When it was just me, the Sarg and our old soul we were on EASY street. A 2:1 parent/child ratio is a breeze! But, you sort of never really recognize the value of that until it’s gone.
“Honey, I think it’s time to have that baby sister or brother the old soul recently asked for? [pregnant pause] But, you know, I’m ok if you really don’t want another.”
“No! We definitely want another child. Right? TWO is what we ALWAYS talked about!”
“Great! Because I really do want Olivia to have a sibling.”
Some of you have got to be laughing, knowing how this all turned out for us…
Well we’re not on Easy Street anymore! Busy Street! Funny Street! Happy Street! Laughing Out Loud Street! But, definitely not Easy Street! Why? Because we now have 3 children. That SECOND baby turned into a second and THIRD when the egg split.
For years, my sister-in-law would lament the challenges of having 3 (2 of my sisters have 2 each) with time-tested classic examples: it’s 2 against 1 in every argument and there’s always an “odd man out” whatever you do and where ever you go. Rides are always 2-seaters, someone’s got to sit alone in the waaaay back of the mini-van, and then, of course, the obvious… a parent has 2 hands to hold onto 2 kids. Which I’ve now expanded to include a parent has 2 eyes — one to follow each kid; 2 legs — one to chase each kid; and there are 2 parents — one to pin down each kid during diaper time. That SOOOOO doesn’t work with THREE! Especially when 2 of them are a pair of twins which means they share the same developmental age and require equal levels of parental supervision, guidance and protection to keep them safe and alive all while they’re moving at break neck speed in 2 totally different directions. A brief glimpse of my life on Crazy Street!
So we set up your home to accommodate our three children’s safety, learning and development… And, just when we’ve got it down and the kids are happy to stay at home, wouldn’t you know it, we get invited to go to someone else’s house which is not ideally set up to accommodate 3 kids — 2 of whom are 4-year-old twins. Generally, the invite comes from family because most people outside of the family are not interested in play dates involving more than one kid. And, going to other people’s houses — especially if they don’t have young children — presents a new set of challenges. There are untold dangers lurking around every corner. We parents of multiple wee ones have to worry about :
1. Not breaking any of the hosts beautiful decorations. My house is completely childproofed… read: devoid of beautiful, breakable decorations… So, we don’t have them anymore. They’ve either been removed or broken;
2. Whether sharp objects like scissors, knives and tools are in locations accessible to little ones. Ours are all in locked drawers or out of reach cabinets.
3. Not falling down the stairs that have no baby gates. There’s a locked baby gate at the top and bottom of each stair case and at several door ways in my home; and
4. Not taking a dive into their swimming pool (doesn’t matter if it’s open or closed)…. Because my guys can’t swim yet. You see, the toddler swim lessons at the local pool require an adult for each child and are only offered when daddy’s at work.
When visiting others, help is welcome but generally not available. I absolutely do not expect anyone to watch or care for my children but me… and my husband! I recognize that other guests have come to this party to socialize and NOT to watch my kids. So, I accept that my role is still to parent and not to socialize all that much… Mostly, I’m running around — calmly on the outside, frantically on the inside — in search of one or more of my children to ensure their well-being… And, if I’m not worried that they’re still alive and still on the premises, I’m thinking about whether they’ve had anything to drink. Did I bring the apple juice? Have they and will they eat what’s available? Did I bring the Tostitos? Are they appropriately occupied? Not watching x-rated movies with the teenaged boys? Do they need their diapers changed? Or, have they exploded all over the hosts house? Are my children hurt? Have they broken anything — bones or the host’s valuables? Are they lost? Or, visiting with pets they shouldn’t be? And, the list goes on, specific to whose house we’re visiting.
This weekend was different! This weekend we had the good fortune to visit the stunningly beautiful home of my cousin, Bridgette, and her family for a reunion of my mom’s side of the family with all of my cousins. By the way, our host, Bridgette, also has 3 kids. Looking at them now — all middle-school aged and above — there’s no evidence whatsoever that she ever went through this frenzy that I experience every time we visit a new house. Makes me wonder if this is really a twin-specific thing versus a 3-kid thing. Anyway, there we are in a meandering home with rooms off of rooms off of rooms where comfy chairs grace nooks and crannies at every turn. Multi-level patios look out on the 7-acre grounds of manicured lawn and surrounding woods. Steps lead to an in-ground swimming pool and picturesque fire pit and there’s a trampoline at the edge of the clearing. Quads are parked in the long and winding driveway, waiting for drivers to choose any one of multiple paths that lead off into the woods. It’s a shangri-la. Their own Private Idaho which she opened up to the likes of us! Ha ha.
Sarg parked himself in the kitchen 5′ from the door to the downstairs playroom — with a view of the 1st floor office-turned-playroom. (Bridgette informed us that hand-me-down toys were moved upstairs specifically for our taking… Home! Please!) I parked myself outside on the upper deck with a view of both the exit door from the tv room and the lower deck sliders leading out to the yard which exits through the office connected to the basement playroom. It’ a jump and a skip (or a bee-line for the boys) to the pool from there! Aptly stationed… we stood guard!
As it turns out, Sarg was able to have a lengthy and in-depth conversation at the kitchen table with Cousin Tom and I caught up with cousins Rosalie and Jim while the children played nicely. Quietly. Supervised, cared for, followed and otherwise entertained by two of Bridgette’s children and one of Jimmy’s kids: Patrick, Joseph and Daniel attended to Brian and Michael like pros! They were having so much fun that Olivia and some of the other kids joined in. They all played. They all ate. They all jumped on the trampoline. They kicked the soccer ball and threw the football around. They watched Finding Nemo in the tv room and Star Wars in the Club House. Played sword-fighting in the basement playroom and robot in the office-turned-playroom upstairs. Even their cousin Tara pitched in to intercept Brian’s solitary bee-line toward the pool. Amazingly, neither he or his brother even bothered to try it again. The big kids were so engaging, the little kids had no reason to stray. Patrick and Joseph helped my boys onto and off of the trampoline. Daniel escorted them back up to the house (avoiding the pool). In between, Patrick even helped Olivia perfect her trampoline handstand and gave her a ride through the woods on the quad… After which Tim and I HAD to take turns giving Brian and Michael rides as well.
Great fun was had by all. Even, and maybe especially, by the Sarg and I because we so infrequently get the chance for child-free adult conversation (or to ride quads)… All my thanks to the next generation of cousins. These wonderful kids brightened our world this weekend. Their bright light shone, not at the end of the tunnel, but right here in the part we’re traveling through right now. What a wonderful band of angels my cousins are raising. They should be proud of their beautiful children and the gift they gave so willingly to me and mine without even being asked.
Here’s to my cousins’ children… Angels amongst us!