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WHEN TWO PLUS FOUR IS ELEVEN

I've finally figured out why having four children actually feels like having 11 children.

The thing is, each time you add a child, you're adding a new relationship. So when you have Kid 2, Kid 1's nose will be out of joint, so you have to work on assuring Kid 1 that Kid 2 is not a threat, and make sure Kid 2 brings Kid 1 a present when it arrives. (This can lead to sticky questions about whether or not the Barbie was in mammy's tummy the whole time).

Now when Kid 3 arrives, you have to manage the relationship between Kid 3 and Kid 1, and between Kid 3 and Kid 2, plus, of course, there's the changed dynamic between Kids 1 and 2. By the time you get to Kid 4, there are three whole new relationships you have to manage, which is why it feels like, what did I say? Eleven kids. Sometimes more.



Fretting

We're now trying to figure out where to store all of these children. Right now the older two, Annie and Mike share a room. Conor, who's two, is in a room by himself, while the baby, who's coming up to six months now, is in with her parents. So three bedrooms, six people. Fairly simple you would think. Only it's not unusual for one of the parents to sleep in three different beds on the one night, depending on who's having nightmares/an itchy bum/is fretting about climate change.

I mean the obvious thing would be parents in one room, boys in another, girls in the third. This option would fit perfectly with my wife's carefully honed interior-design plans. Pink stuff in one, blue stuff in another, half of bloody Ikea in ours.

The main problem centres on the boys. They're close in age, so they're hardwired to compete with each other. That whole thing about the middle child being a peacemaker is a load of tosh. They spend the day rubbing each other up the wrong way. So putting them in the same room doesn't seem like a particularly inspired idea.



Curious

We also have to keep room for Mike's roster of imaginary friends, which, it worries me to say, is growing all the time. Once upon a time, we used to look up curious behaviour like this on the internet, but not anymore. Far too easy to convince yourself that your kid is going to grow up to be a prostitute or an investment banker or something.

The other issue with allowing Conor into a room with other people's stuff in it is that he's so damn destructive. Earlier this week, I was making the dinner when he comes into the kitchen and you know instantly that he's been up to no good. So I dash over and prise open his little fist, and for a second I don't recognise the little black square with the white letter 'E' on it. Then it dawns. I dash into the office and there's my laptop with half the buttons on the floor. Couldn't get the bloody 'C' or the 'U' back on. Little f#$ker.


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