Never a dull moment.
That is what I told a good friend on Saturday in discussing what happens when you have a lot of kids.
As I mentioned in this space last week, my wife and I had a flood of kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and plenty of good friends coming to our house over a three-week period that started at the first of June.
It all began with my daughter Jenny coming in from Colorado for her visit that occurs when her husband gets shipped out. He is with the Army and Sgt. Zachary Weisheit is in Afghanistan for what is supposed to be a nine-month stay, his third trip to the Middle East region.
So Jenny always visits for an extended period of time when Zach leaves, and is the one daughter, so far, who is somewhat following in the footsteps of her mother and father, continuing to add more children seemingly every time we get together.
Jenny brought new baby Reagan, a sweetheart of a little thing, and of course everyone has been having a great time with her. That is the third child for Jenny and Zach, joining “big girl” Abby, who is about to turn 6, and “little brother” Zach Jr., who is 3.
Of course when Jenny shows up with her kids, the rest of the family wants to get together and it makes for quite a pack of people here. But this time it got even crazier when my niece and her husband stopped by for a few nights with their little girl, my niece from California was coming to the New Orleans area for several days and naturally stayed with us, and another niece from Hammond simply kept coming over to join the fun. (Can you blame her?)
That doesn’t even get into the friends of the family who came by for a little “reunion/birthday” party we had for Jenny and Abby, who both have their birthday in the month of June.
The new joke around here is that I called it all a “zoo” last week, so I’ve been hearing about that. And the other joke is something I remarked about last week, telling the wife, “this is all our fault,” or something along those lines.
While some people don’t like this much chaos, we thoroughly enjoy it, as long as there is just a teeny, weeny bit of control in it all. I mean, after your kids grow up and leave the house, it makes you wonder if they will actually want to come back.
I know my wife and I discussed that topic many times as the three girls were getting older, especially since most parents of teens know you usually go through some trying times in the relationships when the kids are close to “flying the coop.”
For us, it has never been any concern about having to beg the kids to come home. It’s abundantly clear they like to come here, and it’s quite obvious that none of them likes to be left out when the others are here.
It raises the question about why some adult kids don’t want to have a relationship, or at least not much of one, with their parents or grandparents, while other families with grown kids are having tons of fun with their parents or grandparents.
I certainly know of some situations like that in my family, where grandparents have wondered why kids or grandkids don’t show much interest in visiting, calling or having any great relationship.
In my opinion, it’s all about who takes the initiative to make sure relatives, or even friends, want to spend time with you. Too many people are sitting around expecting the others to make the first move to build a relationship. But for my wife and I, we were always determined to take that first step.
We discussed this a lot as our girls were getting older. We knew we had to be friendly, inviting and non-confrontational with the kids if we wanted them to come back home after they were grown.
We go so far as to make sure there is lots of food, fun things to do, and opportunities to sleep in while the grandparents (us, in this case) take care of the grandkids.
In a nutshell, you have to create such an inviting situation in your home that kids can’t wait to come see you. Our kids know there will always be great things to eat (my wife is fantastic in the kitchen so that is handled very well), they know we will take them out to eat once in a while, and in general, we try to make it a fun place to come.
Does it get expensive? Sure. Do you have to keep your mouth shut a lot of times when you otherwise want to say something? You bet.
But if you don’t make your home an inviting, wonderful place for kids and grandkids to come back to, they simply won’t come, unless it’s out of obligation—and that is hardly the way you want them to show up.
I’ve done many interviews, and have listened to many an older person express hurt about their kids not wanting to call or visit. My guess is that there could be reason for that, and as tough as it is, you just might want to look in the mirror.
If you make your home the greatest place to visit, the most fun place to return to, and somewhere that the kids and grandkids know you will be taking care of most things, I bet you will have lots of company.
That is hardly to say my wife and I have done everything right, because we haven’t. But in this area, so far, we seem to be having success because we sure don’t lack for company, or having kids who clearly want to visit back at our house.
And it certainly makes for a warm feeling, and lots of great memories, when kids and grandkids come back home, knowing there won’t be confrontation and difficult times.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.