The kids are gone. Our daughter and son-in-law’s new house is finally finished. What was supposed to be a five-month stay with us turned into six and six turned into seven. Then just like that they were gone and took their three small children with them.

Of all the nerve.

The newfound quiet is like we thought it would be. Deafening.

I miss my morning alarm. I’m often at the computer working by 5am, lost in a time warp until I am jolted by hollow thuds overhead. It sounds like boulders crashing through the ceiling, but it’s only a three-year-old and four-year-old sliding out of bed at 7, tumbling onto the hardwoods.

They traipse downstairs hand-in-hand, still sleepy-eyed, and say, ‘Good morning, Grandma.’ Unless I get the edge on them and hide behind the sofa. They know where I am, but I jump out anyway and they act surprised and scream and I act surprised and scream.

Morning has lost its punch.

I guess I could hide from the better half when he comes downstairs, but it seems a trifle odd at our age. Plus, he’s never been the screaming type.

The house is slowly returning to order. The washer hums, the dryer purrs, the vacuum roars. A lot of singles have been discovered under the beds — gloves, mittens, socks, a snow boot and a ballet slipper.

I also found their sweet library bags, the ones their momma made. They’ll need those soon.

There’s no more stepping over building blocks and magnetic tiles to raise the window coverings. The indoor tent has been put away and the loveseat cushions will remain on the loveseats. Sorta feels like I should jump off the arm of one of the loveseats just for old time’s sake.

It’s an odd sensation walking across the kitchen floor without the crunch of Cheerios under foot. The plastic tablecloths have been put away, along with the markers, crayons and scissors. And the tape. Oh, the tape. Just peeled another two pieces off kitchen chairs. How those girls love tape.

Swing open the doors to the pantry and a whole lot of empty stares right back at me. No more big bags of Veggie Straws and Goldfish, pouches of applesauce or juice drinks in boxes. The fridge looks bare as well. Industrial-size tubs of yogurt are gone, as well as our son-in-law’s favourite condiments — Tabasco, sriracha, horseradish, pickled jalapenos — basically anything that sets your gut on fire.

They’re only a drive away, but we miss the tousled head of curls, the one with amber braids and the baby and her fat little cankles. She’ll probably be walking by the time we see her next. It was good having her in our arms before she could escape.

I found her most treasured pacifier. I’m looking at it, wondering if I should or I shouldn’t.

What kind of Grandma holds a pacifier for ransom until she can see the kids?

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