My house is always interesting, never dull….having 5 kid does this to a house.  Even though 2 of them are practically grown and have their own lives, there is something about being one of five that creates a dynamic that is ever working, no matter what number of children are present.  The other interesting thing about the five-kid dynamic is that when other kids come over, they quickly join in the crazy, yet controlled chaos of that same dynamic.  Good times, I tell ya…good times!

The other day my mom came to visit, she was on her way from NC to NH.  So she made a top at my brother’s house to see Josie, my brother’s baby, and then came here to see my clan.  She arranged for my other brother’s children, two boys, to come over and visit too!  Let me set the stage….

It was my first day vertical and dressed in real clothes and I was excited to see my nephews, Oliver and Spencer.  Around one o’clock they arrived and Spencer came in first, my mom had hit a little traffic, but would be there in a few….phew, cuz’ I’m not supossed to lift anything over 8-1o pounds and Oliver is definitely over that!   So…in walks Spencer.  “Hey bud, how are you?”  I say.   And with a furrowed brow, turned upper lip, in a not too happy tone he replies “Noni (my mom) was gonna be here, she’s not here!”   You have to have a thick skin around kids or you’re toast!  And so I said, very maturely say  “what the heck, what’s wrong with me?”  He smiled his adorable little crooked smile and we moved on.  Did I mention that it was  98 degrees and humid…oh….and I don’t have air-conditioning…important fact!  It was hot….and that kind of heat makes people…well…a wee bit cranky.

In the fifteen minutes it took for Noni to arrive, my poor sister-in-law, Erin, had to deal with a clingy one-year-old, Oliver, who was onto the fact that she was going to leave AND an almost 4-year-old who had an accident in his underwear….frustrating!  I remember the days of potty-training….it aint fun!!  Nor is it EVER fun to have a hot, sticky child stuck to your body when it’s TWO THOUSAND degrees out, especially when you are headed out for a job interview.  And there I sat, not being able to lend a hand because I can’t lift or bend over…..HURRY UP NONI!!  Talia found the scene  better than an episode of Phineus and Ferb.  Talia’s days are mostly quiet until 3pm, when the teenaged-monsters, uh…I mean girls get home, so this much action in the early afternoon was very entertaining for her!  We found Spencer a pair of Talia’s undies, blue and green with cute mini frogs on the rear in the shape of a peace sign…haha…hey….peace is not gender specific and they were BLUE and GREEN!

Noni arrived, Erin left, Oliver cried for a bit and then recovered and Spencer wanted to paint!  Out came the paint and within minutes he was painting his hands, which I thought was cute.  Talia wanted in on the fun and apparently, thought being in underpants was part of the fun!   So….there the two of them sat, in girl undies, painting.  It was peaceful…ahhh.  Oliver was being doted upon, Talia and Spencer were occupied and my mom and I could carry on a conversation….that folks is no small feat!   We were living in harmony….UNTILTHEY entered the picture.  Who is they you ask?  They….a.k.a. Ryleigh and Olivia….teenagers….two hot, sticky, been-in-school-all-day, cranky, hormonal, it’s-all-about-me, fighting teenagers….let the DRAMA begin!  It is funny…I can actually gauge how my day, beyond 3pm, will be by the way the girls get off the bus.  I either hear the wonderful sounds of laughter and the sharing of stories from their day (which I adore) OR  I hear the high-pitched-nasty-tone of their fighting (me no likey).  On this particular day, my first day vertical, they were fighting!  Apparently, Ryleigh had infringed upon Olivia’s territory by texting one of Olivia’ friends about…well…who knows what…and it ticked Liv off.   SUPERhere we go!

For those of you who have teens or remember anything about being a teen, I know you feel the pain.  For those of you who have a selective memory and do not have teens, let me enlighten you…

Have you ever seen an action movie, where the star is being chased, but successfully outmaneuvering his/her predator?  You know the scene…the actor continually escapes the danger of a crossing car, a building collapse or other deadly encounters and when the actor is finally cornered, with what appears to be NO WAY OUT, there just so happens to be a body of water or a passing flat-bed truck filled with mattresses or cotton to carry him/her to safety.   The actor then smiles arrogantly up at his/her pursuers, as they reach the place where the actor was just thought to be cornered.   Meanwhile, there is a wake of destruction left in the path of the actor’s frantic flee.  That wake of destruction, my friend’s, is what it is like to be with hot, sticky, been-in-school-all-day, cranky, hormonal,it’s-all’about-me,  fighting teenagers.  I will spare you all the gory details, but it was awful, as it always is…..Ryleigh was reduced to inconsolable tears, while Liv stomped around in her righteous anger spewing her venom at Ryleigh.  Well, as you can imagine, I was distracted with the drama!  I was trying to be helpful, trying to teach my children conflict resolution, trying to guide them in a productive conversation about what each of them was really upset about…can you tell I have had therapy…lol??   In any case, after 20 minutes of hearing them snipe at each other, I yelled and told them to knock it off, before I KNOCK IT OFF FOR YOU….there is simply NO reasoning with those people!   Right on queue, they both looked at me with their puzzled look, as if I had three heads and a million arms….to which I replied…DON’T YOU LOOK AT ME THAT WAY or I will strip you clean of all your amenities at Camp Lisa….so HUH….TAKE THAT!    You see, it is very difficult to rise above such destructive chaos and often times, no matter how much I do the self-pep-talk of how to handle it better the next time, because you can bet your sweet arse there is going to be a next time, I, more often than not, succumb to the gravitational pull that reduces me to their level!  As I said before...good times!

Now, let’s not forget, before the ‘oh-so-fun-to-be-around teens’ arrived, we were all in harmony, and as you remember…Talia and Spencer were painting in their undies.  Small children are intelligent….cunning…for at the precise moment that they discovered I was distracted….they decided to paint their bodies!  And now friends…it is officially a  PARTY!!   My first reaction was…crap, I hope I gave them the washable  paint and my second was to the sprinkler!   Outside we went, sprinkler went on and two girls-underwear-clad children ran through the sprinkler and I discovered that, I had in fact, given them the washable paint…woot woot!  Fast forward a bit….Talia and Spencer are clean, the girls have agreed to quietly ignore each other (the threat of having ALL technological gadgets stripped away always works) and Oliver was happy.   There was once again peace in my Kingdom.  UNTIL….My mom and I discovered that Oliver had pooped, no problem right….yep, no problem…IF YOU HAVE A CLEAN DIAPER, which we didn’t….sigh.   So there we were, my mother and I, parental experience of raising 8 children between us, folding a dish towel and fastening it with scotch tape to my nephew.  I will say only this….dish towels are not as absorbent as a cloth diaper, not even close!

The funny part of all of this is that my days are, more often than not, just like this day….it’s that 5 kid thing.  What I have learned and continue to learn is that life is hectic…it’s inevitable….so….very often we must CHOOSE  our joy, even amongst the chaos, even in the wake of destruction….we can always choose to find the humor, the lesson, the peace and hopefully, the joy in life.  It is not always easy, but it is always possible.

Have a great weekend everyone!!!!