Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Secret To Maintaining Harmony In A Family Of 11

So far, our blogs have been pretty tame. But obviously, living with so many people isn't always easy. And I hope that Keri will write someday about what it's like to live with someone else's autistic kid, or the frustration she and Matty must sometimes feel living in a house they have told me will never feel like theirs.

One thing that might surprise those who wonder about our arrangement is that there are virtually no fights (at least, not among the adults). And this is why: we've learned that keeping the peace requires letting a lot of things slide.

This flies squarely in the face of one of the big lessons I remember my mother teaching me when I was a kid: if someone does something that bothers you, tell her (or him) about it. The problem is, when so many people live together, there's always something bothering somebody. Andy, Keri, Matty and I have all been guilty (to varying degrees) of leaving messes, forgetting messages, and of STOPPING THE MICROWAVE BEFORE IT CYCLES DOWN TO 0:00 AND THUS LEAVING 17 USELESS SECONDS ON THE DISPLAY THAT MUST BE CLEARED BEFORE THE NEXT PERSON CAN USE IT, WHICH MAY SEEM LIKE A SMALL THING BUT KERI DOES IT ALL THE TIME EVEN THOUGH SHE KNOWS IT DRIVES ME CRAZY. Right. Now, what was I saying again?

But seriously, there have been a couple of times where I spoke out of annoyance and I always regretted it afterwards. Because the target of my sniping would inevitably get defensive and point out (not inaccurately) of previous transgressions on my part. And who am I, arguably the laziest person in the house, to get peeved at anyone else's lapses? So now I hold my tongue. And you know what? A couple of hours later, the tide of annoyance always recedes, and good feeling is restored without ever actually being disrupted. Although we've never discussed this directly, I suspect Keri and Matty have the same approach. I can tell sometimes that Keri is irritated about something, but if I don't ask, she doesn't tell, and it passes.

Of course, when it comes to the big things, it's a different story. Probably the most important thing about two sets of parents and two sets of children living together is that the same rules apply to all the kids. And it's an ongoing conversation. One of the few times Matty has snapped at me in the last year and a half was when he thought I took a toy away from Declan as a punishment for a squabble he was having with Hilary in the car on the way to the aquarium. I was only enforcing a rule I've had since Jonah threw one of his Sesame Street figures in the eagle exhibit at the zoo - no toys on outings. But it turns out Keri and Matty didn't have that rule. Now we've agreed to make the kids leave their toys in the car.

So I guess I would have three questions for anyone who was considering a similar arrangement (and as far as I can tell, that consists of exactly one person, a teacher from our district who was recently out several times to evaluate Jonah): first, does everyone really truly like each other, second, how laid back is everyone involved, and third, are any of the parties involved professional chefs? Actually, the more I think about it, the last two questions are really all that matters.


A "Friend" said...

Gentle Bloggers,

I am shocked, simply shocked, at the capricious way in which honest, polite, nonoffensive comments have been purged from your site. I speak, of course, of the sincere inquiry posted a few days ago regarding the nature of the Keri/Amy relationship under the "Stealing My Thunder" entry...which comment was promptly deleted, perhaps because it made reference to Aqua Dots, whose sale is no longer permitted in the United States. I was unaware that that ban also extended to MENTION of said Aqua Dots.

So, is this blog, in effect, open only to the two sisters? Then why offer a comments field, supposedly to allow gentle readers to post questions and comments, if you are only going to delete said comments? Is this an exercise in solipsism? Sisterly navel-gazing? Cybernetic twin talk (even if the sisters are not, technically speaking, twins)?

And, what, indeed would be the effect on whichever sister excised, like a noxious cyst, the comment in question were she to discover that the banned commenter lived not 7 miles away from her, in a community much familiar to her, and were, indeed, a long-time friend--not merely a "friend"--of one of the sisters? What indeed?

Oh well. I suppose I must cultivate other friends, without quotation marks.

-Former friend (who is willing to be returned to her previous non-quotated state, if proper kowtowing were to be made)

Keri said...

Gentle, anonymous friend,

We beg you to reconsider. Please know that said purging of your comment was only due to an unobtrusive move of our blog, which caused all comments to be lost. Had we known your secret superhero identity, we would have alerted you immediately so you could repost your enlightening thoughts (of which we have a saved copy and would love to send to you so you can repost as you see fit).