By Alicia Beach
If I could have a dime for every time someone has asked me “What is it like to be in a big family?” I’d be knee-deep in nickel-plated steel. Because apparently dimes aren’t made out of silver like I thought they were.
Fact is, I never know how to answer that question. Obviously I could shoot off the stereotypical “Loud” or “Crazy” but neither of those words covers nine siblings.
So what does?
When you’ve got a five year old singing Disney princess songs at the top of her lungs, me plunking out my four-octave scales on the piano, my dad editing a video in the basement, my brothers playing cars – accompanied with that motor sound they make with their tongue – my older brother on the phone, another brother doing dishes rather noisily, and to top it all off, somebody decided this was the day to learn how to whistle. Oh, and don’t forget the vacuum cleaner.
Let’s just say you get really good at tuning things out.
Admittedly that’s one of the crazier moments… Most of the time we aren’t quite that loud. But we are all budding musicians, and there are often multiple instruments being played at the same time on different levels and rooms.
And then there’s the dinner table conversations. Everything from the You-tube video Dad watched last night to the complexities of teleportation. That and politics – until it got branded as “too upsetting” and banned. So instead we tried to come up with a name for our boy goat. Try getting that many people – strong-willed as we all are – to agree unanimously on anything! By the end of the meal the poor goat had quite a few options. To name a few: “Pinkie” (too feminine), “Billy,” (too cliché, everyone names their goat that) and “Kissy” (enough said).
The decision was postponed to a later date.
My parents are supremely talented at organizing us as a work force. It’s pretty handy when you’ve got a small army at your disposal. Like when the rows of corn are mostly weeds. Picture half a dozen kids in cut-off shorts and rubber boots tearing away at the crabgrass. Yep, the job’s done in no time. Lemonade, anyone?
Sometimes we’ll load up our sixteen passenger van and take a special trip to the library and get some books out. Nice, normal, family outing, right? Pay the fines, pick a couple books out, watch the sweet librarian print out our receipt… a minute later we’re still watching the paper spool out… our really, really long receipt.
As in around a hundred books long.
The house is always quiet for a few days after that. I’m not exaggerating. My siblings read voraciously. Most of us can read a book in an hour. Thicker ones might take two. My fifteen year-old sister especially will read multiple full-length novels in a night. My eleven year-old brother will secretly tuck a book in his lap and read it under the table while he eats dinner – that is, until someone rats him out…
Funny thing – sometimes I’m off somewhere without my family, like a friend’s house and I’ll have this flash of panic, “Where’s the baby?!” I’m just so used to keeping an eye on him. He’s a mischievous little guy and all of us watch out for him… even when he’s not around!
Best part? The look on this one guy’s face when he did the math and realized how many siblings I had.
I think it scared him off.