From time to time I am surprised at how deep parental instincts go. I am not speaking of maternal instincts, nor feminine insight. I mean that parental discernment that somehow crosses the genders; the ability to know when a child lies, that sense when you know someone is missing, and the judgment to not kick at the small warm lump at the foot of the bed. So, when I shifted in my sleep and my foot touched a warm body, something told me it was not a pile of blankets.
I received a voicemail from Wife. “Do you know what your daughter did?”
Have you ever noticed that when a child does something wrong, the child ceases to belong to the mother?
Over Saturday, Wife and I carried out whispered conversations with each other. Our subject was the terrorist attacks in Paris. The aim of our conversation was how to tell the children. They had already heard something about the attacks, so we needed to talk to them soon. These events of absolute evil are always best coming from their parents, even though we feel like we are leading them across quicksand.
What do we do with our children on a trip?
For the first time, EVER, we took a cruise. Yes, on a boat! We sailed off, into the sunset, away from the problems of the world. We were as careless as a crow playing in the wind. No cellphones, no work, and no children. Well, almost no children.
While within my crowd of children, I thought back to how I got in this mess. Looking back, it seemed like such a long path, but it went by so quickly. It must have been on the downward side of the mountain. I went through the archives and thought this one was a good reminder. I hope you enjoy.
Throughout the years of our marriage, Wife and I have heard countless people comment on how hard it must be to raise so many children. Their expressions vary. In some faces, I have seen a fearful expression as if we slept in a bed of snakes, and added to the number all the time. While others seem to look on us as if we ran some kind of prison camp. There are plenty of folks who encourage us. But whether pro or con, terror or pity, nine times out of ten, our family is met with a gasp.
So, I thought I may explain how ended up with all these children. Perhaps those in the gasping crowd might gleam some understanding. And those who already sympathize, might enjoy the read.
Ready? Here we go.
As I see it, with one child I could conceive the ease of the task. After all, the parents have a two to one ratio with the child. We had the upper hand. It was also possible to gang-up on the child.
With two children, the odds were even, but we still had a fighting chance. I could take the first while Wife took the second. Or at the very least, their mother could keep a hold of both children at the same time.
Three was the hardest. For the first time we found ourselves outnumbered. If the children scattered, one could always get away clean. I found it not unlike squeezing putty in my fist, the tighter I squeezed, the more splooged from between my fingers. And worse, the children were too young to entertain themselves, or more importantly, each other!
But the fourth child, oh the fourth is the cruise baby. At baby number four, our first child had become old enough to be a big help with the other two children. Momma finally got her little helper. #1 quickly went from go-for (go for a diaper, go for a blanket, go for your sister) to a real honest-to-goodness holder (hold the diaper bag, hold the purse, hold the baby) and she would accomplish her tasks with real, enviable zeal.
From then on, the rest of the children were gravy. Everyone does their share to help, and with children, the rule truly is “to each according to their abilities.” For example, the other night I watched the children while Wife went to a baby shower. When she drove into the driveway, #3 spotted her first and alerted the rest of us. Immediately #4 joined #3 at the window, aggressively watching their mother park the van. #2 did not move from her spot on the couch watching the movie. #5 and #6 were suspiciously missing. In the meantime, before Wife could open the front door, #1 completely cleared off the dining table. See, “to each according to their abilities.”
I hope this has cleared the air now.
And for those who teeter on the edge of insanity with three children, and can’t take any more, I offer my unsolicited advice. Take the plunge, the water is not as cold as you think… or maybe you just get used to it. Either way, I give you permission. Have yourself a fourth, have your cruise baby, and above all… enjoy!
With summer quickly approaching a close, the heat shows no sign of abating. And now, September is sure to be as hot as August. With the weather so warm, our reptile population has been out in force. Lizards and snakes have made themselves quite at home in our back-country.
They reminded me of this little adventure I had with the children a couple of years ago.
We Think We Heard a SNAKE!
While the children played outside, I enjoyed some quiet work while Wife was gone at a church engagement. I had the house all to myself, to blog and write without interruption. It was too good to last.
In little time, the five children at play came rushing into the front room like a herd of buffalo. In the lead rushed trusty #1 completely out of breath. The mob erupted into a torrent of explanations. After many minutes of incoherent noise, #1 finally shouted louder than the rest, “We heard a snake!”
“OK,” I said. “Show me where.”
They led the way with #1 at the lead. “It’s over here, under the tin,” she shouted over her shoulder.
I proceeded without any delusions. After all, there are beetles in the brush that make a sound similar to a rattlesnake. They only heard the rattle once. It stood to reason that nothing more dangerous than a red-ant hid beneath the tin. Therefore, I was quite confidant to walk out that Saturday morning in my slippers.
Soon I stood before the old metal shed that had been burned down into a heap, many years ago. The children pointed to the scrap tin and verified that they heard the rattle from underneath.
“OK guys,” I said, “calm down. It was probably just a bug.” I then proceeded to prove my point by boldly marching into the rusted metal. “Looks like the snake left.” Stomp, stomp, stomp. “Nothing here.” Stomp, stomp, stomp. “I think we’re good.” Stomp, stomp, stomp; rattle, rattle, rattle.
All eyes turn with one mind to the spot where the sound came from. Under a sheet of tin, directly in front of me, the muffled sound of a rattlesnake’s rattle sounded clear. And there I was, standing almost on top of it, armed only with my slippers.
“OK everyone, back to the house.” A quick retreat ensued, in which #5 was nearly left to fend for himself. Lucky for him I was taking the rear and simply scooped him up under one arm with him screaming, “NOOOOOO!” the whole way.
Once I got the children out of potential harm, I pulled on my boots and armed myself with a shovel, the rattlesnake’s nemesis. I went back to the old shed with all the confidence of Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. And like the famous gun fight, the villains lay dead and I stood triumphant. Returning with a headless snake, I decided it was time for the children’s science lesson.
Practical science I call it. I skinned and gutted the reptile while twelve little eyes looked on with intense interest. We examined the skin, and I explained how I was going to preserve it. We examined the rattles, and the top three girls argued over who would get them. We examined the intestines, and saw that the rattler’s last meal was a kangaroo rat. Then to top off the children’s experience, I fried up the rattlesnake and we ate it for lunch.
I do believe that I make a very good teacher.
I can easily state that any summer afternoon I walk out the front door, I will find two or three of our children busily at play. They might ride their bikes. They may have set up house in their fort. Or some combination of tag and obstacle course. What we do not see most afternoons is #7 and #8 pushing the pink scooter over the side of the hill.
So I thought I would pop in and reminisce about the time I got REALLY frustrated after a long shopping day with all the kids. It is good to look back and remember to be patient with people you seem condescending about our choice of life…. After all they have not a clue the joy and beauty we have in our children.
Here is John’s post.
My dear readers,
I am excited to announce a couple of projects I am working on.
First, I am writing and collaborating a second children’s book on angels. I hope to have it finished and available by the end of the year.
Second, I have been writing a full novel for some time now, and I am finally close to finishing it. I hope to have it done early next year.
I bring this up now because I have a limited amount of time to write in, and I need to focus writing for the next two months on these books. I will still post articles when I can, but for the time being, you will see more articles pulled up from my archives.
So, for those of you who have been reading from my humble beginning, here is a nice nod to the past. And for those who have only just joined my readership, here is my first post, one you may have missed. Continue reading