Disclaimer – I am writing this during the second week of the Easter holidays. My patience is limited and may have an influence on what I am about to write.
I’ve written before about how laid back and chilled my youngest son is. My eldest was a tearaway toddler and utterly exhausting. His younger brother was a dream toddler. He did as he was told, he NEVER threw a tantrum. Not even during the terrible twos. He was sweet and affectionate and lovely to be around. Clearly we had nailed this parenting lark! The mistakes we made as new parents we had learnt from and clearly we knew exactly what we were doing.
Idiots. That’s what we were.
When we found out we were expecting our third child, we had parents of three or more kids telling us it really wasn’t that much different to having two children. That the transition from one to two children was far trickier than two to three.
They lied. I think we were subjects of a prank. An elaborate ruse to get us to join their exclusive club of three or more kids: Families Of Oversized Litters (FOOLs). After all there’s strength in solidarity. Misery likes company!
As FOOLs ourselves, I thought I would offer our honest assessment of having three kids.
It’s very easy to spot a FOOL when you’re out and about. The parents will be outnumbered and will probably look harassed and dishevelled. Approach with caution. If there is only one parent, do not approach at all (unless you are providing a helping hand, comforting word or gin.)
This particularly applies to street sellers. You know who you are, trying to sign us up to Sky or BT while we’re out trying to get our shopping done. Do not approach a FOOL unless you want to be told where you can shove your little leaflet. Use some common sense. Is the lady with the manic eyes constantly looking around to check she still has all three children, your ideal customer? Is she going to stop and chat pleasantly while her children all run in separate directions? No. Don’t do it.
Somewhere you probably won’t spot FOOLs is inside nice hotels. Most hotels don’t cater for families with more than two kids. Once you are a FOOL you may be lucky and find that odd hotel that can squeeze you all in, but on the whole prepare yourself for holidays in lodges or caravan parks. Or, alternatively, no holidays at all.
That fancy restaurant that has just opened nearby? FOOLs won’t go there. It’s not suitable for children and trying to find someone who will babysit your three little angels is like trying to plait fog. Not gonna happen.
If you visit the home of a FOOL, you will notice that only one room can be tidy at any one time. One area will be tidied while the children simultaneously destroy another room in record timing.
There’s no point having a home full of cute little trinkets. They will be covered in sticky little finger marks, or just broken completely. Every surface of every room will be covered in toys, felt tip pens and kids books.
The washing pile will be never ending. I haven’t seen the bottom of my wash basket since early 2009.
Parents of three or more will consider themselves less as caregivers, and more as referees. Not a day goes past without some kind of disagreement. “He’s looking at me.” “He’s breathing too loud”. “She’s wiping snot on my toys”. All classic lines heard in our house. Parents of FOOLs will find it impossible to pee, eat or shower in peace. The minute it looks like you might have a moment to yourself, the kids will appear with a problem or a story to tell.
We only have two hands, but we also only have two ears. How do you listen to all three kids at once? What do you do when your toddler is crying because you won’t let her eat chalk, while your youngest son wants to tell you about his new drawing and your eldest wants help with his homework? Other than the obvious choice of locking yourself in a cupboard until your husband comes home from work.
Want a nice sleek sporty car? Tough. As FOOLs you will have to drive what can only be described as a tank, to ensure it’s big enough to fit in three car seats. It will drink petrol and cost a fortune but that’s the price you pay for a car that fits in half a football team.
The average FOOL will never have any money. There’s always something to pay for. New shoes, clothes after a growth spurt, school trips, after school activities. Days out require a remortgage of your house to cover the entry fee for you all.
Being a FOOL is a costly and quite frankly exhausting lifestyle choice.
But it’s not all bad. There’s always someone willing to give you a hug, just when you’re needing it the most. There’s someone to make you laugh, who will enjoy your silly jokes. There’s someone to cuddle up to as you watch Disney movies on the couch.
You may never have any money, or a spare moment to yourself, but you learn what it means to be truly rich. Your house may be filled with toys and grubby finger marks, but it’s also filled with love and laughter.
I’m proud to be a FOOL.