Once in awhile, I am able to step back from my role as mom, ring-leader, commander of our home, teacher, disciplinarian, house cleaner, cook, and hostess and see our family from an outsider’s view…life in a big family is beginning to seem ‘normal’ to Dave and I now, so I was really struck by my ‘normal’ evening…
We had invited our neighbor, James over for a night of babysitting. Actually, we were trying to surprise him since it was his 18th birthday and his parents just left for a few weeks back to the States. He was under the impression Dave and I were leaving and he would be babysitting. I thought this was a fun idea and Dave and I planned to BBQ, the kids made signs and even James’ mom had left a few special touches for the meal.
However, around 11 am, Dave came home and very apologetically reminded me that he had a dinner meeting with the staff at a local Korean Hospital and wouldn’t even be home tonight for dinner. Great. Me. BBQ. Dinner with 5 kids and an 18 year old’s BIRTHDAY!! I tried to keep a positive attitude. The kids and I made a great cake, signs and I prepped the dinner. Evie woke up from her afternoon nap really grumpy, so I could (literally) not put her down until she went to bed! Dave ran home at 5, through the meat on the grill and then left for his meeting. I got everything set up outside on our picnic table. James walked over and was greeted by the exuberant and LOUD singing from Caleb and Ella. Suddenly, I thought maybe this whole thing was not such a good idea. Too late.
So, after the proud display of our recent bug collection consisting of roly-polies, a snail, a caterpillar and a beetle, we began our dinner. James and his younger brother Noah are so sweet and polite and helped me serve up food for the tribe. Evie would not stay in her highchair, so I’m holding her, trying to help Riah eat, feed Evie and get a few bites myself. Caleb (the talking head;)) began talking as we all started in on the meal. I ran in real quick to get some better options for Evie to eat, came back out and Caleb was still talking! Everyone else is chewing away! Caleb continued his stream of consciousness for so long that I looked up and saw the smiles on James and Noah’s faces…I said, “Well, you can guess who the chatty one is in our family!” Caleb suddenly said, “Yeah! It’s Daddy…He’s always talking like ‘blah, blah, bla-blah blah!” We all started cracking up!! The meal continued in this manner until we were all done. Noah, very politely excused himself fairly quickly to go with his friend. The rest of us decided to escape the wind and head inside for cake. At this point, Maija tripped as she was pushing her baby stroller, skinning her knee and knocking her precious bobble heads all across the side walk. Hugs and kisses were given to all her owies, bobble heads were rescued and we re-focused on the upcoming cake!
Of course I was still holding Evie, grabbed the few steak knives off the table (so as not to leave something dangerous for our neighbors) and walked towards the back door. James was behind me, his arms full of the leftover food…all the kids followed in line behind him…I got to the back door, baby and knives in hand and suddenly the straps from the baby carrier that is now an appendage to my body got stuck in a basket sitting by the back door. I feel like a circus. James, without skipping a beat, tries to save me by unhooking my straps from the basket with his foot (since his hands are full!). He wasn’t successful, so I asked Ella to help. Finally, I was free to enter my home with crying baby and sharp knives! Whew! So, we sit down (kind of) with 5 very excited kids and one really good sport of an 18 year old for a birthday song and cake! This part went fairly well :)…we all had cake and ice cream, heard some more stories from Caleb and the kids looked at some great books with James. I tried to give James an “out” as soon as possible, apologizing for the evening without Dave being a little more chaos than I had intended. I started to realize what I had just done. This sweet boy just turned 18 and I gave him a very well intended evening, but one full of the joys and the chaos of dinner at the Ayer’s. An 18th birthday I’m sure he’ll never forget! Happy Birthday anyway!! 🙂