It's almost Spring and I've missed 5 months of updates. I'm sorry-really, I am. I know there's that nation of fans out there hanging on to my every word and a world full of little people who have barely clung to life awaiting new words to chew on from me. Well, your wait is over. Here comes some new stuff.
We've had four birthdays in the past month, Carter, Sara, & Zane turned seven and Jess turned four.
It's hard to believe that seven whole years have passed since Jill and I began our adventures in parenting. I suppose it's been closer to eight years when you count gestation, but who's counting? Well, I am, that's who.
Three short years ago, I ran into the only other triplet dad I know, a wonderful fellow by the name of Elmer. We were at the YMCA and I was trying to corral my wild 4 year olds while carrying my wild 1 year old after my work out. Elmer was gathering his wild 7 year olds after their swim lesson.
I remember specifically the way my eyeballs were throbbing because Carter, Sara, and Zane were all going in different directions and Jess, who was just mastering standing, didn't want to be carried but was, at the same time, incapable of walking to the car.
I saw Elmer and said, in a voice that was way more desperate than I'd like to admit, "Does it get any easier when they're seven?" He said, blank-faced and weary-eyed in the way only multiples parents and those who have recently undergone shock treatments have, "No, not really."
It wasn't encouraging.
I was unsure how much more internal pressure my eyeballs could take before either exploding or just popping out of my skull and running away to escape the horror of high blood pressure and stress I was subjecting to them.
This tale is significant because Elmer plays a recurring role in my personal drama as a multiples parent.
When Jill was still gestating, we went to visit Elmer and his wife Kelley to see how they lived with their three year old triplet boys.
They showed us the boy's beds which had to be bolted to the floor in order to prevent the boys from stacking them up to play parachute. They showed us the locked closet doors where the boys dressers lived which had to be placed in the closet because they served as the platform by which the boys launched themselves onto the mattresses while playing parachute. The tour included a viewing of the multiple generations of wallpaper which had been torn off the wall, colored over, graffeteed on, and other wise abused and numerous other extreme looking barracades and battlements improvised to keep the triplets at bay.
There was one in particular which burned a hole in my head--the deadbolt on the outside of the boys' room. Elmer explained that they had to get it in order to keep the boys confined so they wouldn't sneak out in the middle of the night and go running out into the world and begin another crime spree.
We thought it all rather extreme until the Elmer and Kelley escorted us to the front door, and the boys seeing thier opportunity to escape, bolted out the bedroom, over a series of 4 foot gates, and out the front door before anybody could even react to the surprise secruity breach. One hitting freedom, the boys scattering wildly as their siblings and parents tried, mostly in vain, to retrieve them.
We drove home in silent terror. I eventually spoke to Jill saying, "I never want to go back to that house as long as I live."
Flash forward four years and I had grown to accept the seemingly insane things I saw at Elmer and Kelley's house as perfectly reasonable and rational solutions to the myriad of challenges we had faced in those four years. Multiples parents, a fairly pragmatic lot, must learn to adapt to the demands faced their children are toddlers, then pre-schoolers, and other ages where their physical and mental abilities are far more advanced than thier capability for good sense. Considering that I'm still struggling with the same struggle for good sense, I'm in no place to critisize. Still....
Elmer's three word response had a devastating effect on me that day. As I had reached out for some shred of hope, Elmer handed me a pissed off scorpion of an answer.
I cried all the way home. Not really, but I did consider dropping the Kids off at DHS and running away to join the French Foreign Legion or something else that, while dangerous, would probably be less stressful. Bullets and bombs seemed far easier than my life at that time.
Now, three years later here I am at the point where Elmer was when he gave me his grave assessment of my future. I realize now that he was only partially correct.
See, things don't get really ever get easier. Life with multiples is always, to put it politely, "a challenge."
However, things do change. The things that were hard 3 years ago have gone away and been replaced by new hard things.
For example, they don't run off anymore in public. I can go to the grocery and feel certain that they will not wander off too much farther than I can keep up with. On the other hand, at age seven, they are full blown consumers so being able to concentrate on my shopping list while fending off a constant barrage of requests to buy stuff I'm not ever going to buy for them is a challenge. How many different ways can one respond to a pleading request from your child like, "Daddy, can I have this 30-06 sniper rifle? Please, Please, Pleeeeeeze? I promise I won't shoot anybody who doesn't have it coming..."
Also, it's always surprising how passing through various developmental stages doesn't always bring predictable changes. Potty training is, obviously a big one. However, that gives way to the "Daddy, come wipe me" stage is almost as distatefull and lasts almost as long.
Getting past the buckling the seatbelt stage is HUGE, but then that is replaced with the battles for who is first in the car or who can cause the longest bottleneck at the car door, or who can do whatever to make somebody else the maddest at anytime.
Then, of course, they start school and all the evil influences they are exposed to from their classmates are thrown into the behavioral stewpot. Other people's children are, by nature, evil and destined to try and undermine all the values and behaviors you have labored so carefully to cultivate in them.
Well, it could be worse. I could be in prison. Ok, make that in prison with my children--prison by itself might not be so bad.