Friday, January 13, 2017

Large Family Dynamic

Growing up in a large family can be challenging.  For instance, there were so many of us, that occasionally one would get lost.  One memorable instance was when we all went grocery shopping with my mom at the Super-X Market.  After we did our shopping, we loaded up the car, and came home.  As we were unloading the groceries, Mom asked: "Where's Ben?"  "I dunno....around here somewhere..." 

 We looked everywhere, and then Mom asked if anyone remembered if (2-yr-old) Ben was in the car coming home from the store?  None of us could recall Ben's presence in the car...., panic time!  Mom called the store, and they said that yes, Ben was there, and having quite a time.  The clerks had bought him ice cream, and were fussing over him, when Mom arrived to bring him home.  He hadn't even missed us. 

 I could see the wheels turning in our heads.  How to get lost ourselves next time, so we could score some ice cream?

Another thing about large families is that you are noticeable when you are all together. You are part of your own army.  Every time we would go out, people would stare at us.  We became accustomed to being looked at, when we were out.  

The advantages were that we always had someone to play with.  Some disadvantages were that we had to share - food, space, talk-time.  There was never enough food; if one of us was unwise enough to leave their plate for a second, someone else would consume the rest of our meal!  We all learned to eat fast.   

Speaking of food... There were times when there was nothing but vinegar and sugar in the house, so we made taffy. We had dogs, and if the dogs were hungry, I remember dipping old lettuce in the coffee can filled with bacon grease on our stove, and feeding it to them. 

There wasn't just competition for food, that extended to  "talk-time", as well.   Arlo would really become frustrated, because his thoughts were so many and so long,  that when he paused in the middle of one of his monologues, another of us would jump in to comment.  "Stop interrupting me!" Us:  "Stop interrupting my interruption!"  

Later, as the older sister, I had young siblings hanging onto me, trying to get their own words-in-edgewise.  Sometimes it felt like "Night of the Living Dead", with all the little hands reaching up.   But the need for talk-time was always there.

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