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The Young Girls go on vacation

I found some old notes on a column I should have written many years ago, when The Young Girls were 16, 14 and 12. The notes are about a summer when all three were gone at once.

Two cars sat idle in the yard, an abrupt change from having to invent new algebraic algorithms to plot out where cars went: to the dentist for braces; shopping to any town at least a hundred miles away (anything closer wasn't cool); school activities (three girls, nine activities); piano lessons (just exactly why they couldn't all be involved at once still frustrates me mathematically); and underwear shopping (nope, don't know anything about this, except not to raise any objections).

Conversation between my washing machine, The Old Girl, and I had to be reinvented. Three daughter-things always wanted our attention and got it, from the time they were born, by either hollering or throwing up.

The washing machine in the basement ceased complaining for the first time in 16 years. It's as if it asked me of the girls, "Did you pay someone to take them away?" Clearly, we didn't have enough money to make that happen.

Also, while the girls were gone, I found that the quart of milk in the refrigerator seemed to rival the loaves of plenty on the shores of Galilee in that it never went empty. It was a miracle. A quart of milk, once brought into this house, never makes it past breakfast.

I also noticed that a cap was on the toothpaste each evening and morning. Even further, no one finished their art project for school with my toothbrush while I was at work.

Additionally, we received several phone calls while the girls were out. The callers seemed dumbstruck when their call actually went through on the first try. They stuttered and stumbled, as they obviously weren't ready to talk quite then. Callers often had to hang up and call back, after having gotten more prepared.

There were other things that seemed different when The Young Girls were gone. The Old Girl and I never had to wave at each other when we met on the highways and byways of these two counties, as we made our many ferry trips with The Young Girls, transporting them hither and yon to band, track, shopping, school, back from school, back to school, babysitting and so forth.

To add to the noticed changes, the house looked the same when we came home in the evening as it did when we left in the morning. There were no multiple-room monopoly game enduros; no major art projects that became permanent art fixtures; no dirty floors (about which I felt pretty bad; I'd been blaming the dog all this time); and finally, there was a bathroom we could get into.

Finally, we understood why 14, who was more acutely tuned in to relationships, being she was the middle child, was reluctant to leave. We thought it was fear of homesickness, when in fact, she knew what might happen when we rediscovered lives of our own. She knew we might enjoy the The Young Girls' absence just a little too much. Perhaps she thought we'd become addicted to the change and do something crazy, like renting out their rooms.The poor thing. When she comes home, I'm going to reassure her that we would never do such a thing.

Probably. No, really. Is your room clean?