Alright, in case you did not know I have four kids. If you need to verify that you can count the number of gray hairs I now have on my head that my wife so lovingly points out to me.(and pulls out for me- no wonder people go bald) Children provide both comic relief and stress all in one exciting package. We have been around people who have had more kids and have marveled at how it is done. We have been around people with fewer children and have marveled at how easy life would be with one. The average number of children in a household has been said to be about 2.5 kids and decreasing. People have chosen, for any number of reasons, not to have children. This provides for interesting conversations when I tell people I have four kids. I have gotten everything from excitement to restrained terror. This dynamic amuses me when we show up to an event with our three boys ready to eat all their snacks. It also make me want to help people without children understand what the reality of our life is, just so that they can better appreciate children. So, I have compiled a list of perceptions that I have heard either when someone has asked me, or based on reactions we have gotten from the world at large. This is my attempt at being helpful to the world in a light-hearted manner.
You don’t sleep – Well, the truth is I do sleep. But, I do believe that parents of children under 5 are not allowed to sleep for more than four hours at a time. So, while my sleep does not look like your sleep, don’t judge. Sleep is sleep and I will take it anyway I can.
Kids only eat things on the restaurant kid menu- I want to know who designed those kid menus. I don’t think we are that different in that our kids do eat more things than just chicken tenders and french fries. Certainly don’t feel like you have to change your meal because we are coming over. My kids will eat clam chowder or fish or whatever you put in front of them. It is all good and they know it.
So, you don’t like people – It is not that I don’t like people, just that I don’t like people who ask me that question. The truth is we don’t get out much right now because of the season of life we are in. That does not mean we don’t like being out with people.
Preschool songs are on 24 hours a day in your house- Well, I guess this all depends on what you mean by preschool song. If you mean that I play Barney songs all day, no I do not. However, I do occasionally bust out a Barney song to sing. This is especially disturbing because my children do not watch Barney. They just look at me bewildered as if something has possessed dad. The truth is we listen to different things and sometimes even let them play without music.
Your house must be loud — What? This is one of my favorites. All I tell people is , “I have three boys.” I think that should tell the story. I am constantly listening to them play upstairs thinking that the house is seriously falling down around me. It is like I have unleashed a herd of elephants up there. The house shakes, shingles fall off the roof and I watch the structure of our house slowly weaken. If you consider that noise then I guess it is loud.
How do you keep track of them all– Well, usually it is by sound. It is not unusual to hear strange noises, or banging in the house. This is how we know everything is alright. If they were quiet alarms in my head start to go off. I then must immediately locate every child for a spontaneous roll call. It is important to understand context, though. One day I said, “stop chasing your brother with a knife.” Now, you might think that I have lost all control. But, the knife was a toy knife for a game and his brother was, well his brother. Ok, you got me there. I also overheard the other day “hey, go get something sharper.” My wife and I looked at each other and wondered if we should check on them or just let it play itself out. It worked itself out.
Do you have a strange disease– Sometimes people will keep their distance because they are either afraid of catching some sickness from the kids, or they are afraid that the kids are the sickness. Either way the answer is no. We have kids and they are just like other kids. If you are allergic to children you will be allergic to mine also.
So, what about you? What are some misconceptions that people without kids have about those with kids? I would especially like to hear from people who don’t have kids. What are some questions you have? We can try to understand each other because one day the kids will be gone and we will be ready to reconnect with the world. Help us out now and we just might hang out with you then.