Too Many Kids?

pool

There’s a lackadaisical approach which increases with the number of children you have. Perhaps it’s a matter of life getting busier or that there’s more bodies to dress and feed. Or maybe it’s the realisation that the standards you’d held for both yourself and your child are now unobtainable without someone in the house developing a drinking problem.

For many parents of large families, there comes a moment of clarity. It becomes apparent that there are more children than adults. And while you may see your child as incredibly special, you realise they’re all incredibly special and sometimes through necessity they will have to be ignored, wait in line, or just be bloody patient ffs while someone else has their moment! Deep breath, and, exhale.

I’ve spoken to other parents of four or more, and there’s a common concern. Amongst the busyness and the full house there’s an inkling that something has been missed. Was I too busy? Was there so much going on that day that I just didn’t notice how sad/happy/disinterested my child was. Did I not see the sign up sheet. Was I meant to be at the poetry reading? How long have you been wearing your long tracksuit pants as basketball shorts?

I watch the effort and enthusiasm friends with one or two children appear to be able to input on a daily basis with wonder. We’ve learnt to scale back to gain control. One sport per season, one instrument, one after school activity. My children now discuss their schedules with each other.

“I have a party this Thursday night” announces one.

“Wait a minute so do I, what time is yours?” says another.

They know that pick up and drop offs revolve around six people, six schedules and one possibly two cars.

“When do you have to be at softball?” one will ask with trepidation.

“It’s okay, not until 10, she can pick you up after she drops me off” the other will interject knowing where the conversation is going.

There is a low level guilt which floats in my subconscious. Have they missed out through overcrowding. Have they had their turn, their time, their moment? Did I really look into their eyes at some point today. And then this.

While we celebrated Henry Hotdog’s ninth birthday this weekend Miss 15 took a moment to Skype a friend and wish her a Happy Birthday. I could hear the sound of a gaggle of 15 year old girls in the background, she laughed along with them, showed them her little brother’s cake and then announced she had to get off the phone as we were heading to the pool as a family.

“Did you miss a party this weekend?” it was a genuine inquiry, she hadn’t mentioned it at all to me.

“Yeah, I realised there was no way I was going to be able to go. I would have missed too much of Henry’s birthday. And you know, I’m going to school next year, this is my last one for awhile.”

I watched her wading around in the water with her brothers and sisters. A game was initiated, someone accused someone of intentional drowning, they moved towards the fountain. She held her little brother tightly as she spun around in circles with the water splashing on their shoulders. And as he squealed I realised that while I may not have been able to look into each of their eyes at all times, there had been plenty of spares in my place. They’ve always had the attention of each other.

They are a unit, a team, a force. Each one incredibly special.

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