I was due for some chaos again…

What happens when you toss 5 children under the age of six together and allow eight hours to simmer? A cooking experiment with explosive results and a very tired chef. On Monday of this past week my sister-in-law returned to work and I offered to take the children on Tuesday. The combination of mixed greens looks like this:

”    One 6-year-old boy

”    One 4-year-old boy

”    One 3-year-old boy

”    One 2-year-old boy

”    One 1-year-old girl

Since these children are all products of my own gene pool, they are well-behaved, sweet children. Unless a cousin can’t share a toy with his cousin, or a brother whacks his brother because he contradicted something he’d said, or a little girl decides she’d rather have her mommy around and screams for a solid hour-and-a-half in protest. That said, however, I had prepared myself for a solid day’s work, and I am here to tell you that that is exactly what I got, starting at 7:00am sharp.

Regular childcare providers tell me that once kids are in a routine, the high child to adult ratio becomes more manageable. This must be true, since there are people out there who have chosen to provide full-time childcare voluntarily. I would assume that a one-year-old screamer will, at some point, accept the fact that Mommy is not around for now, and that the baby-sitter’s hip will not last with a baby on it for the next 7 ½ hours. As it is, however, I watch my niece and nephew only sporadically, and that sweet little girl with the face of an angel has the lungs of Gene Simmons, which is particularly troublesome to the sensitive ears of our highly auditory 2-year-old little boy. Translation: From 8:00am – 9:30am I took turns holding either a screaming baby or a whimpering toddler or both at once.

Breakfast was interesting, as no scrap of food actually entered my own mouth until the five other tummies were full. But the most interesting part of the morning came when I decided to take the children to our local Ontario Early Years Centre, a place with lots of room, lots of toys, free snacks, and free coffee. Perfect.

I briefly considered taking the bikes, but then remembered that the bikers outnumber the non-bikers 2:1, and a scene of chaos involving training wheels and crying children flashed through my mind. Logic and reason prevailed and I decided to take the van.

Our minivan technically fits 5 passengers in the back, although it should be said that five booster/car seats do not fit as well as 5 bums. It sounds crazy, but you could probably fit 5 overweight people into the van more easily than you could accommodate 5 little kids in their over-sized plastic butt-moulds. Once you squeeze the boosters into the back row there is precious little room left for the seatbelt, so you as the adult get to hop into the back of the van and fold yourself in half trying to buckle each squirming child into their booster seat.

Once I had accomplished this feet of acrobatics, I buckled in the other two, made 3 separate trips back to the house for things I had forgotten, and finally rolled out of the driveway about 20 minutes after I had promised the kids the trip. “Now boys, be quiet, because the baby has to sleep,” I admonished them as we were driving down the street. This was, of course, a waste of breath as boys ranging in age from 3 to 6 cannot, under any circumstances, keep their hands to themselves, especially not when they’re sitting so close to each other.

Having arrived at the EYC everybody piled out of the van as I scrambled to keep the mobile ones from running across the parking lot. I set up the stroller to avoid carrying the heavy car carrier. Everyone was ready to go as soon as I could unbuckle the 2-year-old, when I realized that he was not wearing any shoes. Perfect. Bare feet are not allowed for health and safety reasons so I had no choice but to herd everyone back into the van (“shhhhh! The baby’s sleeping. Don’t wake her up!”) and head all the way back home.

Miraculously the baby did not wake up and we managed to go back home, procure the toddler’s sandals, and make it back to the EYC with some time to play before it closes at noon. I had almost forgotten about the baby until her cries emanated from underneath the blanket draped over her carrier. As I began unbuckling her, I realized that she too was not wearing any shoes. It was then that I knew that it was going to be an awesome day.

4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    G. Krumrei said,

    Just want to comment on the voluntary childcare, which we at times had done. We found it was easily accomplished provided the parents were nowhere in sight. The child, and/or children, adapted almost immediately to a new subset behaviour standard, ie, response to discipline, caring, interaction and general do’s & dont’s, etc. Never considered myself as skillful with children, but was blown away once, after the parents had been away for the weekend, the children implored to be allowed to stay! Who knew!………. ‘Course it was Dr James Dobson who indicated you ain’t seen nothing till you have met a strong willed child…………oh well

    • 2

      Debbie said,

      You’re so right that children behave differently with non-parents than with parents. I’ve often said that it’s such a paradox that we women endure all the joys of pregnancy, birth children with great pain, spend the first 3 months of their lives awake, etc. etc. only to be rewarded with children that whine as soon as they see you. What kind of thanks is that?!? “Others” are always cooler than parents!

      • 3

        G. Krumrei said,

        Ha! Strikes such a chord! Please consider tho’, we men observing your struggles helplessly during and after pregnancy, (‘scuse us when we considered our beautiful wives brittle and breakable), so no wonder when, upon the baby’s arrival, many of us males suffered from a huge case of postpartum anxiety. In my case I would not allow my wife to carry our beautifull baby up or down stairs, but did it for her, as well as supervise baby activities closely for several weeks. Ah yes…..I realise now what a fabulous mother she was, but also had the patience of a saint……..sigh!

      • 4

        Debbie said,

        I can only imagine how wonderfully supportive you must have been, Mr. K! Even though she wasn’t my mom, I can testify that Mrs. K was a fabulous woman and mother. A saint indeed…

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