22 Apr

Let me put it this way: The dogs are hiding out in my room, under my bed.  The box of milk bones is empty.  It was full two hours ago.  There are six children here, ranging in age from 3 to 10.  A 3, a 5, two 8’s, a 9 and a 10.  The 8’s are girls and they are more trouble (or one of them is) than the entire remaining group.  The troublesome one has changed clothes no less than 5 times in the few hours since she got out of bed.  She wants to go on a bike ride, but will only wear skirts and dresses.  She is not concerned when I tell her that her hems will get caught in the pedals and the chain.  I am concerned that she is not simply putting on bicycle-appropriate clothes when I tell her to.

The girls have “trained” the dogs.  The dogs are all sleeping now, exhausted from their intensive session.  Every toy in the house is out.  Every article of clothing Anna owns is on the floor of her bedroom.  I have caught her at least three times in my closet trying to sneak away with my high heels.  “Do you have anything higher?” she asks.  “No, I don’t, and put those back.”  “But Mo-o-o-m…”

I was just drawn away from this posting by the slamming of a door and the sound of someone screaming.  You all know what that means.  The girls were coming in to “annoy” the boys and one of the boys (the one formerly known as the “good” one) slammed the door to keep the “annoying” girls out and the fingers of our five year-old guest were the recipient of a hard slam.  But the slammer and the slammee are sitting together in a chair right now.  Both of them crying, but more sobbing now, one in pain, one in penance.  I have lectured the whole rowdy group of them, and there have been a lot of apologies all around.

I told the boys we don’t slam or even close the doors against each other and I told the girls that they must not antagonize.  In fact, they have an obligation to be people that the boys want to be around.  That’s probably overstepping what was actually required, but I don’t like teasing and annoying and antagonizing.  Anything designed to provoke frustration or screaming in another is out-of-bounds behavior as far as I am concerned. 

With three children in the house, there is always a lot of noise, but there doesn’t have to be unpleasantness.  I discourage squabbling and fighting.  I do not accept that acting ugly to each other is part of being in a family.  I know there will be disagreements, but I hope that they can learn to work those out or simply walk away.  They will probably all be in therapy for the rest of their lives from not being allowed to show their true feelings for each other in the family-of-origin, but that’s a chance I am willing to take for the sake of my own sanity.  I don’t think there’s anything particularly redeeming about immature persons being encouraged to act out their feelings.  I say this from experience. 

I just got a call from the mother of two of our guests.  We are going to meet for a late lunch.  3 adults (two moms and a dad), seven children.  Low end of the age range will be in 2 instead of 3.  Wish us luck.


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