Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What a day! Yesterday I had my neighbor/friend's children over here from 6 to 3. I have watched these particular children a couple of times before, and I must say that they are a joy to have around. But there's always some kind of drama that happens. You know, the neighbor's 3 year old gets eaten alive by fire ants in the front yard (gee, wouldn't it be nice to be married to an exterminator...oh, wait....I am). She swells up, I call her mom for permission to administer Benadryl and find out that her daddy has a history of anaphylaxis. Gulp. But she ends up being fine.
Later, my nearly 2 year old throws up because the two 3 year olds have been spinning him around and around in the Johnny Jump-up. This directly coincides with the tomato soup reaching a boil and having alphabet pasta added to it, which MUST be stirred to keep from scorching. So I yell for my 10 year old to stir the pot while I extricate my slimy baby from the disgusting jumpy thing. I almost have him out when the 10 year old starts dancing around screaming like a banshee. The rather large tell-tale spot of tomato soup on the floor makes it easy to deduce the cause of this spastic behavior. I holler at him to run cold water over his arm. The 3 year olds come running to see what all the commotion is and nearly run right into the piles of vomit all over the floor. I start screaming (okay, so I lost control a bit...) for them to go back, and the 6, 7, and 8 year olds come running to investigate. This is where I feel like waving my arms in the air and shouting "I surrender!" But the good news is: the baby was fine, the vomit got cleaned up and everything was sanitized, the soup didn't burn, my son's burn was so horrible that you couldn't even see a red spot 10 minutes later, and my blood pressure soon stabilized. The neighbor did come back to get her kids, and they were all in one piece. She was so grateful.

Oh, and don't even get me started on the part where I realized that the cat's whole face was swollen from an abscess which I had to clean and drain with 8 children hovering over us like a football huddle. For now I'm thankful that his previous owners cruelly had him declawed.

It seems like I'm always taking on more children: my neighbors' kids, my friends' kids...I just love'm all. Two weeks ago I kept one neighbor's children (3 of them) from 8 am to 1 pm every day, and added another neighbor's kids (the same 3 I watched yesterday) from 6 am to 3 pm. Let's see, if we do the math, that's 11 children ages 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 3, 1, and the baby that's not even 1 yet. The whole thing actually went quite smoothly, and I was able to give myself a big pat on the back for managing to stay sane and even enjoy it. I wanted 12 for myself ya know?

Okay, now don't go letting your eyeballs bug out. It's not that bad. People always tell me, "I don't know how you do it. I have more than I can handle with just my two (or one...I actually hear that one more, and I have a theory on that but we'll save it for another post)." But honestly, though I can't say the work load is easier with five than with one or two, it's just different. First of all, the older kids get old enough to help out with what needs to get done. My 10 year old son can do the laundry all the way from separating and washing to folding and putting away. I taught him this because he was interested, and I have encouraged his early willingness to help by emphasizing that it is fulfilling to be of some use to the family. I believe that all our children should learn to see the basic maintenance of the household as a way of growing and maintaining a beautiful character. His learning has trickled down almost effortlessly to the other children. The 8 and 6 year olds can now do every step of the laundry process except start the machines because the switches need to be repaired and it's tough to operate them.

There are many other things that they do to help keep the house running smoothly. This is just an example. But it helps us not to be so overwhelmed while also teaching the children valuable life lessons. It has always been one of my pet peeves to hear of someone graduating college and still being unsure of how to do their own laundry, clean their house, or cook at least basic foods.

Anyway, I thought I might go into some of the other reasons that having so many children is not so very stressful, but I'm kinda going on and on, so perhaps I'll share more another day. I would like to add, though, that my dear friend Valerye has backed me up on this matter. She only has two of her own, but she says that whenever she has watched 2 or 3 or 4 of mine along with hers, things just seem to go better! Too bad she lives nearly an hour away. Otherwise I would feel compelled to make her day go better more often!! ;) Oh, by the way, I had her kids today. :)


Sheila said...

I am so sorry but, I just had to laugh when I read the first part of your blog....it sounds very familiar to some days I have had lately.
I have to agree with what you wrote though having more kids around isn't really that bad.

Thanks for your post it brought (good tears) to my eyes.


Shelley said...

Sheila, I know that you understand how it is. I'm just glad to know that you enjoyed it. After it was all over, I was able to laugh about it too! ;)