Friday, May 05, 2006

Kids. Lots of kids.

We didn't plan it that way of course, but having three kids in quick succession is now quite a good thing. They are close enough in age to have a lot in common - they share the same experiences and cultural references. They like the same activities, the same movies, many of the same books. They squabble a lot naturally, but they also hang out together and help and support eachother.

When they were quite small though it was another story. All the usual trials and life events are multiplied tremendously. Potty training, for example, in our family was a two year saga. If I concentrate I can pull out individual events (the child whose legs regularly went numb because it would get so interested in the book it was reading it wouldn't get up until someone went to find it; the child who figured out that sitting backwards on the toilet provided a handy book ledge...), but it's mostly one long memory. One unfortunate side-effect is that it's only fairly recently I've stopped asking people if they have to pee.

So, life was slightly frantic. But the brilliant thing, the really amazing thing about getting out of the army, was that suddenly we had time. We had no money, we had no space or peace or anything like that, but we had long stretches of time to spend together, time in which no one was going to make threats or demands. It felt fantastic, if a bit strange.

When the first child was born Kirk was in language school - an extremely high-pressure situation by itself without adding a new baby to the mix. With the second child we figured out that he had missed 9 months out of the first year of its life; when he came home from the field the poor baby would scream at the sight of him. He used to wrap the child up in a blanket and rock for hours while the struggling kid would sob and sob until it fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion. With the third one, after about six weeks Kirk suddenly turned to me: 'you know what? I actually like babies. I never knew that!'

He made up for lost time though. By the end of the year the two kids who could talk were able to sing the entire Bugs Bunny theme song, recite much of Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch, and could accurately signal a touchdown, false start, and unecessary roughness. Now that's good parenting.

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