Monday, March 03, 2008

The Wild One

Sally is looking more like a feral child by the day. I'm talking full on Nell, except with a better vocabulary.

(Well, marginally better.)

As I formulate this post in my head (but way, way before I will get the chance to actually type it out), Sally is sitting in her high chair with an English muffin. She's not eating it; that would be too prosaic, too pedestrian. She is using it as a powder puff and rubbing its jellied veneer all over her cheeks and forehead.

Then she licks it, and proceeds to rub it across the front of her shirt. I'm guessing that she's finished with it.

It used to be that I would have never let an English muffin be abused in such a way. I would have taken it from her tray and eaten it myself cleaned her up before the jelly got to her hair.
I would have changed her into a new outfit and pre-treated her stains on the first one.

Now? Well, I'm not going to lie to you. She will wear the same jellied shirt all day, and I don't pre-treat anything anymore. (I can't even bring myself to admit the shameful science fair experiment that met me in the laundry room today. All I can say is that I had to throw some things away. Oh, the horror . . .)

Gone are the days of Francie, the Only; the days of matching tops and bottoms, with coordinating hairbows. Even the less coordinated, though still very clean, days of Francie and Fiver are gone.

And why? Because Sal's the third one, and the third child is where you crest the hill and hit the downward slide. Three is where, to quote The Greatest American Hero, you are operating pretty much on a wing and a prayer.

Ask anyone with more than two children, and they will tell you that things start to go a little haywire with the third one. Some may disagree, and swear that it is the second one who does it, but I am here to tell you the truth, my friends: The HomeFront Corp. took it on the chin with Number Three.

I don't know why it is, because I certainly don't remember feeling like having two kids was a cakewalk. Heck, I remember being overwhelmed at times by Francie alone, but bringing home our third baby was like throwing a nine pound monkey wrench into the cogs of the family machine. We've recovered, just with a lesser degree of decorum. If that's at all possible.

With two children, I still felt like I had a good hold of most situations, and I mean that in the literal sense. If worse came to worse (and it usually did), I knew that I had at least one hand for each child. I became an expert at tucking each one under an arm and heading for the nearest exit like a broken-field runner.

With three, I simply ran out of arms. No matter how full my hands were, I knew that there was always a free agent on the loose that I could do nothing to deter.

For me, the bump up to three kids was a little like finding out there is a skunk living under your deck: sometimes there is nothing you can do until you get some back-up. Or some professional help. Either way.

I've been pleasantly surprised to find that bringing Bun home did not require nearly as much juggling as bringing Sally home. I have learned to turn a blind eye to anything that does not require medical attention. Or a fire extinguisher. (That means the matching outfits and cute accessories were some of the first things to go.)

I don't mean to imply that having three children is unmanageable or frightening or terrible. I'm not trying to scare those people who are pregnant with their third or contemplating a third addition. If you're thinking about it, then I say, yeah baby! go for it! Sally has added immeasurable joy to our family. If you're already pregnant, then it's too late to worry about it anyway. It will do you no good now, and remember: Sally has brought immeasurable joy.

I'm just saying that it really helps if, in the midst of all that joy, you don't care what they look like. For a little while anyway.

13 comments:

  1. ROFL! That is all very true. In my case, with a 6-year gap before Little Brother, you'd think I'd have had time to get it back together. But no. As long as he was dressed appropriately for the weather, and nothing was going on that could potentially kill someone, it was all good.

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  2. This post coming from the lady whose children were all in clean, tidy, cute clothes when JB & I dropped by (for what I believe may have been an unannounced visit). I think we need a picture of big sister's new pic diva glasses! (that incidentally perfectly matched her outfit!)

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  3. PS - who cares what sort of dirty clothes Sally is wearing when she's sitting in her high chair blowing kisses to everyone in the room :) soooo cute!!!

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  4. I am with you there. Except I have never been good at pre-treating (who knew banana would stain so badly?) and Primo ALWAYS had a dirty face. I think it's sort of expected with boys that they have a dirty face. It's cute on a boy. With a dirty-faced girl, people wonder about mom.

    I hope this is coherent. I'm not sure. It's almost midnight. I may have to delete this comment in the morning.

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  5. Grin!! It's too true. I'm just too tired to care anymore. I'm glad the kids all wear uniforms to school - one less thing.

    Immeasurable joy - that's just too small a word to describe it, ya know?

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  6. Someone once told me that once you have two, it doesn't matter how many you have. I was most disappointed when number three came along and I found out that was not true. Two was peachie - one in a Snuggly and one perfectly groomed little guy by the hand. It didn't help that number three was a redhead and yes, the stories about redheads are true!

    I agree, with number four, we just glided!

    Have a great day!

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  7. Marguerite9:15 AM

    You hit the nail on the head-only since #3 is the Princess with a capital P it is #1-Pony girl who will wear the same thing for days on end-if she did not have to get dressed for school she would never leave her pjs.(of course it doesn't help that I never want to leave my pjs either:))

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  8. This is one of the many, many reasons we're glad to be blessed with Downs for our 4th child. He's already got a strike against him so we feel forced to be sure he's clean, well dressed and lookin' good. It's a good thing because our 3rd looked like a waif and I fear our 4th never would have gotten out of sleepers until, um, now.

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  9. GeeGee10:41 AM

    I can't imagine life without my precious, beautiful Sally...the only person who gives me a better "stink-eye" is her aunt JuJu, who, coincidentally is my #3
    By the way, you will have many more English muffin days. In fact, they never end...always love her, no matter what...

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  10. You must be a natural nurturer for Sally to have such a well-developed imagination and level of creativity to initiate pretend play with such unusual, yet surprisingly appropriate tools at-hand.

    Sounds like you've found the right attitude and frame of mind. What is a little mess or a few stains compared to immeasurable joy?!

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  11. Oh, no. I'm an anomaly. I thought going from 1 to 2 was harder than 2 to 3. Maybe because there was 3 years between 1 and 2, and #1 had a terrible time coming to the realization that the world did not revolve around him. #2 and #3 are only 15 months apart and I felt that I was already in that baby/no sleep mode.

    This post and comments almost make me think maybe #4 wouldn't be so bad. Almost but not quite.

    Aimee- hope you are getting some sleep!

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  12. Big LOL! Five years ago we adopted three little girls from Ukraine. We had no other kids (other than the one I was also pregnant with), and it was a shock to me that I could not corral them all. I simply could not. No way around it. Two of them might have been doable,like you said, you have enough hands for two, but more than that....you are just helpless to watch them run away.........

    Yeah, good times.

    Good luck!!

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  13. Anonymous1:39 AM

    Well...so true. And let me tell you, as the so wonderfully documented #3 of our own illustrious mother, being the third can be quite hard at times too. Its kind of hard to really know your place in the family...there's the oldest, the oldest male, and the baby, and then there's, y'know, #3. The one who does something a little off the wall and everyone gives a raised eyebrow too. But hang in there, we #3's don't turn out badly at all. Look at me! Lol, and Miss Sally...you go honey! You and Aunt Juju will have our own secret #3 language and give the patented stink-eye to anyone who dare cross us!

    Love to all! Juju

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