A Family of Modest Size

Here’s another one from the Drafts folder – written in 2013.

I was at the library tonight with my four children. Encyclopedia sat next to me reading quietly. Safari sat on my lap reading an Early Reader. Shiny looked at pictures, and Baby Busy slept peacefully by my feet in her carseat.

A gentleman took the seat next to me and started a conversation immediately. Well, perhaps not so much a conversation as a friendly inquisition.

“Are they all yours?” Gesturing expansively.

Yes, they’re all mine.

“Do you have any more?”

Not yet.

“But these four are all yours! And you have two boys and two girls? Just like that?”

Yes.

What do you do with them all?” He shifted in his seat to face me more directly. “I mean, what about bedtime? Do they all go to bed at once?”

For the most part. We have a boys’ room and a girls’ room, but sometimes we have to separate the boys.

“And do you stack them? On bunkbeds?”

We used to, but right now they share a bed. Fewer messy bits of stucco ceiling to clean out of the sheets that way. The girls are in cribs.

He just couldn’t get enough of us. He wanted to know everything.

“How do you do it? You must not work. Are you home?”

I homeschool.

He was absolutely astonished.

“Homeschool? So what is the day like? You get up, you have breakfast? What do you have for breakfast?”

We have granola and yogurt — homemade, actually. I must admit to a feeling of prideful smugness as I was able to sound much more competent than I really am. I have never been much of a domestic — but I’m growing into it. I have just begun making granola and yogurt after reading a simple, healthy recipe on a friend’s blog.

This gentleman was so extremely interested in the size of my family.

“You just don’t see large families anymore. They’re so cute! Especially this one. She just looks like — well, with the pigtails and the little dress, and everything — she just looks like something out of Little House on the Prairie. Wait here, just a minute. I’d like to introduce you to someone.”

And when he returned, it was to introduce us to his elderly father, who was somewhat less fascinated than his son, but quite friendly.

“Well, you have a beautiful family.”

“Yes, a marvellous family. So nice to see a big family like that.”

The most remarkable thing, looking back on the whole exchange now, is that my family is not really all that big. I have four children. We are hardly the Duggars. And yet, to this man, we were an object of utter fascination, and nostalgia. It was like he was recalling some half-remembered past, something he hadn’t even realized was gone.

“Girls don’t wear dresses anymore, do they?” he asked me, as if realizing it for the first time. “It’s all pants now.”

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