The thing about having kids

If you are wondering what things are like at our house, here is what you need to know: We have FOUR teenagers. Wasn’t that good planning? Aren’t we smart? It also smells wonderful here, believe me. And whatever the levels of snark and sarcasm you’re imagining, multiply it by 10. The four of them tend to gang up on us and act together like some kind of unholy army of scoffing and scorn.

Sometimes my husband will fuss at them, because they need to be fussed at. I recently learned that, after he leaves the room, one of my daughters will turn to the others and say, with a look of mild astonishment on her face, “I never did catch that man’s name.”

Pandemonium. She has very good comedic timing, just like her father, and she gets away with way too much just because she’s so funny. Just exactly like her father (whatever his name is).

And that’s what it’s like at our house.

I set this essay up like I was complaining, but this is actually one of the greatest parts of having children — or two of the greatest parts, I should say.

One is that they are so entertaining. They start out that way when they are first born (all babies are beautiful, and all babies are incredibly ugly, which is hilarious), and they keep it up as they trundle through one developmental stage after another, gracefully or clumsily blossoming into life as if they’re the first ones that ever thought of trying it. These comic firsts — first goofy laugh, first words, first joke, first completely insane knock-knock joke, first pun — they don’t get old when you have a lot of kids. If anything, they get better and better, because you’re relaxed enough to enjoy it.

It’s possible that I’m predisposed to enjoy my kids’ humor because I love them, but I have also heard so many people say that they had kids for various reasons — for duty, or because their wives wanted it, or by accident — and were amazed to discover how entertaining the little buggers turned out to be. I remember seeing a post on Facebook where some hapless young man loaded down with a stroller and diaper bags smiled goofily and told the cameraman, “I never thought I’d be so proud of someone for rolling over.” He knew the kid wasn’t some kind of genius for hitting a basic milestone, and yet that’s what milestones are like: They feel huge. They feel historic, even though trillions of people have done them before.

I suspect this is a large part of why people answered as they did in a recent Pew study…  Read the rest of my latest for Our Sunday Visitor

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

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4 thoughts on “The thing about having kids”

  1. Thank you so much for this. I was not prepared for the mental and emotional load of teenagers and young adults. I highly recommend the book St Monica’s Club.

  2. Thank you, Simcha. Long time lurker since your Patheos days. I have been crying a lot over one of my teens recently, and I’d been hoping that you would write something that could give me some encouragement. This helped. You are right, they are not mine.

  3. Oh, yes.
    At times, when I’m chatting with students at college , they find out I have a lot of kids, and they ask why. So I tell them that kids are so interesting in how they grow and think and change! The students usually look at me skeptically in response.
    The things that bring joy with kids can be so surprising- so different for each kid. When my kid who suffers terribly from anxiety and shyness went up unprompted to a life guard to ask about missing swim goggles- my husband and I celebrated. When the kid who got into trouble in Jr high for being a smart aleck got reviews from high school teachers talking about how he was great to have in class and kept the discussions lively and insightful- rejoicing!
    No one said parenting was going to be easy (I’m doing my share of crying over one of my kids right now….) . Challenges are part of any worthwhile endeavor.
    Thank you for this essay.

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