Family Experiment

It was family picture day. We all piled out of our huge burgundy van (fifteen passenger vehicles
come in a choice of two colors–white or burgundy). I watched the photographers start counting–
one, two, three...., eight, nine, ten... Jaws dropped. After thirteen children had piled out of the vehicle, my mother was pummeled with the usual questions: "Is this a daycare? Are they all yours? Are they cheaper by the dozen?" But, behind the polite banter I could see what they were really thinking: "Are you nuts?" Growing up with twelve siblings can be tough– sacrifices are made and hardships endured. But this day became very special. As my family was being photographed I was struck that while being part of an enormous family may have some disadvantages, I would not trade my wonderful brothers and sisters for fancy cars, designer shoes–not even for more time with my parents.
I have always been home schooled. My parents wanted to have more control over what we children learned. It started out great. My mother spent the majority of her days teaching me, my older sister, and my younger brother while my father worked. Then, as more babies arrived, my mother’s time was divided amongst all of us. She still taught us, but it was with a baby in one hand and a bottle in the other. Soon, instead of asking Mom or Dad for help with school, I would go to my older sister or to the computer, not wanting to increase my parents’ burden. Ask.com became a reliable friend.
I grew older, more children arrived, and I realized I was getting less attention than before. I am a daddy’s girl, and I always have been. But with the appearance of my little sisters, I now had to share with six other daddy’s girls. This did not always please me, especially when the household chores tended to increasingly fall on me and my older sister. There were times I was tempted to rebel, but I realized my parents wanted the very best for all of us, and were giving it all they had.
I reminisced on these things as the photographer was attempting to fit fifteen people in front of an eight foot background. That morning, I had wanted to have "girl talk" with my mother. Unfortunately for me, my two year old sister also demanded mom’s attention. I lost. By the time mom was free again, we had to get ready for pictures. I went up to my room that find that my three-year-old sister had been drawing on the wall with my lipstick–again. Smile...click.
After the photographer was finished, my family was seated in a room with a circle full of chairs. While we were waiting to see our pictures, my littlest sisters decided to put on a dance performance in the middle of the chair circle. Soon, everyone was clapping along and oldest to youngest took turns displaying their dance moves. As I watched, I was moved. What an incredible privilege to be part of the "Experiment." Which one of these beautiful, bright- eyed children would I wish away, just so I could keep my cosmetics intact and avoid sitting in sticky van seats? Would it be my break dancing brother, with his superb intelligence and humor? Or my pirouetting sister, with her dreams of becoming an artist? Perhaps the twirling twins, with their shy smiles and "twin-telepathy?"
When the pictures arrived, I glanced at my face and winced; my smile looked more like a grimace. Then, I looked at all my brothers and sisters, with their sparkling smiles and twinkling eyes, and I saw that these beautiful little people, with their talents and dreams, would grow up to be great men and women. How could I begrudge them attention from our parents, or the use of my makeup collection?
I realize I may not receive as much attention as children in smaller families do, I cannot keep breakable items in my room, and I will probably forever have the Dora the Explorer song stuck in my head, but overall, life with twelve brothers and sisters is amazing. There is never a day where my parents don’t tell me I am smart, or beautiful, or talented. I always have people who can help with my homework, and I have enough siblings to form a football team! There may be disadvantages to growing up in a large family, but they are paltry compared to the joy of having my wonderful sisters and brothers. And hey, I’m going to have one amazing Rolodex!





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jokin_josh said...
Aug. 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm
hey this was amazing! you are a talented writer. what's it like to have 12 brothers and sisters?
 
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