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Published November 23, 2010, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Minivan is full, so is life

Frequently, my household is faced with the reality of being a five-kid family in a two-kid world.

Frequently, my household is faced with the reality of being a five-kid family in a two-kid world.

For instance, a recent newspaper ad for a “family special” at a local bowling alley promised four pairs of bowling shoes, a single-topping pizza and pitcher of soda for just $19.95.

I imagined the scene: We’ve each got bowling shoes on one foot and socks on the other (with an extra shoe for a friend if they fit into the minivan). Assuming our teen son reaches the pizza first, we’ll get some crust. As for the pop, Dixie cups anyone?

Perhaps the ad should read, “Family Special (for ideal-sized families).”

In restaurants everywhere, announcements abound with “kids eat free” specials. But enter the fine print: “… with accompanying adult meal.” I’m tempted to borrow three extra adults so we can take advantage of the offer just once.

When stopping in the fast-food lane, I’ve taken to prefacing our orders with, “This will be big,” in the hopes of decreasing the high frequency of bags with missing items, not to mention teardrops from children already feeling slighted from having to split their fries.

Speaking of food issues, recently a friend was bemoaning her husband’s tendency to hoard and hide food. “How many were in his family of origin?” I asked. “He was six of seven.”

Enough said.

In our home, Pop-Tarts and potato chips grow legs upon first touch down in our kitchen. The kids have learned that if they don’t act before their siblings do, they’ll be left without having nibbled a single Pringle.

Of course, we’re well aware we’ve set ourselves up. Having crossed the line of “normal-sized family,” consequences are inevitable. But a few perks also enter in.

Among those is planning birthday celebrations when we realize half the party already has an invitation. Or how we’re afforded a whole pew to ourselves at church. (We’ve also been credited for providing endless entertainment for the lucky souls sitting behind us.)

Recently, my husband expressed his satisfaction over having accepted our riches in people not things. And even though life in a large family can be a bit more of everything – including messy – there are also exponentially more chances to learn how to love, even if it’s through trial-by-fire.

Surviving it all as a parent requires an occasional attaboy, so lately Troy and I have been noting our successes by knocking each other’s knuckles in a sign of triumph. We follow this with our fingers cascading downward in a tandem motion dubbed “sparkles” by our teen daughter.

Yes, we’ve managed to do a few things right in our years together, so it seems as good a day as any on this, our 19th wedding anniversary, to say: “Happy anniversary, Hon, with knuckles and sparkles all around!”


Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, parent five children. She blogs on family life at http://peacegardenmama.areavoices.com.

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