HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 20, 2007, Herald Journal

Back to school go my gnomes

By JEN BAKKEN

From the date of this issue of the Delano Herald Journal, there will be 15 days until the first day of school. Delano Public Schools will be opening its doors Tuesday, Sept. 4, which means I have approximately 360 hours, or 21,600 minutes until I can send my children off to school again.

Yes, I am happily counting down the days, hours, and even minutes. Should I be ashamed to admit it? Am I the only parent who does that? I’ve had a soon-to-be-senior, fourth grader, and second grader in my home all summer, while I work, and it has been a long summer.

Some days, I’ve walked in the door after work and not been able to recognize my own home. I’ve left in the morning and things seemed okay, but once home, I wondered if a bomb had gone off. I’m not sure how three children can possibly make such a mess, or eat so much food in one short day. I’m thinking it has to be something like this.

It’s morning, and I’m getting ready to leave for work. My children look like sleeping angels to me, but they are actually just being sneaky, lying in their beds, waiting for me to leave. The door closes, I start my car and drive away, while they wait in total silence until completely certain I am gone.

Then, hoots and hollers erupt as they emerge jumping and skipping from their rooms. They begin calling other Delano kids whose parents have left for work, telling them it is safe to come over.

They go from room to room, throughout my whole house, taking things out of cupboards and closets, and tossing them into the air, for no apparent reason, other than their own twisted fun. In my mind, they turn into creatures that look similar to gnomes.

Having practical jokes down to an art form, these short, but speedy beings appear outwardly cute, but leave me feeling anxious about what they are plotting, or whether their eyes are following me or not. Like in a dream, or rather a nightmare, I witness them ransacking my home.

I can hear their wicked laughter as they drink all the juice boxes, and then run all over, dropping empty straw wrappers on the floor.

They know me so well and how much I hate that, those nasty little gnomes!

Next, they each change clothes six times, fill up laundry baskets full of clothes that they wore only a few minutes, that aren’t even dirty. Barely containing their gnome giggles, they anticipate the look on my face when I see what they’ve done, and they clap their hands with pride of a job well done.

Having eaten everything in sight, they shove bags of chips, boxes of cookies and crackers on shelves, empty. Then, they leave the cupboard doors wide open, on purpose, of course.

Dirty dishes are left in strange places; the bathroom, the garage, or by a tree in the far corner of the backyard.

Each child, or rather gnome, walks in the door, dumps sand out of their shoes onto the floor, then puts the shoes back on, wearing them throughout the entire house.

With syrup, butter, and any sticky substance imaginable on their little hands, they merrily and fearlessly go about leaving prints on walls, windows, and mirrors.  Moving to the living room, they place the TV remote in the middle of the floor, stand in a huge circle holding hands and chant three times,“Let us hide the remote from the old goat.”

“Let us hide the remote from the old goat.”

“Let us hide the remote from the old goat.”

They know me so well and how much I hate that, those nasty little gnomes!

Yes, I am happily counting down the days, hours, and even minutes until school begins. Should I be ashamed to admit it? Am I the only parent who does that?

I think I’m developing a fear of gnomes, too.  I passed a house the other day with some in their yard, and they were all looking at me, as if mocking me. They must have been to my house, and if I wasn’t so afraid, I’d demand to know where my TV remote was right now!

Tiny Tales, a column dedicated to children in our community, and the times when they create a wonderful story to tell.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, family member, caregiver, teacher, or anyone with a child in your life, there’s always a tiny tale to tell.  

It may be cute or funny things a child has said or done.  Any of those endearing moments you love to share with others, and people like me, enjoy reading.  

Here in Delano we are proud of our community, our schools and our children, why not have a column about our little ‘tigers’?

You can email your tiny tales to; jbakken@hjpub.com, fax them to 763-972-1029 or mail them to:

Tiny Tales, 430 Hwy 12 E. Suite 4, PO Box 498, Delano, MN  55328.