Monday, May 28, 2007

Herding cats

That was the theme of the weekend.

We visited Craig's side of the family for the weekend. This side of the family is jarringly large to me, since my family of origin consists of my mom, my dad, my brother, and my grandmother. I have cousins and such, but don't maintain any type of relationship with them. No drama or bad blood or family feuds, really, just never have had much communication with anyone besides the four. My brother is unmarried and has no kids, so we're a small group. We have no trouble getting a table when we go out to dinner. And the adults outnumber the kids 3 to 1 when we're all together.

But Craig's family is different. His mom is one of four daughters, and each of the daughters is married with kids. Ever since we started dating, I was accepted into the fold and a bit overwhelmed by their sheer numbers. Craig is the eldest of his generation of cousins, which number six, along with his sisters (so there are nine in his generation). Almost all the cousins have children. And after his father died, his mother married a man who had three daughters, thereby adding three to Craig's generation.

Both of Craig's sisters, as well as his three step-sisters, live within a 30-minute drive of each other, and of his mother and her husband. All of the sisters have at least one child, and our children are the eldest of that generation of cousins.

And this weekend, we had a mission. We were going to have all the kids photographed at the same time, by a trained professional. That's eight kids. The eldest is nine; the youngest is three. And the distribution works so that there are three three-year-old boys.

It was hilarious. It was mayhem. It was a bunch of little kids in blue shirts (two of the kids had matching hair). And it was too early for any of us to have been drinking quite yet.

The good news is that we got several good shots. The bad news is that my scanner is not working right now. Will it ever work again? I don't know. (And if someone can tell me how to upload pictures from my husband's camera phone, I'd sure love the help. I've tried to make it work all evening and my brain hurts.)

Going out to lunch after the photo shoot was an amazing feat. We were a party of nine adults and seven children (one of the kids, the youngest, went home immediately after the pictures). Rather than waiting an hour for a table (which would have almost certainly ended in tragedy), we opted to be seated in the bar seats, spread out among three high tables and at the bar (only adults could sit there). And, unfortunately, our servers did not seem to understand the first rule of dining with children: bring the kids' food out first. But we escaped, unscathed, and the rest of the weekend went fine, with the typical (and to be expected) flareups of preschoolers acting like preschoolers.

When I watch parents of preschoolers, I count myself lucky to not have any. When I had them, I know I enjoyed it. But raising little kids is hard. Physically and psychologically. As they transition from infants to full-fledged children, these little people are difficult. Sure, they're also cute and funny and all that, but they're mostly, as Dennis Leary says, more like drunk midgets than anything else.

So weekends like this one have a wonderful result: I appreciate my own children so darn much afterward. My children who shower independently, who go to bed when I tell them to, who eat their food, who almost never scream or cry or hit or throw tantrums, who make jokes and help out with dinner, who sit nicely at the table even when the food is taking forever to arrive. Sure, we have our issues, but parenting older kids is much more verbal and cerebral than reactive and physical.

To you moms (and dads) of little ones: stay strong. It'll be over before you know it, and you'll emerge on the other side with these fantastic young people who will amaze you. And they won't need pull-ups. Ever.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Thanks for the light at the end of the tunnel ;-). We're getting ready to go to travel many miles to my brother's wedding - with my relatively well behaved 5-year-old and my "drunk midget" 3-year-old. ooh boy, she is a handful!!