Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Glutton For Punishment

My kids keep my hands full every day.  For that matter, my kids keep my hands full and my hair gray and my head spinning... every day.  But what some of you may not know is that, in addition to my own kids, I watch other children during the day as well.

Cael in August 2008
It was a simpler time.  The year was 2008, and Cael was just a nine month-old when I agreed to watch a friend's baby a few days a week as a way to make some money while I was at home.  Over the years they've grown up as good friends/accomplices/jailmates and it all worked well, even though two kids meant twice the work.  A couple of years later, we both added to our families and doubled the diapers and runny noses.  As my own family grew in size and in need (aka Cael wearing through a pair of jeans each week) we needed more, so I took on another neighbor boy on my remaining free days.  There was a point at which I considered overlapping them, but I felt that on a daily basis it wouldn't be a safe choice.  I know how much work my two kids can be on their own, and the thought of dividing my attention five ways was daunting to say the least.

And then came yesterday.  Yesterday was not a normal Tuesday.  Yesterday I watched all FIVE children by myself.  (Before I begin this diatribe, let me say that mothers who have that many children [or more] deserve a medal, a stiff drink or a detailed psychological analysis.)  I agreed to watch them all because my friend was in a bind, and I figured "what's one day?".  Famous last words. 

It's not even that it went badly.  It didn't.  I woke up, whispered "I can do this" to myself repeatedly (and would continue throughout the day) and we got through it just fine.  But now that it's over, I am able to look back and clearly understand the key to watching multiple children:

1.  Don't drink anything all day.  If you allow yourself any water, you WILL have to pee.  And if you leave for one moment to pee, your almost two-year-old will decided to launch himself off of the stairs and forget the beanbag that he needs to soften his landing.  (Side note: this is Graham's new favorite pastime.  It is a full-time job to monitor his dare-devil activities to make sure he's only jumping from the bottom step and not from the third.... or fourth...)

2.  No mashed potatoes.  Potatoes are a good, usually kid-friendly addition to any lunch, but when you have more children than arms, you need to choose foods that are not wet, soft and/or "launchable".  Think foods that you can pick up with your fingers.  Mashed potatoes inside one's ear are much less appetizing than on one's plate.  (The same rule applies for applesauce and yogurt.)

3.  Hearing is overrated.  Good hearing is merely a nuisance in this scenario, as it requires you to listen to every whine, sneeze, cry, tantrum, belch and train whistle at full volume.  Buckling them all into chairs at lunch time simply funnels this noise into one condensed stream that swims through the air and assaults your eardrums. 

4.  Conditions will stink.  I had planned plenty of outdoor time and activities to help the hours pass and to combat boredom, but yesterday was one of the only days in two weeks that it rained (and WOW, did it rain) and was the last day it will rain for several more.  I could have predicted it.  Additionally, I had a couple of different DVD options to quiet them down and settle in for some Pixar therapy, but my DVD player is magically broken, and I fear that little fingers have crammed multiple discs into the slot intended for just one.  Great.

5.  Just play along.  The kids always want me to play with them, and I try to do this as much as my brain will allow.  Yesterday I learned that our house was "flying through the air like an airplane!" and that the boys were "going to America!".  (For those of you that don't know me very well, I also learned that I am "a nice Mommy" but I have really "messy hair" and I make "yucky carrots".)  There does come a point at which I reach my threshold and need an adult conversation.  That is the point at which I call someone in my family and talk about, well, kids and trains and diapers.  And speaking of diapers... 

6.  There will be poop.  I was so hopeful that post-potty training (which I can thankfully and fearfully say is 100% COMPLETE for Cael) my daily exposure to excrement would decrease.  Not so.  The experts don't tell you about the months of bottom-wiping that follow a child's ability to use the potty.  Just because they can "go" does not mean they can clean themselves.  Just great.  Yesterday I wiped bottoms 13 times-- and of those 13 times, seven were for good ol' number two.

I slept like a rock last night, all the while dreaming about a 10 month-old, a 22-month old, a 2 year-old, a 3 year-old and an almost 4 year-old.  I'm a little hazy today, but one thing is certain.  I have a lot of respect for Michelle Duggar.  Someone should give that woman a medal, a stiff drink or a detailed psychological analysis.


  1. I wiped bottoms 42 times today (no exaggeration) and at least 12 were good ol' number two. We could talk for HOURS.

  2. Holy crap... no pun intended! 42, huh? That's brutal. We could talk for hours, and I think it would be best for that conversation to happen with a margarita or something with a little memory eraser in it.


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.