Yesterday after church, our family went to our somewhat-of-a-tradition Sunday dinner at my parents’ house. The kids “swam” while Grandma finished the lunch preparations. Two of them were even brave enough to take off their arm rings and inner tubes (4 feet of water is truly daunting when you’re 3 feet tall). I tried to help with dinner, but I’m not sure putting baby silverware on the table lightened the load any. I can guess, though.
Anyway, after the scrumptious surf-and-turf lunch which we all eagerly gobbled up (pass the tartar sauce and A-1, please!), my mother offered to watch the children if Ethan and I wanted to get away.
As Ethan stretched and yawned, I shouted (because it’s hard to hear when you’re yawning), “WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO?”
I then yawned through whatever it was he said (too quietly), but I can speculate it had something to do with my parents’ leather reclining sofa. I ignored the speculation and reasoned that he would want to do something with me apart from the children. We opted to take Jonathan as he is one of those lingering nursers that nurses for 3 minutes until falling into a deep sleep from which the only way to awaken him is to set him down. And then the only way to make him stop crying is to nurse him.
And once we got away, we just walked leisurely together. As we strolled, Jonathan fast asleep in the baby sling, a grandmother with her daughter and 9-mo. old grandson stopped me. “Oh, how old?” she asked. I answered that he was almost 2 weeks. “Is this your first?”
“No, this is number six.” She did the obligatory eye pop and then asked how old the children were. When I gave their ages, the oldest being six, she asked in a sort of sugary tone, “Oh, do you homeschool?”
I don’t know who decided that large family means homeschooled. I mean, I won’t even get near a denim jumper, I don’t have to move my hair out of the way before I sit down, and I don’t think two-piece swimsuits are sinful.
But the kids? They are just a dead giveaway. I mean, I didn’t even have to deny being Catholic, Mormon, or married to a Marine first! She jumped right to homeschool!
Anyway, once her suspicion of homeschooling was confirmed, she said, “Oh, I don’t know how you do it. I had five, and I LOVED when the school bus came in the morning!”
Even as she said that, I thought what a nightmare that would be for me. Theological, social, and safety misgivings aside, if I had to load school-aged children onto a bus every morning, I would be losing two of my best helpers. My two oldest are only 6 and 4, but there is A LOT that 6- and 4-year old arms can do. Especially if the only other options are two sets of 3-yr. old arms, a 17-mo. old set, and a 2-week old set. Oh, and a thirty-one year old set.
As providence would have it, today I got to test that theory. My two oldest are off to magical thrills unknown with my two sisters, brother-in-law, and two young nephews, as they go to an amusement park for the first time. And I already miss them terribly! Fortunately, I did get Ben to change the kitty litter (one of his daily chores) before he left, but OY!
I have had to read the same book four times in a row. And it’s not even a Boynton book. It’s a Little Golden Book. One of those weird ‘80’s ones. Normally Ben does this, and he will pick a selection of books. I have been frozen in the corner of the couch with a sleeping/nursing/whatever-it-is-he’s-doing baby.
I had to fold all the clothes that came out of the dryer (fortunately, the 3-yr. olds emptied the dryer for me) and put them away.
I had to empty the dishwasher, get everyone’s drinks, clear the table, soak the dishes, load the dishwasher, play with the twins and Eden, hide Lily’s doll that everyone was fighting over … all while carrying a baby that usually falls asleep on his brother’s lap (the lap of the brother that’s 6. He wants nothing to do with the lap of the 3-yr. old brother). And after naptime, I will have to get Edee out of bed, fix her drink, get drinks for the twins, and think of a fun game. Only mine probably will not involve jumping from the back of a couch to a much-too-small-and-terribly-lumpy couch pillow on the floor.
The one redeeming thing is that when everyone went down for a nap, EVERYONE went down. Meaning I have time to sit here and write this long-winded post (so maybe not so redeeming?). But on the other hand, there is no 4-yr. old to brush and style my hair, whispering, “I love you so much, Mama. Are you so glad I’m your daughter?” and no 6-yr. old to “surprise” me with his daily offering of a glass of chocolate milk.
Why do I have six kids? Because four is just too much work!!!