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May 5, 2011 / sharoncopy

A mother of many

  Cheryl and I became great friends back when I had two children and she had one and we headed up to Green Lane to go swimming together in her 5 passenger car. Fast forward about 12 years, and the two of us packed 11 kids into a 12 passenger van (ok, so we double seat-belted two of them) and went to the $1.50 Village movie theater over in Hatboro together. When we went to the park, we were sometimes asked if we were a day care center. 

  One woman came up to me at the marvelous park down on Germantown Pike and Joshua Rd and said, “I’ve never even met anyone that had five children!” (This was before Amy came along.) People with smaller families couldn’t imagine how we could possibly manage with more.

  Well, first of all, I’d tell them that we were creating more taxpayers so that there would be sufficient support when we all get older. Then I’d tell them that it all comes down to discipline in the home, because when you have a bunch, you have to have discipline or you would go crazy.

  Here’s the thing that bothers me: movies like the newer “Cheaper by the Dozen” with Steve Martin, show a family where the kids run rampant and do crazy things and constantly get into trouble and the parents just kind of….expect it. That’s preposterous! I know lots of families with 6, 7, 8, 9, or even 10 children, and they are the most organized and efficient and disciplined families that I know. Oh, sure, the kids still squabble and disobey and try to get out of chores and do what kids always do (adults too, for that matter.) But I’ve seen worse behavior in smaller families because there often doesn’t seem to be an understanding of how to do it, or a knowledge that one can make one’s child behave (in most circumstances – some kids do defy reasoning.)  You have to have rules, and you have to watch the younger kids closely, even if it means painting a circle on the basement floor so that the toddlers can ride their little trikes around while you hang the laundry down there, or having your twin 2 and a half year olds help with the dishes by putting them into the water or taking them out of the sink. You have to “materially participate” as they say on the tax forms.

   Yeah, it’s a lot of work. But so rewarding.

  More to come….

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