When people find out we have four children, they often ask us how we do it. Erin and I usually smile and nod since the question assumes that our life is chaotic. I certainly don’t see it that way and I fee comfortable in saying that Erin would agree with me. We have four kids, so it’s not supposed to be quiet in our house. Any thoughts we had of having an immaculately clean house straight out of Southern Living left the building a long, long time ago. Toys litter the floor and our garage frequently has my tools spread all over the place from my boys’ constant desire to take things apart just to see how they work. We have tons of laundry each week and our weekly grocery bill is more than many families spend in an entire month. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m always flattered each time someone in public complements our family. We always smile and say thank you. The boys open doors for us and for other adults. They wait their turns and say please and thank you to people who serve us in restaurants. Even Rosie gets kudos for flipping the sweetness button with servers. On more than one occasion her meal has been comped thanks to her petite Southern charm. I can’t take credit for that. It’s all Erin. She had to train me as well. When we first got married I never gave second thought to walking through a door first. She persistently reminded me that gentlemen opened doors for ladies. I resisted as all husbands do, but the power of feminine persuasion is the magic that holds the universe together. At least until NCAA tournament time.
This past weekend we had a little bonfire in the backyard and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. We were out of chocolate (thanks, Phillip!) so S’mores weren’t on the menu. Everybody has his or her own roasting fork. We’re all pretty good except for Autumn. She drops everything in the fire and then blames us all for making her drop it. Carl usually comes to her aid and roasts things for her. Unfortunately her Divatude still needs some work to show him the appreciation he deserves.
Although we eat dinner together every night, at least two nights per week we eat dinner in the living room while we watch a show we all can enjoy. Some nights it’s the Batman TV show, other nights it’s the CW’s The Flash. Earlier this week we watched Dr. Strange much to the boys’ delight. What shocked me was that Autumn had watched the cartoon movie Dr. Strange at some point the past and was familiar with the story. I’m amazed at how well versed the kids are of the cartoon world, from Little Einsteins and Bubble Guppies to Power Rangers and Star Wars Rebels. I tried to show them He-man and the Masters of the Universe as well as She-Ra, Princess of Power. Alas, I was told the shows and I were too old. Given that I pay the Netflix and Hulu bills, 1980s cartoons will remain in their futures.
The kids keep hounding me to take them back to the park in Garner. We’ve had many picnics there over the years. There’s a wide open space near the picnic area where we play football in the Fall and throw frisbee in the summer. Most of the time Phil and Jon end up at the top of the magnolia trees that line the edge of the play area. I warn them not to go too high but they never listen. I tell them if they got stuck it will be their own fault and as far as I am concerned they can just live up there because fat people don’t climb trees.
We are nearing time for Pelican’s Snoballs. If you have never had a snoball, you are missing out! They come in over 100 flavors with literally millions of combinations . The small ones have 150 calories which makes them perfect for eating two or three. I’ve mentioned it several times to Erin and I’m sure we’ll head out that way soon. The kids eat their snoballs and then head off to the play area to swing or slide. It’s a fun time to relax and enjoy some fresh air.
So you see, when people ask me how we can raise four children and not be totally insane, the reason is quite simple. We make the small things we do with each other mean a lot. Kids need our time and our attention. If they don’t get it from us as parents they will seek it somewhere else, and that can lead to consequences no parent ever wants to face. We have a blast together. Most of the things we do don’t cost anything extra outside of our regular grocery bill, and those that do cost money are minimal at best. Besides, it’s not about the money. It’s about the moments. When Erin and I have passed on from this life I want my babies to have memories of how much fun our family had together. They won’t remember the toys they got in their Easter basket or the money I gave them to go to the Lego Store, but they sure will remember their daddy trying to squeeze his chubby tail in a much-too-small booth at the Krispy Kreme. One final note: why are there tiny booths at the Krispy Kreme? Do they not realize that the “Hot Now” sign is like the Bat Signal for fat people? You can’t have a congregation of the calorically challenged and not have bigger booths. The next time we take the kids for doughnuts, maybe we’ll try one of the independent places. Maybe they’ll be more chubby friendly.