Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Like Life, Only More So

I have a big family.

Actually, it's not all that big- I only have five siblings. I know people who have upwards of seven. That -to me- seems big; it's all about what you're used to, I s'pose.
Our family is a comfortable, cozy size. It's not too big, not too small.
But I'll admit that having eight people live under one roof is- well... it's an Experience (one of those Experiences that your parents always told you is Good For You because it Builds Character). It's something like life, only more so. Living with a large family is this:
Situation: Your younger sibling(s) clean your bathroom for you!
There are two possible outcomes:
A) Your younger brother (a mere baby of seven!) cleans your bathroom all by himself! You are sincerely shocked and rightly impressed; and being the kind-hearted older sister (also bent on instilling a strict sense of proper manners and etiquette into the younger members of the brood) that you are, you thank him profusely for cleaning your bathroom(Lesson to be gleaned: someone does something nice for you; you thank them.). The answer you get? "You're welcome. Try not to let it get messy again." And then you slink away, properly reprimanded and put in your place by the seven-year-old, with the eerily familiar words echoing in your ears. How many times have I said something like that to him? Better not think about it...
B) You swear that it's messier now than before they cleaned it. (This happened today. I'm positive the floor had less dust on it before than it did after the aspiring housewives' mini-rampage of cleaning.)
~

The secret to surviving a large household's organized chaos is to recognize that it will always be just that: loosely-held-together-semblance-of-organization-with-a-storm-brewing-underneath. Imagine that a hurricane and a tornado had a baby, fed it caffeine and equipped it with a vacuum cleaner and a lawn mower and then let it loose within our home. That's what "ordinary life" looks like. There's more than enough chaos, car-juggling, and carousing to go around. Making it through a family dinner without someone overturning a tumbler of milk is a cause for rejoicing. Family Dinner. Ah, that sacred, chaotic institution. Family Dinners are hilarious, sometimes conflict-ridden, noisy, and often an occasion to engage in "footsie" with your sibling across the table (but not near Father. "Stop! Are you playing footsie?! No footsie at the dinner table.")

And Family Dinner is always a garden of fresh 'n' spicy quotes.
Choice selections:
"Well, there goes your opportunity to be in a freakshow."-Dad

"My croutons have personality."-Sassy Salad Eater, age 9

"We're going to say an after-dinner prayer for those of us who are winners and not losers."-Dad

"When I grow up, I'm gonna take my kids to Noodles for lunch and Coldstone Creamery for dinner."-Young Dreamer, age 7

"Did you have the Common App when you were applying?"-Sincere Questioner
"Yes. But we had to send them around to all the different colleges on stegosauruses."-Sarcastic Father.

"We're the laughingstock of the neighborhood."-Astute Daughter, age 12

~

Large Families have really stellar communication skills. Example: Invalid and Recovering Mother needs Powerade. She tells Papa: "Sweetie, could you buy me some Powerade? Any flavor but grape." Papa sends Responsible(?) Teenage Son to buy the Powerade. Responsible (?) Teenage Son returns with a six-pack of grape Powerade.
How did this happen?
We'll never know.
Like I said, stellar communication skills.
Imagine a constant game of telephone being played amongst eight people. What starts as: "Will you take out the trash please, honey?" could end as "There's chocolate ice cream in the freezer. Help yourself to a bowl or two and when you're finished go and play some computer games for several hours. Bedtime doesn't exist anymore, so stay up all night if you want!" It's all about what you want to hear.

~

Once upon a time, the mini-kids went off on a play date. Being an awesome older sister, I packed them up with sunscreen, swimsuits, towels, and hats; and I prepared them two Tupperwares: one stuffed with watermelon, one full of brownies. Delicious, gooey, iced chocolate brownies. I stuck the Tupperwares in the fridge to keep them cool until time for the kids to depart. Their ride arrived, I grabbed the two Tupperwares, stuffed them in one of their tote bags, and sent them off with pride and accomplishment ringing in my ears. Who says I can't run this household? I'm the Best Older Sister EVER. Watermelon and brownies. I'm good. Oh I am goooood. Excuse me a few moments while I rest on these laurels. The next morning, I asked Newly-Minted Teen Sister if they brought the Tupperware home. “Oh yeah, we forgot one, but we brought one back.” Okay cool. And where are they? “We cleaned one. But Dad threw the potatoes out.” Ooookaaayyy non sequitur, much? I don’t know where the potato comment came from. ignore comment. Then, somehow in the ensuing conversation, the potatoes got mentioned again. And then I took pause. “Wait. Wait, Newly-Minted Teen Sister. The Tupperware you took was filled with potatoes?” “Yeah,” she responded matter-of-factly.
I packed them potatoes?
I packed them potatoes.
“I packed you POTATOES?!” “Yeah,” responded Newly-Minted Teen Sister, a little taken aback by my reaction, “we didn’t really know why you packed them. But we ate a lot of them. [Friend] really liked them.”
I’d packed them potatoes.
The potatoes in question were chopped and seasoned roasted potatoes family friends had given us two nights ago with a pot roast. And instead of packing the medium-sized circular Tupperware with the blue lid filled with brownies, I’d packed them the medium-sized circular Tupperware with the blue lid filled with potatoes.
And they ate them.
I couldn't stop laughing. “Whaaaat?” asked a puzzled Newly-Minted Teen. I explained that I meant to pack them the brownies, and she started laughing, too. And didn't stop. Was she laughing with me or at me? Debatable. Was I laughing with me or at me? Couldn't tell.
There I was, was feeling sooo goood about myself, too: Model Mother, Superwoman, Housekeeper Supreme, etc., etc. I had self-anointed myself all those titles and more.
And then I packed them potatoes.
Who does that in real life?
Bonus Question:
And what was more ridiculous: that I'd accidentally packed the kids potatoes or that they didn't question the fact that I'd packed them potatoes?

Welcome to my world. Hashtag winning.

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