Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Such Blessings!

As the father of so many children, there are things said to me that most other parents might not hear. For example, on telling my mostly aged clients that I have seven boys and a girl, the men can rarely resist that hilarious question – “Haven’t you figured out what causes that yet?!?!” Ha ha ha ha! Hadn’t heard that one before, Wilbur! I wonder what Wilbur’s response would be if I were to respond, “No, I haven’t. Can you explain it to me?” Somehow, I imagine that Wilbur might be less interested in enlightening me – at least I hope so.

One also can’t overlook the oft-repeated declaration, nearly always by the darling, blue-haired ladies who’ve obviously forgotten what it’s like to visit the grocery store accompanied by any number of children, let alone seven – “Oh look! You have all your little helpers with you!” Lady, you and your blue rinse better get out of my way before I run you down with my shopping cart. So far, my little “helpers” have broken a family-sized jar of spaghetti sauce on aisle five, shoplifted three packs of gum and… I don’t even know where two of them are.

I can’t forget, as hard as I try too, the obviously deluded woman who followed me from aisle to aisle at the local Walmart. Passing her on the freezer aisle I was able to overhear her tell another passerby, “Now there’s a real dad!” Well, that was rather nice, I thought. I’ll stop trying to run down my six year old now. He really isn’t being that annoying with that giant Dora the Explorer ball he’s bouncing. On the next aisle, I was less convinced by her breathless, “Aren’t they precious!” Finally, in our third encounter she stopped me and asked, “Do you know what the Bible says about children?” “Uh, not exactly. I guess God likes them?” “It says that they are the arrows in God’s quiver!”, she said tremulously, looking heavenward. It was only then that I really noticed that one of her eyes was looking the other way.

As my wife knows, almost entirely through vicarious experience, shopping with the kids is a chore to be avoided. Therefore, she avoids it. The problems with this are many, though. First, because there are so many of them, trips to the store are frequent. Since our refrigerator only holds eight gallons of milk, we have to head back at least once every couple of days. And then, after spending the equivalent of a small country’s annual defense budget, once three days have passed, there is, as my daughter will moodily inform me, “Nothing to eat!” And, naturally, she is STARVING. There is the option of going to the store after they’ve all gone to sleep, but the prospect of going to a 24-hour grocery store at 2 am is less than exciting. So, I continue to do it. Me, the kids and the grocery store.

Finally, yes, as I am reminded almost as often as I hear the line about my little helpers, children are such blessings! I would suggest, however, that the next time you share this little bit of inspiration with someone, you choose a different time and place. About to spend half my monthly income to feed the screaming infant climbing out of my cart and his seven surly siblings – I’m going to find it hard to believe you could possibly be serious.

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