It was not very often that "Doc" and I could get away for an evening. Going overnight anywhere without the tribe was highly unusual. Let's face it, if you could find someone willing to watch six energetic and creative kids the cost of paying one to three babysitters would be astronomical. If I were to be honest, and I will, there were days when I did not want to watch them!
It may be one of the reasons "Ninja" and I became friends and why I love her. She was crazy enough to take on that task!!! You just have to hang on to a friend like that!
I truly do not remember where we went but I do remember that she had the kids alone with her during the evening. How do you entertain six kids? Parking them in front of a video game was not an option. I did not allow those in the house. They couldn't play outside because it was dark. Here's an idea! Hide and Seek in the Dark. Sounds good right?
First we establish the rules. Actually there was only one rule. This is good - not a lot to remember in the heat of the game. The rule is: NO RUNNING! An excellent rule, especially since we have a beam right in the middle of our kitchen. They had a ball. I can only imagine the giggles and screams as they scared each other in the dark!
Until...... The lights were turned on and blood was found. One look at the "Blonde" told the whole story. As soon as the game started, she took off running and ran smack dab in the center of that kitchen beam. Of course, she continued on so as not to interrupt the game and more importantly, she did not want to get in trouble for not following the rules. I am sure the "Ninja" went through a quick moment of panic. "How do I tell my friend that I broke her child?" No worries. Remember, I know what my kids are capable of.
The "Surprise" was always very imaginative as a little guy. I don't know why, he already had so many siblings to entertain him. But anyway, he would go off on his own and come up with some amazing things. As I have said, we have an unusual household, and we generally just take things in stride. A lot seems to occur when I head to the grocery store. HMMM.
Came home from shopping one day and walked out onto the deck. This was years before the table was shot. "Surprise" was probably only three or four. I immediately noticed a rope strung from the deck to a tree in the yard. Weird. I have a dryer - are you kidding, dry my clothes outside with this mob? Nothing was hanging from it. I was bewildered of course. So, I cautiously started asking each little human that walked through if they knew anything about that rope. (Keep in mind, no one EVER knows anything or does anything in our house.)
I never really thought to ask "Surprise" because he was so little. With all the others already interrogated and pleading ignorant, I went to the youngest. I was sure he would at least rat someone out. I was more than a little amused by the answer. He looked me straight in the eye and said, "Well, you know Godzilla lives in our pond." Now most adults would immediately dispute this with something like, "now you know Godzilla is just a movie and isn't real." But as I have said I have learned to just roll with it. So I simply said, "Really. I did not know that. What does that have to do with the rope?" Again, he looked me straight in the eye and very innocently said, "Well, if Godzilla decides to come to our house, he will get caught in the rope and we will be safe."
Can't argue with that logic. Thanks "Surprise" for always thinking these things through and keeping us safe! What would we have done without you?!!
I need a little break from the heavier discussions.
Interesting - both "Mommy" and "Mini-Me" decided to have pictures of my grandchildren done on Saturday. Because she lives closer, I went with "Mini-Me" to lend an extra pair of hands. The memories came flooding back. Now I know I am aging because when my children were born, their hospital photos consisted of a blue or pink blanket depending on whether they were male or female and a quick photo that made them look like little monkeys because the picture was taken right after they got drops in their eyes. I don't care what anyone says, those pictures were not cute. But we bought them anyway and handed them out proudly didn't we?!
First official pictures were never taken until around six weeks. At that time photographers just didn't do that. Now, we like to get pictures in two weeks or less. Babies are posed in cute things like bowls and baskets and are often naked. A newborn without a diaper is cute and potentially messy. I am amazed at how the photos come out - and a little jealous.
So I went with my daughter to help. Wait - no one ever helped me!!!. Imagine this scenario. Six small children ages 6 months to 11 years. The 11 year old is a perfectionist and needs to look perfect. Oh yes, she wants to hold the "Surprise". As "Mommy" it is her entitlement. But wait, "Calvin" who is all energy and motion wants to hold the "Surprise". The "Surprise" is a boy and should be held by his brother, not a girl! "Mini-Me" and the "Blonde" are indifferent to the whole thing and "Pook" is not interested in not being muddy or unable to play for that period of time. So, I finally handle the dispute by giving in. "You will both have pictures taken holding the "Surprise"."
To some degree, you want them to be dressed nicely for pictures. That can be accomplished without too much fanfare. The girls are of course anxious to be "dolled up" and very cooperative. "Calvin" and "Pook" are placed in nice clothes but promptly become half naked and/or sloppy multiple times enroute to the studio. Thankfully at this point, the "Surprise" is somewhat compliant due to age or lack thereof.
"Doc" has often said that those group photos are more a statement about me than how beautiful our family is. The ability to corral six children, get them into dress clothes, get them to a studio without a fight or a black eye and then have them smile in a perfectly photogenic way is no small feat. By the way, I gave up on the perfect picture when "Calvin" was born. He was rough and tumble and if I waited for bruises and scrapes to go away we would never have had a photo of him. I also gave in on facial expressions - if that's what they want to look like for posterity, so be it. It is what it is.
All in all, we have some stunning family photos that were taken throughout the years. I would like to think that the family love always shined through. Others would say, I should have been a drill sergeant if I was able As for me, the kids looked great but I was always disheveled and near tears and definitely ready for a relaxing glass of wine when all was said and done.
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!