Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A housefull of young-uns

Well, we've three out of the four of our boarders with us now. School started yesterday morning and when I came to pick them all up, they were a gang of five. As I walked around the walls of the school to enter by a proper entrance, they beat me to it and all scrambled over the fence to climb into my car. There are moments I fell like a silly old adult. I might have scaled that fence too, but I'm afraid of being yelled at by the teachers...

The household is now Jonas (in second grade), Maeva (5th grade), Leo (6th grade), Mael (7th grade) and Lucille (8th grade). In a couple weeks we'll have Gaetan back (9th grade). Truly, I feel like I've half the school. But I also feel lucky. Somewhere in myself I've discovered a deep pleasure in being a den mother. I don't know if I'm freaked out my this, or simply pleased that being surrounded by lively, sociable, generous, funny kids is such a warm and neat way to spend my time.

I tend to have a light hand. I orchestrate the day's meals, shower times, clean-up, bed-time, etc., and I provide many an object for play and recreation. For example, I fixed two bicycles today, dug out all the roller blades, and the skate board, pulled out some puzzles, and cleaned the pool. But more than anything I enjoy watching them communicate amongst themselves. There are elements of a pack of dogs organizing their dominance structure. If I notice something I don't like (Mael physically removing Jonas from changing the volume of the radio) I jump in quickly and let him know that physically man-handling Jonas is not ok. We can discuss things, and in any case, I'm right here.

There is the girl-boy dynamic, in a good way. They're all still so young and open. For the moment, I don't sense a hint of pre-pubescence or weirdness amongst or between them. They're all pretty strong characters, which helps. No one is being smooshed by any one else. Leo can speak loudly and forcefully, but the elder two are fine with that. He's not being too bossy, and they can hear that he's speaking from the heart. Our little girl is home-sick, but naturally a joyous being and seems to be able to quickly pass from a moment of tears to happily working through her homework. I offer a cuddle, but don't press. She welcomed my kiss when I picked her up at school. But there again. I'm a new person in her life, and I need to be a warm and reassuring presence, but I'm not yet truly a known and loved individual. Such a delicate balance being 'in locus parentus.'

The kids seem pretty happy at the arrangement. Rather than being a single outsider child trying to be accepted by a formed family unit, they are a force unto themselves. I and my boys are welcoming them, but also creating a new family structure with them. Together we'll form a unit this year. Or at least I hope so.

In any case, my chocolate chocolate chip muffins awaiting them for snacks yesterday afternoon were a hit. And my lasagna was much appreciated as well. Tonight, perhaps a simple quiche?

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