The pictures featured in this post are from Ava’s spring break, so she was able to be with me at the Coopers that week.
When Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show became a grandparent, she declared that she was too young to be called a grandmother. She said that, instead, she thought that this new stage in her life should be called Motherhood: The Sequel. (I was going to be all suave and find a video clip of this scene. Sadly, it was not to be found.)
Well, I am calling the five weeks (and any time in the future) that I have spent caring for Josh’s sisters Motherhood: The Prequel. Although I am already a mother of 3, these 3 girls older than all of my children. By spending time with them, I am getting the opportunity to to have a sneak peak into my own children’s futures. I was thrown into a world of packed lunches and homework and playground bullies and eye shadow. Memories have been made, arguments have been had, and before you know it…life has happened.
Spa pedicures on the porch!
Here are some things I learned about elementary aged girls during Motherhood: The Prequel –
~ There is absolutely no shame in not packing a lunch for the kids on a day that you’re out of bread. Regardless of how they typically feel about cafeteria food, it is OK to have a day where you give everyone $2 and tell them to fend for themselves. It’s quite liberating, actually.
Peanut Hunt! With Peanut Proud being a week away, there were nuts like this all over town.
~ When you DO pack their lunches, remember, you’re packing it more for their friends than themselves. Their friends’ lunch will always have more appeal than what you slave over to prepare, so instead of worrying about making a lunch they will like, make one that has a high trade value.
Picnic dinner at our state park! Yes, I took 6 kids by myself to the state park. And yes, I think I do have a screw loose, thanks for asking.
~ If you discover that there’s a relatively healthy meal that you will cook AND that everyone will eat, that is gold, my friend, gold.
I felt the need to document how much fresh produce we were eating. I guess it is more fun to eat healthy outside!
~ Meeting the academic needs of 3 children during the one hour allotted for homework is very difficult.
~ Our girls’ modesty is under attack in today’s culture. They are being bombarded with imagery of teenage girls (especially cartoons!) showing A LOT of their skin. It used to be that modesty was a talk that you could save for when a girls’ body started changing with puberty, because they simply didn’t THINK to dress inappropriately before then. I had problems convincing a nine year old to cover up almost daily…a NINE YEAR OLD.
~ Elementary age girls have a very strong sense of ownership. Regardless of how many time an item, like clothing, has been passed around the family, if they have used/worn it in the last week, it is THEIRS. A sibling contradicting this fact can result in a knock down, drag out fight.
This rule is conveniently bypassed, however, when someone would like to use something that another sibling has used/worn in the past week. The coveting child suddenly becomes a great example of sharing virtue. Then she gets beat up in a knock down, drag out fight.
~ 90% of stomach and headaches can be fixed with a good distraction.
~ Children can be picky about everything thing. every. thing. Even the type of chocolate chip cookies they are given. IT’S COOKIES, PEOPLE. Just be happy you’re getting some junk food and move on!
~ Speaking of pickiness, Angie Smith wrote a blog about the Tyranny of Choice around Christmas. I really understood her points a lot more after watching the girls. I think they were surprised that I wasn’t giving them the choices/options they were used to having. They didn’t get the full reign over the TV and internet that they were used to having. They couldn’t go outside whenever they wanted to. They had a schedule to live by. (Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that they are typically able to watch whatever they want, I just was even stricter than they are used to.)
My defense is thus: It’s just not possible, when responsible for 6 children by yourself, to allow them total freedom. It wouldn’t be safe, because I can’t supervise 6 children doing 6 different things. It’s also not practical. For example, I simply didn’t have time to prepare 6 different meals to fit the 6 different appetites of 6 different people. There are times when you get the privilege of choosing what you want, but there are times when you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit. And when you’re one of 6 kids, the latter scenario is most of the time.
Not to mention some of the serious implications of allowing a child free reign in choice. But fortunately, Angie wrote that blog entry, so I don’t have to. (Another disclaimer: I’m not saying the girls typically have too much freedom. I just didn’t want to, while I was responsible for them, let them turn into little entitled monsters.)
~ Free printable coloring sheets can be your best friend, especially when one comes home with no homework and the others have homework. I just hope my inlaws have some ink left.
Making some very Pinterest-y flower cupcakes!
~ The best way to cure a child from starvation is to offer them a dinner that they don’t like.
~ It is VERY HELPFUL for caretakers that don’t know a child’s school when teachers send home a paper each week explaining precisely what a child’s homework will be for an entire week. Teachers, PLEASE put the effort into doing this, it could really influence the kind of help that a child gets at home. Also, PLEASE send home a note with a child EVERY TIME the child has to bring money in for any reason.
While I’m on this soapbox, teachers, if you know that a child is going through a hard time and that they are separated from their parents for whatever reason, please remember that whoever is taking care of them may not be aware of how you do things. If you could possibly take the time to jot a note to them on occasion to explain things, that would be awesome. But I know you’re busy. But it really would help.
Sleepover for Isabel’s birthday at my house one weekend!
~ Speaking of bringing money to school…wow. Between the amount of money constantly being asked for and the fact that 6:15 AM comes early…it’s enough to make me reconsider homeschooling!
Matching tunics and leggings for church.
It was a crazy five weeks, and I’m not proud of how I handled all the challenges I was faced with. Bottom line is, I’ve had an unique opportunity to build relationships with Josh’s sisters that I never dreamed I would get to have. Not having siblings of my own, this is something that is very much appreciated and cherished.
Harlie update: She is still having unexplained vomiting. However, the bright side is, her therapist is starting to work with her on standing up! There’s a video on facebook of her therapist using a game of peek-a-boo to get her to stand up. Awesomeness!!!