We are just past one semester deep in our two-year experiment of having all four kids in high school. This year, we have two freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. After the junior graduates next year, we’ll have three (all girls) in high school for two years. Then, two girls in high school for two more years. Then, we’ll have tapioca for brains. When all is said and done (hopefully more “said” than “done,”) we will have lived through seven straight years of having kids in high school; six of those years will be multiple kids.
Let’s break it down. First, the bright side.
Now that we’re finished with that, let’s take a look at reality.
We’ll begin with money. This won’t take long. As far as the Mom budget goes, what I don’t spend on groceries is taken up by prom tickets, gas, sports gear, clothes, shoes, Starbucks, Taco Bell, pizza, etc. Of course, the kids earn some money as they go; a couple of them umpire, one tried babysitting once, and all four have been dog-sitting for a kind neighbor for several years. This summer, the one going into his senior year may be gainfully employed at a local winery, which pleases both my wallet and my palate. However, our policy has always been this: Their number one job/responsibility during the school year is school; as long as they are staying out of trouble, bringing home the grades, and some of the bacon when they can, we’ll bring home the rest of the hog, and by “rest,” I mean $32,894.50 a month…or at least that’s what it feels like.
And then, there’s food. They are practically adults, and therefore, capable of not starving, which I remind them of occasionally, and by occasionally, I mean 10 times a day. Every morning, like clockwork, it begins. After thrown elbows, farting and thrashing about is finished, my husband and I get out of bed and greet our teenagers at the breakfast table. Just kidding. He makes their lunches and I stagger downstairs and throw some breakfast burritos together about once a week and the rest of the days they eat a high-protein, low-fat, healthy breakfast of cereal and cold milk.
On the teenage upside, we’ve got two drivers in the house. That’s right: I’m all for it. (But I do feel twice as bad now about using my knee to steer when I’m trying to get my pants unbuttoned after eating a big lunch right before a long drive.) Luckily, all of my kids are smarter than I was at that age, so I’m not worried. “Do as I say, not as I do,” actually seems like it has sunk in, whereas with me, that admonishment just bounced off my skull and wobbled down the stairs, out the door, and into the street, like a red, rubber playground ball.
Now that we’ve got a girl driver under our roof, I can slide errands over to her list that I can’t otherwise hand off to the boy driver. Like going to the store for “supplies.” That’s girl-code around here for “bathroom stuff,” which is code for “um, more things.” If you have ovaries, you’re picking up what I’m putting down. And what I’m putting down is a small fortune each month at the store in order to keep four females situated, if you know what I mean. I’m not kidding; it’s like the Hunger Games meets Motown when it comes to female fertility cycles around here. Recent chart-toppers include, “I’m Going to Kill You, Jackson!”, “Are You Serious?”, and “Hey, You, Get Out of my Room!”
Another upside: No more running to Dad’s classroom (for us) at 10 p.m. for a forgotten text book, or racing across town for softball socks at mom’s house at 5:45 a.m. on a sleepy Saturday morning, pre-tourney. Now, we can assign someone to jump in the car and go retrieve what’s needed. And no more of this pathetic game of adult “Not it!” between me and my husband, as a way of deciding who is going to stay sober on a Friday night to pick up the kids after a football game. Instead, the two eldest can argue over who picks up mom and dad at the pub after the game.
Teenagers. What’s not to love?