You’ve probably heard the saying “like trying to drink from a firehose” before. When it comes to kids, I live by this saying. And sometimes I want to give you, loyal reader, a glimpse inside the insanity. No, not inside my brain, but what it’s like at the house.
It’s a Wednesday evening at 7:30 and my wife and I realize it’s time for the big three to wind down and the younger two to go to bed. But here’s what’s happening at that exact moment:
The 8-year-old is lying on his back with the baby’s toy maraca tied around the big toe of his right foot, he’s laughing as he shakes like an electrocuted goat while the maraca rattles the whole time. The 3-year-old has a blanket tied around his feet like a turban and is running a one-man potato sack hop race around the room, while the 6-year-old plays the same three notes on the piano over and over and over again. The 17-month-old is dancing so hard to the toy piano playing music in his hand he smacks his forehead into the bookshelf.
It’s now 7:31 p.m. and little has changed, other than the baby is crying instead of wildly dancing. Also, I just realized I don’t know where the 4-year-old is.
This is where we play a round of the parents’ worst multiple choice game. Is the 4-year-old: a) drawing on the walls with crayons, b) filling the hand soap containers in the bathroom with water, c) urinating somewhere, d) all of the above, e) just kidding, there are zero other options.
If you guessed b) — likely preceded by c) — you are correct!
So we round up the kids, get them jammied up, and off to bed. This is kind of like that moment in cartoons where someone pinches the firehose to stop it from spraying. It works, for a time, but what it’s really doing is building pressure and preparing for an eventual water-spewing explosion.
Enter: the next morning. The sun peeks up just over the horizon (or maybe it’s just thinking about peeking) and simultaneously, the older four boys burst to life. They come spewing out of their room and into the rest of the house clattering like four windup, cymbal smashing monkeys.
As I lie in bed, I don’t know if it’s funny, sad or infuriating that they think they’re being quiet as they parade down the hall. The word “parade” may seem a bit dramatic but the 3-year-old is playing a tuba as he marches down the hall at the crack of dawn. We don’t even own a tuba.
All this racket and firehose drinking pales in comparison to the flood of noise and action that accompanies any trip outside. The boys love being outside. You know how a young colt or calf might frolic and jump around in delight at the start of a fresh new day? The boys are like that, except they can talk and scream and fight with each other as they run circles around the backyard.
The upside to being outside is there’s more space for the noise. The downside is they fill every cubic inch of that space with shouting. I guess, just like with a firehose, learning how to harness or at least direct the flow is key.
Some days you’re trying to drink from a firehose, some days you’re directing the hose in a helpful direction, and most days you’re running around after the hose while it’s spraying everywhere.
Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their five sons. Please email comments or suggestions for future columns to firstname.lastname@example.org.