Monday, August 30, 2010

Exhausted Granny

I am at my daughter's house in Ontario, wearing my granny hat. Elena, whose blog is
Swimming Upstream just had baby #5. At 3:30 this afternoon, Isaac David made his appearance in the world, joining his three brothers and one sister.

I truly don't know how my two daughters (Elena and her sister Rebecca - blog What I Really Meant to Say)manage without much outside help; both have full and busy households with four young children. The energy level of these children is HIGH! They can keep going and going and not much seems to exhaust them.

Last night, Dave and Elena left for the hospital and I was alone in the house with the sleeping children and Sammy, the big golden retriever. Thank goodness, once they are asleep, they stay that way and, aside from Ben falling out of his bed and having to be replaced, nothing else happened during the night. The morning was busy, with breakfast, puzzles in the paper, games in the yard, some television so that I could prepare lunch. Then I promised them we would go swimming, because summer has returned with a vengeance and it was 33 degrees and sunny. With a beautiful lake and beach closeby, swimming is the order of the day. But Dave had taken the van. He thought he would be back in the morning, since Elena has quick labours, but this was not the same as the other deliveries. This one started and then stopped, so Dave didn't return by morning and I was left with four kids, one Toyota rental car, and two booster seats.

Well, you do what you gotta do and I packed the kids into the car, with the youngest in the booster seat in the middle, flanked by his sister and the second youngest boy. Then Jacob, the oldest and tallest, sat in front with me. But we also had to bring the rubber dinghy which is such fun at the beach. It didn't fit in the trunk, but I shoved it in the back in front of the kids, reasoning that it could count as an air bag and would also hide these small passengers from any passing policemen.

We took the least travelled roads to the beach, and out we got. Two hours of swimming, plus time on the monkey bars at the neighbouring playground, and a requisite ice cream cone on the way home still did not tire out these children. Once home, they played in the back yard, while I prepared dinner. I had planned spaghetti carbonara and took out the bacon and was boiling water to skin the tomatoes, when I thought "why? they will never appreciate this, and probably won't eat it" so hot dogs and hamburgers became the dinner menu. Along with some leftover bean salad from the day before, I had all their food groups covered.

Joe, the youngest, said "I'm not eating that" when I put a teaspoon of bean salad on his plate. So I stood my ground and said "no hot dog then". I insisted he eat the three pieces of bean salad if he wanted a hot dog, and he proceeded to squish the beans and said "they are squished now". So I took a fork and brought the stuff to his mouth. He spat it out, the hot dog was removed further from his plate and he was told he had to eat those chick peas that were now put on his plate. Seeing everyone else eating hot dogs, he ate the chick peas, we all cheered and he got his hot dog. Ben, to his left, had eaten the bean salad fast and was eating the hot dog, but somehow managed not to eat the meat. He had it in his hand, and the bun was gone with plenty of ketchup on it. He offered his hot dog to Joe who took it with delight but wanted a bun. At the exact same time, Ben got down and was playing with a scarf which he swung, it caught Hannah's water glass and spilled it over her plate. She managed to save the hot dog but the bun got soaked. Resisting the urge to get mad at Ben for swinging a scarf so close to the table, I thought "why not make the best of this" and I offered the soaked bun to Joe. Hannah said "but it's wet!" and I said "he probably doesn't know that". So she gave him the bun. He was thrilled, pushed his hot dog down into it, got ready to eat. Hannah, Jacob and I were all holding back our guffaws at this point, and then Joe said loudly "but it's wet". We all laughed out loud, at which Joe put the hot dog, bun and all in his mouth and ate it with a big grin.

There followed a sprinkler session to cool the kids down, which turned into a water fight, which got threats of "no more sprinkler!" and that resulted in a grass fight, which somehow became extremely dirty. All the kids were filthy within a matter of minutes and had to be all removed immediately and put in the shower, one after the other. This was followed by ice cream cones and TV, which gave me the chance to vacuum and clean up the mess in the house. All of this took place within a one-hour-time slot.

All I could think was that I can't keep this up for a week, I'll be dead! But mom is returning home tomorrow, and Dad will be here by morning to get the troops back in line. I know they are taking advantage of grandma and why not? such fun to carry on so and get away with it.

They are delightful characters, full of life and fun. They may tire this grandmother out, but I wouldn't have it any other way. In the end, they do listen and they are not hard to discipline. It is just when they work in a pack, as they did today, they can be lethal. No wonder the statement - Divide and conquer.


Jaclyn said...

I love this account of your time with those fantastic kids! Reinforces my desire for four kids - AND to move closer to my parents!

Rebecca said...

Okay, that was actually really funny because it sounded so familiar. I especially like the part about the soaked bun.

I hate the battle over food that happens every single night. The boys are actually pretty good (especially Jasper - he will eat anything and there is no fruit he has ever turned down) but the girls are, ah, a different story. I don't know if the boys are truly less picky, or if they are just too young to protest.

And as for how we do it -- I can't speak for Elena, but I am a living zombie much of the time and I only manage with an extremely involved husband and an almost daily nap. That, and thinking I'm lucky I didn't wait one more minute to have kids. I'm old enough as it is.

Happy anniversary tomorrow.