Meeting my family causes people to break out in song.
That is the explanation I am going with.
But maybe I should back up a minute, start at the beginning.
The kids and I were out, walking around our neighborhood. We do this sometimes, for, I don’t know, general health purposes. (That is a nice way of saying “to tire the toddler out.”)
That’s when we met her: a woman who we’d never seen before, in front of a house not too close to ours.
“You know what they make me think of?” she asked, gesturing at my five children. “The Sound of Music! How many kids were in the Sound of Music family?”
“Seven,” I said.
“You’re just like that!”
I assume she did not count us.
She nodded toward the kids. “You guys know the Sound of Music?”
The older ones do, the younger ones have to live with the sad reality that we no longer keep a television in the house.
That’s when she started to hum.
Oh dear Lord, I thought. (I was asking for divine assistance.)
What is the appropriate response when a stranger asks your children to perform an impromptu musical number? Especially if only half of them know the words?
The kids all smiled politely at her a minute, then turned to walk on.
“Come on!” she called after them. “The hills are aliiiiiiive…”
I used to be surprised by other people slapping the “large family” label on us. We have five kids, not fifteen.
I don’t have special Big Family Strategies. We don’t operate on a strict schedule. There’s no cafeteria food, no tour bus, no color-coordinated outfits. I don’t have one of those Captain Von Trapp whistles.
We would make for the most boring reality television show on earth. Now we sit quietly and read books. Now we play in the backyard. Now we bake cookies, and soon we will practice our conflict resolution skills when there are not an even number of said cookies. After the commercial break, bedtime. Tune in next week for… a walk to the park!
Though when we get in the car, I do tell all the kids to check if their siblings are buckled in next to them, or if we’re missing anyone.
And we have the older kids serve the younger ones breakfast, and push them on the swings, and help them put on their socks and tie their shoes. Sometimes, at least.
Families can’t be defined by any one thing. You might have one child, you might have ten. You might be a family of traveling puppeteers, or a family whose children win spelling bees, or every one of you might play soccer.
But I suspect that’s not all there is to you: you’re also a family that reads aloud in front of the fireplace, or a family that loves road trips, or a family that eats dinner together every single night. You’re a family that loves to bake, or that goes hiking on sunny weekends, or that camps out in the backyard all summer long.
So are we.
Are we a Big Family (TM)?
Mostly, though, I think we’re just a family.
One that’s about to get bigger.