I read recently that that which is not flexible can become brittle, and that which is brittle often breaks.
That statement has me thinking this non-scheduled drop-everything-and-go life I lead with these six little people has been on purpose. Sure, I did this on purpose. I’m busy raising flexible children with this well-refined technique.
In all seriousness, it has worked for us. On Sundays, when church doesn’t get out until 2pm and we don’t usually eat lunch until 3:30pm, all six of my children just go with it. No one even complains. I carry pretzels in the van and often have takers when we’re on our way home, but no one says a word. Skipping naps is no big deal, five stores in one afternoon is common and accepted, and bedtime is 8pm. Usually. Sometimes it’s 9:30, especially in the summertime. They rarely melt, they don’t fuss, they just know that this is life and roll with it.
When we took our last trip with our minivan, there were seven of us in a seven passenger vehicle. Plus luggage for seven. Plus a small dog. On the way home, we were packed to the gills. No one could get out without climbing over seats and preferably out the front doors. On the way home, we got a flat tire. We had to unload the back of the van to get to the spare. The spare that was rusted on tight. The spare that wasn’t sufficient to drive the four hours home. Four hours later, we were headed out again, four hours from home. No. One. Complained.
That was the moment when I wondered if I’d ruined them with all the flexibility required to maintain sanity around here. That moment when I was exhausted, wanted to cry, and my kids saw the two hours of wandering Walmart while they put a new tire on my van as an adventure. We’ve never before spent half an hour smelling every candle in the aisle, after all. We’d never walked the toy section talking about what looked fun, what looked crazy, and what we would choose if we had the funds and space to each pick something fun. We rarely get the chance to sit in a restaurant and eat, and leave our supper mess in some other space.
That fact was commented upon by both of my older daughters. Being able to walk away from the dirty table was the highlight of the night by my dear kitchen helpers. Not long after that trip, we were given our 12 passenger van. Space was amazing, as is the ability to pack in places other than the foot space of my children.
But still. I’m still unsure about the flexibility that happens around here. It’s so completely different than the way I grew up. Is this a necessity of a larger family? Is it merely a byproduct of my personality? Do share, what works for you?