The Scenario: Two kids, playing loudly. No one is hurt. Yet.
Action: Move the laundry basket and/or laptop a little closer to the scene of the imminent crime. Suggest a quieter/gentler activity. Remind the participants of house rules and those pesky ol' boundaries of personal space. You don't want to make anyone paranoid but stay nearby in case someone gets whaled on the head by an end table.
The Scenario: Two kids, playing nicely and quietly- but not too quietly.
Action: Check the hall closet for unicorns, because something magical is going down. Otherwise, enjoy it. No further action required. Ask yourself if you've peed that day; if not, now would be an absolutely perfect opportunity.
The Scenario: Two kids, playing in complete silence.
Action: No need for an outright sprint, but a decent canter would work. Now, I'm not saying that they're dousing each other in baby powder . . . but I'm also not saying that they're not.
The Scenario: Two kids, laughing softly at a shared experience.
Action: Similar to the second scenario, but poke your head in every few minutes. Because angelic laughter can turn terrifying in the time it takes to say, "Has anyone seen the cat?"
The Scenario: Two kids, laughing demonically.
The Action: Walk briskly towards the sound of your sweet peas' alarming mirth. That end table is about to be worn as a hat.
The Scenario: Two kids, crying for no reason.
Action: Tread carefully, and gauge the heck out of that cry. Is it a 'disembodied limb' cry? Or the whiny cry of "I'm not getting my way/me neither?" Step in if it's the former, sit back down if it's the latter and encourage them to work it out. You know what's worse than a potential concussion? Crybabies and tattletales.
The Scenario: One kid crying, one kid laughing demonically.
Action: RUN. Nothing good has ever come of this combo. Check the crier, check the end table…and for the love of God, check the cat.
Keely Flynn is a Chicago playwright, freelance writer, and blogger living with three young children, an extraordinarily tolerant husband, and two cats who just try to make it through the day without being ridden like ponies. Check out her personal blog, lollygagblog.com.
See more of Keely's stories here.