Six kids. One roof.
8 weeks, 11 weeks, 2, 4, 5, and 6 years.
There is no way to describe week nine other than chaos. Pure, unadulterated chaos.
We had the pleasure of my sister and the kids visiting from Sunday to Thursday, and included in their luggage is a guaranteed bag o’ chaos.
As a primo example, towards the close of the first full day of the ruckus, both infants had wails and tears pouring out of them while one brother bit the other, eliciting more screams and tears, and the two year old princess proceeded to pee directly on the bathroom floor (Why? “Because I like to pee on the floor.” How do you argue with that logic?). At the same time. A complete overload.
To offer one more example, my sister felt it would be a good idea to leave Little Dude and my newest nephew alone with the Dude while the rest of the gaggle went around the corner to play. “Both are sleeping. Nothing to worry about.”
Really? How long do you think that slumber will last once all scent of mommy vacates the building? Right, long enough for them to be out of screaming distance.
I wrestled with two screaming infants for 25 minutes, and I use the term “infant” very loosely. I can handle Little Dude, and he does resemble an infant. However, The Intimidator, he is a completely different story.
These infants are nineteen days apart, but on the growth chart they are 75 percentage points apart, 25% to 95%! Can an infant intimidate a grown man?
Simple answer, yes. I consider myself a strapping young man (sounds like something my grandmother would say), but this kid had my number for 25 minutes.
It was like wrestling a toddler. I love the swaddle. I swaddle Little Dude and put him out in minutes. The Intimidator kicked out of my tightly constructed swaddle before I could pick him up. And before he commenced his true scream, I think he laughed at me…in my face. Then he proceeded to scream with the low radio voice of Cassey Cassum. I swear this 11 week old baby had a deeper voice than me.
In between my prayers and walking from one end of the house to the other, Little Dude would chime in with his own scream fest. They fed off each other for 25 minutes.
Chaos tends to have a negative connotation, and these tales seem to lend credence to that negative perspective, but chaos isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Chaos theory is an intriguing school of thought that weaves an intricate mosaic of mathematics, physics, economics and philosophy to develop a theory of behavior for dynamic systems that are highly sensitive to seemingly insignificant conditions I.E. the “butterfly effect,” where the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Africa is theorized to make a considerable impact in the development of weather conditions across the globe.
This understanding of chaos can hardly be considered negative. It draws a complicated network of connections from the irrelevant to the significant. It brings an intense focus to average events. It forces us to live in the “now,” and pay attention to the variety of stimulus and activity occurring around us at all times. The majority of spiritual practices seem to point towards this same focus. Hardly negative.
Otherwise, if we neglect to appreciate the mundane, minor actions will have much larger, potentially detrimental, effects.
That’s right, I just tied mathematics, physics, economics, philosophy, spirituality, and parenting together under a single theory. That adds a lot more importance to week nine.
But, it makes sense. With six kids running around, every action becomes important. Every decision plays a role in how the next decision will play out.
Technically, this is true for every decision we ever make, but life with six kids is far less forgiving than “normal life.” Every decision needs to be executed to perfection or you’ll pay the price, which is usually a crying, diaper filled baby that can’t be calmed or an explosion of glitter that covers the floor like Times Square on January 1. Either one not the end of the world, but definite speed bumps that lead to increased chaos with six rug rats running the show.
“Living in the now,” and “going with the flow” become necessary requirements. As The Dude wisely bestowed in The Big Lebowski, the Dude abides.
Abiding is the only way to survive in chaos.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
The population at Casa de Dude consisted of six kids, the Dude and the Mrs., my sister, and her au pair. My brother-in-law stayed home to work (Wink, wink. You’re welcome for the vacation), so the Dude was the sole hombre of the casa.
This is a tough line to walk. Dude of the house, fun uncle, and peaceful warrior abiding every minor step of the way. Is it possible to maintain such a focus?…without an elevated level of stress?
Mrs. Dude thinks I’m a different person when the chaos ensues. She’s probably right. Maintaining an increased level of alertness requires a different frame of mind. But with practice, stress dissipates and relaxation grows.
I tend to handle the chaos of two better than the chaos of six, but the exposure is developing my tolerance. I watch my sister’s level of calm patience with every minor explosion, and I realize how much she is controlling the chaos. If she allowed her butterfly wings to flutter aggressively with every tiny issue, the chaos would be pushed down the road of destruction rather than fun very quickly.
This tolerance takes time to develop, but it’s great to feel the calluses of parenting growing on the fabric of the Dude’s daily existence. This tolerance and attention to detail are great habits to develop. They will pay dividends as the kids grow…and as we visit with family more and more.
Little Dude embraced this attitude throughout week nine. He has shown an increased level of peace and tranquility. He handled six kids without any increased level of stress.
Although, he did get his two month vaccinations on Friday which led to the need for increased comforting for a couple days, but the peace and tranquility seem to be habits that are sticking around. I guess the Dude has a lot to learn from Little Dude too.