This whole business of having 4 boys within 6.5 years has been one of my wildest adventures yet.
We rode up the elevator the other day, the doors swung open at our floor and two kids purposefully fell over backwards out of the doors and started somersaulting down the hallway to our apartment.
That would have been a weird sight to me a few years ago, and now it’s just another Tuesday.
It was pajama changing time and the littlest one tried desperately to escape the shirt change, the diaper change, the tooth brushing. With a huge grin on his face, smeared with cookie and mischief, I could only imagine how wrestling an octopus must feel. Before children, I would have never considered how that felt.
In my parenting era of only two kids, I used to carry one and hold the hand of the other. Now with four boys, I hold two of the kids by the hand, while using a ‘hope for the best’ approach with the other two.
So inevitably the other week, we briefly lost one boy in Wal-mart.
We were just leisurely looking at the kid bike section, the camping gear, and the neat little snack packs in the super sale aisle. Suddenly I was like, “Wait… where’s Noah?”
We found him within 90 seconds, running and sobbing near the sock aisle.
“I just want to go home Mama…”
“I’m so sorry buddy… you have to stay close… we found you, it’s OK…” are all of the things I told him as I held him tight.
This month alone, all three of the boys have run out ahead in some sort of bike, people, or car traffic. At one point a lady literally grabbed one son’s shoulder and held him back from running through the intersection, just as the light turned red and the cars began to drive.
“She just reached out and grabbed my arm Mom, and then when I turned around to see who it was I only saw the back of her head as she was walking away.”
I’m pretty convinced it was an angel. Either literally, or else a dear human being with the soul of one.
I often feel quite relieved once we are all buckled into our own seats inside the van. I know where everybody is and what everybody’s doing all at once.
With each passing year, I’m discovering more and more that boys are wildly unpredictable. They’ll be sitting calmly one second and then enthusiastically jumping off of your table top the next.
But my job is not to change who they are, it is to teach them to save their wild unpredictability for the appropriate situations. My job is to keep them safe despite their impulses. To teach them to consider others, to think first, and then act.
No big deal.
We were walking back to our building the other week and this young man in his 30’s wearing a fancy business suit stopped us on the street. I was waiting for his comments as he surveyed the sight of the four boys roaming down the sidewalk. Unlike the typical stranger though, he had a huge smile on his face.
“Are they all yours?! This is just like how I grew up! I’m the youngest of four boys! My mom had us all within 6.5 years!” He said.
What are the chances… Slightly stunned I answered, “Your mom’s OK right?”
“Oh yeah, she’s fine. It’s wild now, but it’s going to be so great. Just you WAIT until they’re older!”
And just like that he was gone.
Walking all by himself successfully and safely across crosswalks and through traffic.
He was the grown up version of the little boy I was holding by the hand as the three brothers ran up ahead.
These bouncy, impulsive, unpredictable young men ARE GOING TO TURN OUT GREAT, just like the mysterious suited man.
And I’ll say it out loud and believe it with all of my heart, until the very day that they do.