When people see us for the first time in awhile they haltingly ask us ‘So…how are things working?‘ As in, ‘how the heck are y’all adjusting to now having six kids instead of three.‘ For the most part, things are going well.
Here’s what’s working:
The physical part of the job is going better than I thought it would. I’m cooking every night, the laundry is caught up, getting everyone up and moving and getting everyone down to bed – it’s all going swimmingly. Oooh! And the first week we had them my friends brought us dinner every night and the church’s foster care ministry showed up with gift cards, diapers, and meals for the freezer! So score!
Of course, I say that but I do need to admit that there has been a lot of this:
“Heather, Can you please bring James home? I have to take the fifth grader to clarinet lessons.’ “Carl, Can you bring Henry to football? I have to take James to Cross Country. ‘ So, it takes a village and all that.
We’ve learned how to tweak the things that don’t work. The two year old is grumpy if you wake her up, the 3rd grader needs to lay out her clothes the night before, the girls need to sleep in their beds not on the floor, the fifth grader hates long car rides, the phrase ‘it’s not fair’ has been banned from the house, and on and on and on.
Some stuff though? Well, it’s just not working. It’s two things really and they directly relate to each other.
Number one, and this is going to sound ridiculous, we can not figure out a good seating arrangement in the car. When we sold the Silver Mine (my old Acura MDX) and bought the Black Pearl (our Honda Odyssey) I thought it was plenty big enough for eight people. It seats eight – we have eight – end of story.
No, not end of story. It does seat eight but once you add in a big car seat and backpacks and people with short tempers etc…Well, we’re like sardines in there. Do not suggest a bigger car. I can hardly drive the Odyssey it feels so big.
A reoccurring, as in every single time we get in the car, fight is over who sits where. Before the foster kids moved in the rule was the oldest gets first choice of seats. If the oldest wasn’t in the car the next oldest got first choice. That worked very well. And then came the fosters. Suddenly, Henry no longer got to sit in the front if James wasn’t there. And Stella always has to sit in the third row. And, oh the belligerent complaining that began. Which, can I just say, I NEVER got to sit in the front when I was their age so what in the world are they complaining about?!
First, I tried just saying ‘sorry Hank but you’re not the second oldest anymore.’ Bad idea. Second, I tried a rotating every other day system. That didn’t work either. Billy suggested assigning seats and never letting the older boys get a turn in the front. I’m not crazy about that idea. So we start the morning off on the wrong foot with complaining about who sits where and we pick up from school with the same arguments.
The second issue we haven’t been able to fix is all the blasted fighting between Henry and our fifth grade foster son. They fight ALL.THE.TIME. As in, they can’t be in the same room with each other without fighting. And you may be thinking ‘Oh, I fought with my sister/brother all the time growing up!‘ Well, that may be but it’s driving us batty. I need peace in my house and these boys? Oh, they are not giving it to us. It’s strange because we spent a ton of time with these kids before they permanently moved in and Henry and the fifth grader got along great. The second they moved in though…
Several people recommended the book Siblings Without Rivalry. It’s really good and when I implement those principles it’s definitely better but I’m not always around. So, until this guy actually turns into Superman and starts making peace instead of war…
…what are we to do?
No, seriously, I’m waiting on you to tell me what to do.