Overwhelmed by kids? Sometimes, the solution is to join in the fun

It’s archery season here in Southwest Colorado, that time of year we send Dan off with his homemade bow, an insane amount of calories and our fervent good wishes on pursuing his elkiest dreams.

The day of Dan’s departure is always hectic. Dan bustles around the house, frying bacon and assembling little tubes of camo face paint, which Rose mistakes for make-up and is found crouching secretively in our room, trying to jimmy the caps off. The kids are on high-anticipation alert, asking about 50 more questions per hour than usual and flopping around as if their bones are slowly melting away.

And then Dan leaves, and suddenly everything is funny; funny like look how Col is eating breakfast standing up because he doesn’t want to displace the paper airplane on his chair. And wow, Rose is so thrilled to get carte blanche on a bottle of glue that she’s glueing strange fuzz found on our floors to paper.

And sometimes, nothing is funny. Sometimes, we’re just trying to get through the supermarket and the kids are chasing each other through the aisles, shrieking at a pitch that doesn’t even seem legal. And the dishes in our sink are like one of those trick candles that you can’t ever blow out, and one kid bit the other and left a bite mark, and both kids are always asking me something, urgently, often something unanswerable, like, “what song will come next on the radio?” And one of them is ringing a bell repeatedly, scraping at my nerves, but I breathe and bear it because I’m sick of my own nagging voice, and the mathematical equation of how much energy I’m putting out compared to taking in would break a calculator.

But here’s the extraordinary thing, the thing that still boggles me: The solution is sometimes the same as the problem itself. It’s like the Hair of The Dog hangover remedy. You’re undercaffeinated and beleaguered by children? Take a small dose of joyful, delightful children who love you more than 200 bottles of Elmer’s Glue.

Because really, they are such good and kind and hilarious little people.

Col greets me in the morning, unfailingly, by throwing himself at me and professing, “I love you, Mama. Soooooo much.” He burrows his head in my neck and whispers, “I like this part, right here.”

And Rose, in the middle of a 90 degree August day, shimmies into a 2-pound dress, all thick with black velvet and ruffled petticoats.”OK, Mama. Ready to watch me? Wait, not yet. OK now!” And she streaks like a victorian comet across our living room, with no reason not to believe that she is absolutely divine.

We went back to the grocery store for cheesecloth, and I told the kids to pick out a carton of ice cream, any kind, to eat when we got home, even though it was already past bedtime. And then we danced in the parking lot while I sang ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” and the kids went all wide-eyed and proud like maybe I had been hiding the fact all these years that I was actually a rock star.

Reach Rachel Turiel at sanjuandrive@frontier.net.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.