Friday, May 27, 2011


Sorry that I've been absent. I've been part of a sociological experiment this week. I moved across the street to look after the Supers' kids while they attended an awards trip. Mr. Super did outstanding work and got rewarded with a trip for two out west. And, like my parents, the Super Grandparents all work, so I volunteered to be a caretaker of a nearly two year old and a four year old. Both are lovely little girls with curly hair and awesome giggles.

I was worried at first about the youngest. She's super attached to her mama. And for good reasons. SuperShanna is amazing. As it turns out, the baby and I totally bonded. But I learned quite a lot about caring for three kids for 24 hours a day over the last four days. These won't surprise any of my friends with three kids. And there are several of them out there.

First, you have to be comfortable with chaos. Second, you have to keep your wits and humor about you. Three, you have to realize you're outnumbered and call in support when you have it. And last, you have to understand that there's a big chance one of the three will be totally unhappy with you at every moment of the day -- so be comfortable being the bad guy.

After all of that it's a lot of logistics. In our case the weather turned sour. So we did playdough and drawing and hair salon. I took the kids on field trips to the Orpheum Science Museum and the indoor park. The few moments the weather was nice, we were in the backyard or at the park. But there were times when schedules conflicted. So, MacTroll was called in to be at the house at 6:45 am, so I could make a 7 am physical therapy appointment. Or he put the baby down for her nap, while I picked up lunch and took the kids to a pre-school picnic. And I'm a believer now that should you have more than two kids you have to have a minivan or giganto SUV. Or at least a car that's not my Rav-4 because there's not space for a third carseat in the middle. If we all went somewhere we took two cars.

Then there's the food. Someone is always hungry. And even though you think you're ordering enough pizza for leftovers, there's suddenly a 30-minute tornado warning that makes everyone ravenously hungry... And there's only enough leftovers for two the next day.

I also had a steep learning curve. But I deal with infants and toddlers at work so you learn the difference between the "I effing wanna do this myself" frustrated scream and the "Get your butt over here and help me get my leg unstuck" scream. :-) You also get a frontrow look at how siblings problem solve. X-man and SuperC are only 8 months apart. And they've known each other since they were SuperE's age (20 months). So they fight like siblings. X-man knows SuperC hates it when she talks to him and he doesn't answer. SuperC knows it drives X-man nuts when she threatens to revoke her friendship if he won't play what she wants to play. It takes about 5 minutes of them whining at me and not getting the intervention they want before they negotiate and come up with a way to satisfy them both.

I am listening while all this goes on. But in my brain, I'm diapering a super happy, but poopy, baby who loves to shout "boodabah!" in my ear over and over. So, you know, trying to contain poop and prevent any rolling of a super toddler takes precident over squabbling.

Again, wits and humor. But for the most part, they were three amazing kids. X-man and SuperC took turns in the car writing their letters and numbers with a pen and paper. (Just a note that this is something they chose to do). They also were great at sharing toys and bedtime books. And SuperE, at almost two, was a total caretaker. X-man bumps his head E pats him on the back. SuperC falls out of her flip flop and hurts her arm and E gives her a cup of water. Turns out E has empathy in spades. And it's delightful to see.

MacTroll and I only have the one kid, and unless we have a drastic change of heart and adopt (and he stops traveling) we'll only ever have one. But being around the girls made me realize that even though parenting might require us to have less time together, we're really a pretty good team.

But I have to admit, I felt like I was giving my all, but that the littlest got most of my attention. And in the capacity of big brother, X-man didn't mind. He was particularly good about listening for her at bedtime and at wake up time. He didn't knock her over and didn't get jealous that she took up vital mom real estate (my lap and arms). But at the end of the day, he got to lie in bed with me while he read his books and I read the news and chat with me about the world. Then his eyes got droopy and off to sleep he went, while some radio station broadcast suddenly came over the baby monitor. There's just no training for parenthood. It's just a giant bootcamp that lasts the rest of your life.

So, parents with multiples and parents who are by yourselves... I am, as always, in awe of your patience and skill. Even with three fabulous kiddos, I was wiped at the end of the day.

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