There sure is a lot to love about life. One of the things I really love about my life is the lives who touch it. To whit, I am going through this life with my lovely bride Cassandra, who said just the other day that I am not insane, which I thought was very nice of her.
The Senita family is full of people whose lives touch mine, and I am very thankful for that. It’s rare to find quality people with compatible insanity — despite the fact that I am not insane. The Senita clan is just such a group.
Made up of Tracy, Paul, Jessica, and Jacob, the Senitas are as solid and lovely a family as you could hope to find.
We met a couple of years ago because our kids go to the same school. Over time, we have sort of become each other’s extended family. I’m writing this about an hour before the kids are all due home. Once here, I’m going to take them all to the library to get new library cards and insist that the boy get a book with a narrative instead of panels.
But here’s a thing I’ve noticed about these kids. The more of them there are, the dumber they get. It’s not like three kids equals three brains. It’s more like three kids equals one-third of a brain, shared between them.
It’s enough to make anybody — especially us, their parents — positively insane. Take getting ready for school, for instance. The Senita twins spent the night last night, so it was up to me to get them up and ready for the day. And despite having done this every weekday for the last seven years or so, they somehow had absolutely no idea that in order to go to school, they had to have shoes on their feet.
If it were just that, it’d be fine. We’d laugh and move on to the next thing.
But that’s not it. Not by a long shot.
It’s that you have to say, “put your shoes on,” about 12 times. And you have to say, “eat,” 14 times. And you have to say, “get your backpack,” six times. And you have to say, “get your jacket,” nine times. Per kid. And then one of them forgets a lunch or — and I’m not kidding — shoes.
Want to know who’s better at life than my seventh-graders? That’s right: the 12-pound Lucy π.
Her brain is about 0.12 pounds. Yet she knows that if I say, “go out side, go pee-pee,” that means she gets a pit stop, and I only have to say it once. She knows that if I grab the little harness thing, she has to hop up and put her legs through it if she wants to go for a walk. She knows that in the morning, she needs to go outside to pee and that I had probably better feed her.
In short, she knows what is necessary to continue on with her day and she only requires telling once.
And I’ll have you know that if I had to repeat every damn thing in the world to her, the way I do with the kids, I’d get rid of her.
God, it would be really great sometimes to get rid of the kids.
I don’t understand why they’re like this. In general, I’m little more than a an overgrown kid myself, so I remember what it was like to be a kid. I don’t remember this part. I remember plenty of other stuff, like waking up in the morning. Or, rather, not waking up.
What I remember is two things. First, I remember being bone tired. It was too early to get up. I also remember positively dreading school. Sleeping was preferable to school, plus I could avoid school via sleep. And lastly, I remember it being a bit of a contest between me and my dad. He needed me to get up in the morning and I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I think he tipped my bed over once and looking back, I richly deserved it.
Friend Chris designed and was banned from building a bed frame that would tilt his step-kid out of bed. As a former horrible little cuss and current parent, I think it’s a great idea. I don’t think it would work but the stories you’d get out of it would be amazing.
By the way, it’s not like any of us are bad parents. It’s not like we let them get away with whatever they want, nor is it like we don’t give them plenty of freedoms and rewards. All the kids have chores, all of them have homework, and all of them have done the exact same things to get ready since kindergarten.
And it’s not like the kids are stupid. They’re not. The girl twin is clever and reads like crazy. The twin boy is at least one year ahead in math. My own kid’s critical thinking skills are through the roof.
They’re like Abe Lincoln — he was the handsomest ugly guy or the ugliest handsome guy ever, and they’re the smartest dumb kids I know. Maybe they’re the dumbest smart kids I know.
Here’s the worst part: I’ve got no idea how to fix the problem and that’s rough for me. I’m really good at fixing problems, but this is a total mystery to me. How do you make a kid see the light and adjust a behavior when you’ve already explained it literally a quadrillion times, when, over the last seven years, you’ve built incentives and detriments?
The answer is, of course, that there is no answer. If my own childhood is any indication, they are old enough to know that their parents are 100% stupid and have exactly zero applicable life experience so they’ll continue, well, if not fighting like crazy, they certainly won’t actually improve the situation. Some day, though, they’ll apologize to us the way this entire essay is an apology to my parents. I’d say that I, for one, got the kid(s) I deserve, and I love them no less for that. In fact, I believe I probably love them more.