While there are many beautiful, gratifying things about having a large family, there are few things I would categorize as convenient. One of the few is the rare occurrence when you can pawn off some parenting onto one of the children.
For example, our 7-year-old will read to anyone who’ll listen to her. This comes in handy when I can muster neither the strength nor the desire to read Pinkalicious for the four thousandth time to our 5-year-old. (Honestly, that book is a paean to greed. If you eat all the cupcakes in your house, you deserve to turn a shade of red.)
On Saturday afternoon both boys were out, and we were home with only the three girls. A completely different energy filled the house, by which I mean that we were not dodging footballs or basketballs in the living room or being forced to listen to endless predictions for Sunday’s games. For the first time in a decade, we read the paper from cover to cover.
Our reverie, however, was punctuated by the sound of our 7-year-old reading to our 5-year-old. I don’t remember what I heard first, the satanic giggling or something along the lines of “get as close to the woman as he can.”
In my haze of PTSD, I don’t even remember HOW we realized that they had gotten their paws on a copy of Where Did I Come From (a book that first traumatized me over 30 years ago, and has the remarkable staying power to continue to do so). But they had.
I should note here that I have a horrible panic reflex. If a kid runs out into the street, I freeze, close my eyes, and scream for help. So when it dawned on me that the girls had worked out the facts of life, on their own, I did the same thing — I seized up, closed me eyes and screamed for M.
Hours later the boys came home, and the girls couldn’t wait to share the “news” with them. Our big secret was finally out.
M and I were sitting at the table with our 3-year-old, now the only truly innocent member of the family. (True, she bit me this morning when I wouldn’t let her eat a stale piece of Hanukkah gelt she found under the bed, but I’ll take what I can get.) We were mid-conversation when several of the kids ran in. It’s one thing to understand how things work. It’s another entirely to comprehend that these things are happening under your roof.
In they ran, holding up the book, pointing to a photo of a pleasantly plump, if not overly hairy couple, in the midst of procreation.
Dear God. Couldn’t you have made her a late reader?
“You mean you guys actually DO this?”
There was one page of the day’s paper I hadn’t read. It was in my hands. I once again lapsed into a giant muscle spasm, only retaining the ability to quickly raise the paper and throw it in front of my face.
M was nonplussed. (It must be remarkable to be so unflappable. You’d think after 15 years of cohabitation an ounce of it would have rubbed off.)
And that was all she wrote. He looked at them, and then at me, still cowering under the Metro section. Bubble burst. Lesson learned.
That’s right. Big whoop, was his message. Now you know. When you’re done absorbing that please put on your pajamas and brush your teeth.
It’s time for bed.