The Hard Cap: Part II

Friday, October 25, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

Too catch yourself up, Part I can be found here.  Sometimes I like to wait months or even years before writing the second part to a series.  It's called suspense people, take notes!

When we last left our (anti-) hero, I was at a psychology conference in San Diego visiting my long lost friend Eric, his wife, and their three kids.  All of Eric's kids are beautiful, and I'm not just saying that to avoid an angry email from his wife.  Ages 2, 5, and 7(ish) at the time of my visit, I had an absolute blast alternating between pillow fights, iPhone games, and Cheerio feedings.   But what I'm here to tell you is that having 3 kids is absolute insanity.  It. Is. Insanity.

When you have three kids, even parents who stay together are outnumbered.  There is always an empty set of outstretched arms waiting to be picked up, both literally and metaphorically.  Life becomes a perpetual whack-a-mole of children's needs.  I'm not sold on having kids.  But if I do have kids, I've always entertained the possibility of raising siblings.  Perhaps simply as a function of having a sibling myself (and marrying a women with one sibling), I've never set in my mind that it was either no kids or one kid.  

But here's the thing ladies and gentlemen, and I'm putting it in writing, under no circumstances will I father more than two children (triplets aside).  There is an absolute hard cap at two

One night that I was in San Diego, we all went out to dinner.  One set of grandparents in tow, we rolled up to a Ground Round-like dinner joint around 5 pm.   Maybe 5:30.  As you might imagine, at this early stage in the evening the place was deserted, save for a few elderly couples and one other large family.  We were promptly seated at a long wooden table, and the kids were given crayon and menus to draw on.

Thus began Act One of The Loudest Dinner in Human History.  Once again, it's important for you to understand that these are in no way bad kids.  And, with the additional added arms of Grams and Gramps, the situation was never out of control.  But the simple physics of three children in a foreign dining situation is an extremely cacophonous, not to mention wiggly, event. 

fyi.  friends' kids not pictured

There was only one mini-tantrum.  A mere 15 to 20 seconds of true unbridled shrieking.  No big thing.  One of my favorite parts of this, Act Two, was how utterly nonplussed the serving staff was about the miniature person turning crimson whilst turned her volume up to 11.  It was pretty obvious that this was the kinda thing that literally happened every day round these parts.  It was equally obvious who the new guy working at the restaurant was, identified easily by his characteristic running around with milk glasses and small bags of French fries as if he were headed to defuse a bomb.

"I can fit the whole train in my mouth!"
Adult conversation was never an option.  Two sentences into any substantive story, and you would almost certainly be met by some form of food projectile crossing your field of vision.  And so the eight of us sat there, half the time eating, half the time keeping the peace, until slowly the food disappeared from the table.  As the kids settled into their special Kid's Meal desserts, the credits began to roll on this family night out on the town.  

"But, I can fit an even BIGGER train in MY mouth!"
I know that for many of you the gut reaction here is to believe that I'm lying in regard to how well behaved my friend's kids are.   And that is kind of my point.  These children are 'normal', funny, smart, outgoing, well-adjusted, sweet little kids.  Their 5-year-old son still occasionally steals his father's phone to text me a quick hello.  (And my heart grows 2 sizes when he does.) But there are three of them.  In the same way that the third juggling pin causes the whole equation to become perpetually in flux; having three kids is like juggling 7 pins that are covered in food, and screaming, and need to be changed.  On the really tough days, it feels like someone set all the pins on fire.

Often when I go out of my way to open a door for a mother attempting to grab a coffee whilst wrangling her herd of offspring, I get the response, "Oh, you must be a parent!"  When I tell them I'm not, they are dumbfounded.  They simply can't imagine how someone without kids themselves could appreciate how difficult raising them IS (none of this 'can be' bullshit)!  Well I'm here to tell you that raising one child is practically impossible.  Raising two kids is a life's work.  And having three or more kids is just plain bat-shit crazy.  So recognize and give props.  

For the record, there is also no such thing as "good and bad children."

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