At home with NickelAtATime

That’s right, we have six kids.  Pick your jaws up off the floor and quit looking at me with pity in your eyes.

Yes, every day is a circus.

Starting from the top, we have a twelve year old daughter, eleven year old daughter, five year old son, four year old daughter, four year old son, and a one year old daughter.  And a partridge in a pear tree.

The twelve year old is Ms. Einstein.  She’s a senior carrying a 12.9 GPA in high school and is working on picking out her college.  She was reading medical textbooks when she was three and disagrees with Alex Trebek twice a week.  In her spare time, she’s rebuilt the toaster to work in a tenth the time and hacked the cable box so that we get Russian traffic reports and game shows (and she only had to sacrifice all the foreign language, golf, Nascar, and remedial basket-weaving channels to do it, no big loss).  Her next projects?  Rewiring the house to run on macromolecular solar cold fusion and curing her mother’s asthma.

The eleven year old?  Ms. Music.  She plays the trumpet, baritone, tuba, harmonica, and mouth-harp, and will be touring with Mangione next spring.  She keeps trying to teach me to play the trumpet, even though the noise that usually comes out inspires local farm animals to run over and claw at the walls of the house.  Did you know you can get three different notes out of a trumpet without even pushing any of the buttons?  Well…she can.  I can actually get twelve, but calling those noises “notes” would be an insult to any decent self-respecting musical note anywhere.

The five year old thinks he’s Spiderman.  He leaps from the top bunk, out the second-story window, onto the top of the family bus and bounces into the farmer’s field next door, with absolutely no fear.  His magical mystical spider powers are apparently triggered by chocolate, hot dogs, and fluffernutter sandwiches, which fuel his exploits for a full twelve hours.  We had to draw the line, though, when we found the four year old daughter wrapped up in a cocoon and dangling from the ceiling fan.  We’re not quite sure what she did to end up there, but interpreting from munchkinnish leads us to believe that it somehow started with the sentence “Spiderman isn’t real!”

Four-year-old daughter is going to be a chef.  How do I know this?  Because she doesn’t like anything we put on the table and will loudly proclaim “Daddy messed up dinner.  AGAIN.  Me need to teach you how to cook.”  The fact that it’s true doesn’t necessarily give her the right to say so, does it?  This is also the art major of the bunch, who will happily decorate the house in purple and orange crayon.  Taking the crayons away and scrubbing the wall leads to panoramic art in watercolor.  Repainting the wall in white and taking away the paint set results in artwork in chalk…wiping the wall down and crushing the chalk in punishment promptly leads to masterpieces painted entirely in chalk dust.  We’re debating just giving her oils, interior latex, and a roller, and letting her paint and repaint whatever she wants.

Four year old son, on the other hand, says he’s changing his name to Batman.  I wouldn’t mind so much except I must be playing the parts of the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and BullseyeTargetMan, based on the number of times he’s accidentally head-butted me in the crotch.  He’s a good kid, though.  He says he wants to grow up, so he can drink coffee, stay up late, drive cars, fly planes, and play poker.  None of that scares me except maybe the poker part; I already can’t beat him at Memory, Monopoly Junior, Uno, and Blackjack, so I’ve been hesitant to teach him Texas Hold-em.  I only bring home so much paycheck, you know?

And the one-year old only has two kinds of toys…those that can be dropped so Daddy will pick them up…and those that can be used to inflict pain and punishment on Daddy.  A WhackDaddy is any item not nailed down that can be dropped, swung, hurled, or otherwise applied to the most sensitive areas on a Daddy’s body, and she’s got quite a collection of them.  And now that she’s mastered the art of walking without falling on her face, Daddy has no place to hide anymore.  Spidermankid’s bunkbed used to be the ideal spot, but she’s also recently mastered the art of climbing ladders… and as she’s working her way up the ladder, why does she mumble something that sounds distinctly like Elmer Fudd’s “Gonna kill da wabbit…?”  Strangely enough, she gets along beautifully with the dog, though I’ve never understood why his eyes get wide and his tail goes down every time she comes within three feet.

My sweetie…bless her heart…is locked into a madhouse with these six, all day, every day, trying to get some semblance of home-schooled learning into them.  I have no doubt this is difficult, since I’m sure that one of the children tries to emulate whatever she reads to them.  Which kind of explains why we no longer have any fish (“Put me down,” said the fish, “this is no fun at all!  Put me down,” said the fish, “I do not wish to fall!” –The Cat in the Hat).

“I would really like some quiet ‘US’ time,” she told  me a few days ago, right after I got home from work.  I gently removed the cream pie from her eyes, combed the peanut butter and bubble gum out of her hair, untied her hands, kicked the burning sticks away from her feet, and reminded her that we have SIX kids.  “Us” time requires

  • three and a half months advance notice
  • three babysitters
  • two more babysitters on call, for whichever of the first set run screaming from the house
  • Eighty-seven dollars and thirty-two cents worth of pizza, popcorn, lemonade, Irish whiskey and ultra-industrial strength Sta-Wake tablets
  • two fully charged and prepaid cel phones (one spare, to replace the one that will either get flushed down the toilet, dropped in the blender, or fed to the dog)
  • written consent forms (in triplicate) from each of the munchkins that has mastered the art of signing their own name (you’d be amazed at how high this percentage is…and should I be worried that a five year old with the same name I have knows how to sign contracts…?).

But no, I’m not complaining or anything.  Really.  Please, ignore the Ebay ad titled “Great kids, Cheap!”…because they made me take it down.

Editor’s Note:  Any similarity between this essay and real life is strictly coincidental, unintentional, and otherwise especially unintended, though it must be added that all of the nickels received by NickelAtATime are currently covering college costs for a twelve year old.

If you laughed at this joke, don’t forget to hit PayPal and send your nickels in to nickelatatime@gmail.com!

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