of the living room, standing alone and looking forlorn. “Mom not pack my pj’s.”

Eowyn facepaintsMiss Laura and I exchange looks. Eowyn is a Master Unpacker. She waits until just before it’s time for her mom to load the van and come our way. While her mother is distracted, Eowyn removes everything and re-packs the small suitcase with items she wants.

Halfway through the movie, we realize it is 9:45pm, the latest night we’ve allowed the quartet. “To bed, to bed,” I chant. “Big day tomorrow at Toledo Zoo. You need your sleep.”

“And don’t wake me,” growls Brianna, aiming threatening looks at her younger, smaller sisters. “Wake me and I’ll be really grumpy.” The sibs shiver.

Do not poke the bear, cautions Screen Two.

All four females sleep through the entire night and late into the next morn. Concerned, I stroll in to check on them. Dead and dying are strewn about on couches, hassocks and floor. “Breakfast,” I quietly say, and zombies speedily fill the kitchen table.

I allow each to choose a cereal. We have six varieties. But one gal is not voting because “my lips are hard.” She put on sparkling pink lip gloss and glitter, explains Three.

The famed plagues of Egypt? Those locusts have nothing on these little ladies. I wash dish after dish as they blow through granola, grapes, nuts and yogurt. They need more honey. Can they have a third bowl? Are raisins still available? Is a second orange OK?

Yet a couple of hours later at the Toledo Zoo, marvels Six, three of them moan about dire hunger. Even as we leave the zoo, youngest Eowyn offers this much-needed information: “I yike pizza. I know where you buy some.” We get ice cream instead and are hailed as heroes.

Rested mom returns Sunday morn to pick up four excited little moppets. She thanks us, loads the van with bags and babes, turns to wave …

And sees us walk away. Laughing.


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Postscript: “May we play in the basement?” four angels ask, so I send them down for dress-up play and fashion shows. When I join them minutes later, Eowyn toddles up with a toy cellphone.

“Send to Mom,” she says, holds the phone aloft, smiles … and mimics a selfie.

Chicly garbed Kenzie follows the orders of mermaid queen Abigail. I watch their exchanges until Brianna offers me a piece of gum. Pulling the aluminum extending beyond the pack, I dance in surprise as low-voltage electricity invades me. “Yeow!” I exclaim. “What was that?”

Laughter makes explaining difficult, but words finally roll off a tongue. “You found it on your morning walk, Uncle Blackie. Sure gives a shock!”

“I really did jump,” I admit. We smile, wink and whisper, “Gotta show Aunt Laura.”

* * * * *

Last week I feared swimming with sharks, but this week ….

Still, could be worse. Could be living in Florida