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 were sleeping in a bed of snakes and adding to the number all the time; while others seem to look on us as if we were running some kind of prison camp. There are plenty of folks who are encouraging though. But whether pro or con, terror or pity, nine times out of ten, our family is met with a gasp.
So I thought I would say something to set the record straight and perhaps more understanding will be gained. Either that or you might call me an outright liar. 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 kid. In that case 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 on the first while Wife took on 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 the parents found ourselves outnumbered. If the children scattered, there was always the possibility that one could 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 was then 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 could accomplish her tasks with real enviable zeal.
From then on the rest of the kids 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 was watching the children while Wife was at a baby shower. When she drove into the driveway, #3 was the first to spot her 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 are teetering 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 have been told, 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.