Of Barrels and Monkeys

This year, our Thanksgiving celebration was with my family. We had our normally large outdoor meal with most of my extended relatives. So I am talking about thirty adults and around forty children. In a phrase, it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

And speaking of barrels and monkeys…a barrel of monkeys Continue reading

Learning Curves

When raising children I find that there is a learning curve. With the first two children, we were very similar to most new parents, scared to death that anything and everything would harm, maim, kill, step on, dismember or otherwise be no good for our children. It was not until the fourth or fifth child when we finally realized the near indestructible nature that God built into our children. They believe that they can do anything, which in turn allows them to accomplish most of their bucket-list before their fourth year, provided they are not stopped first. We’ve always had to be on the lookout to stop.

At this very moment, #6 is attempting to move stealthily to dark side of the table. He intends to climb said table… again. The goal of this rather risky maneuver is two-fold: the primary objective is to dump out whatever might be sitting harmlessly and helplessly on the table; the secondary objective is to see how long he can do that until Wife catches on.

This is the level of ingenuity that we are up against. How can anyone wonder that we have to change our strategies from time to time? When #6 did make it onto the table, he was seen quite quickly, not only did he get in trouble, but also the three children who were watching him. In certain cases it’s true, “you are your brother’s keeper.”

And that brings up another point; with this many children, they have learned to use look-outs!

On multiple occasions I have walked into the house only to see a terrified little face swing around to me before darting into whichever room the mischief was taking place in. The child was usually caught off guard because they were busy watching the room that Wife was in. The one fact about look-outs that plays to our favor is that no one wants to be said look-out. It is the argument over who will be the look-out that normally gives the whole scheme away. It is a good thing that our children don’t realize just how loud they are shouting.

Mid Summer Nights

I must say that one of the nicest features about the summer time is the summer nights. I do not mean the summer night-life, or concerts in the park, or bonfires at the beach. I simply like the warm air and the late sunset; those are the perfect conditions to send ALL the children outside after dinner, giving Wife and myself about an hour of relative silence before somebody bothers someone else, or gets hurt; often both.

As the children finish eating they dart out the screen door in ones and twos in the order which they are done. #1 and #2 were the first to exit the house the other night with #2 shouting after her big sister in a near panic, “Wait-up!” #4 was able to bargain with Wife her way out, somehow without finishing her plate. #5 was fixed to the table by Wife’s command that he did have to finish his plate. (In Wife’s defense she dished #4 far more than was given #5.) #6 was wandering under the table, bumping knees and becoming an all around bother of #5. And when Wife and I left the table, #3 walked into the room after us surprisingly quick with a suspiciously empty plate. Suffice it to say, we parents had our quiet and the children had the full run of the outside world. The universe was at peace.

Wife and I set to chatting about the day in the twilight quiet hour. As I washed off the day’s grime she was occupied by the endless task called #7. In the middle of our employment #2 knocked on the bedroom door. As I was in the bathroom I could only hear something about finding a hat and #1 would not give it up… I think… maybe. Here’s a thought, where did the hat come from? Oh dear, I hope they did not find it out in the underbrush! If so, Wife is going to be irritated (lice scare again). But it must not have been so, for Wife shouted from behind the baby changing table, through the door, and into the equally dense head of #2, “GO PLAY NICE!”

All too quickly the sun set completely and I was forced to deal with my children as they staggered into the house. Again another dilemma, #1 threw #2’s toy knife into the dark, and #2 was very quick to remind me, “It’s dark outside!”

“Here’s a flashlight, now all of you go outside and find it. And You! Don’t throw your sister’s toys!” A dejected crew walked outside, except #2 who was quite happy to find her knife and hold the flashlight.

Then I looked for the missing boys. #6 was easy to find, just follow the screams. And there he was yelling about something that would neither hurt him nor give him harm in any way. I left him alone. #5 was asleep at the table, meal still unfinished. I left him where he was as well. They would all be going to bed soon anyway.

Once the children were brushed and cleaned, they began to file into me for a ‘good-night.’ As I hugged #2 I was startled. The night-shirt she was wearing looked fine from the front, however the entire back of the garment was completely and permanently gone like some weird magician’s trick.

The little girl held the back of her impromptu medical gown closed as she scampered away. I turned to Wife with a question, “Her favorite shirt?”

Caught at Play

#5, the two year-old, has the best imagination. He can get caught up in all kinds of invisible games and stories; shunning reality for whatever he sees hidden within his mind’s eye. He can make a toy out of most anything at hand, and he babbles his little game aloud unaware that the entire world can hear him.

The other day while the family was driving to church, Wife turned and noticed him. The boy had unclipped his clip-on tie and was in the middle of an animated conversation with it. He was using the clip as a jaw, we assume, and the two of them were babbling along quite happily; until he realized that he had been caught.

Once he felt that creepy sensation that someone outside of his circle was spying on him, he came back to reality and set about looking for that intruder. He found his mother watching with a broad smile of amusement. Well, he could not have people spying on his invisible land of imagination. He closed that door. His hands settled into his lap and a scowl covered his little face. With his eyebrows nearly touching the tip of his nose, he turned his head down so that he could secretly watch his mother to see when she turned away. And like clockwork, when Wife stopped observing the child’s play, #5 resumed his game with the clip-on tie.

There are two points that the little boy fails to realize. First is that there are other people around. The second is that he is playing aloud. Nobody sees you if you are still and quiet. But on the other hand, if he is running in circles, with a horse and knight in one hand, and a naked Barbie in the other, screaming incoherent jargon at the top of his lungs, somebody is going to notice. And when he sees that he has been caught, like a dog, he will slink away to some place where he believes himself to be alone to start the game up again.

Watching #5 reminds me of when I was small, imagining that rocks were cars and sticks were spaceships. Of course I never cocked an attitude when I found someone watching me. Now that I think, I do not remember anyone watching me. What a minute, who was watching me when I played?