The Blanchard Bunch

The Blanchard Bunch

Monday, October 10, 2011

Love is Real

So today my body decides it's a great day for an ear infection, complete with burning ear, dizziness and nausea. Not the best welcome to Monday I've ever had, by any means. For those of you who've never had an ear infection, or at least not one you can remember, it's one of the worst feelings in the world. It's next to impossible to sleep and no amount of anti-nausea medicine helps that particular symptom. Warm compresses help for a short while, but they're no magic cure. I have great sympathy for small children with ear infections. As an adult, I can articulate my pain and, having experienced a number of these darn things before, I know what they are and what I need to do to relieve the pain. A small child only knows they feel bad, crying is necessary and they just want someone to make them feel better. I can totally relate.

Because I have high blood pressure, I have to be EXTREMELY careful about taking decongestants, which are usually the first line of defense against ear infections. The last time I took my prescription decongestant, my blood pressure shot through the roof and I was thisclose to a trip to the ER-in a different state with folks who know nothing about my medical history. Fortunately, my doctor is awesome and was able to help Todd monitor me over the phone and was there to get me through this very scary crisis. So, no decongestants for me today. Just lots of sleep and quiet time. Yes, my children can be quiet, but only under direct threat. :-)

While I was sleeping off one round of extreme nausea, Todd and the little girls had dinner: corn dogs and ice cream. Not the healthiest of choices, but that's okay. They had a great dinner together and were all ice cream covered smiles and giggles when all was said and done (the little girls, not Todd!) They loved having dinner with Daddy and I'm sure there was tons of silliness and laughter the entire time. They got ready for bed and he read them their bedtime story, something they ABSOLUTELY LOVE because he uses silly voices and is very animated. They went off to bed tonight with happy tummies and happy hearts, just the way they're supposed to be.

During this time, four of the teens went for a walk down to the park. It's about a mile from the house, paved sidewalks the whole way with enough street lamps that it's not too scary a walk after dark. Some walk for the exercise, some for the company and some because it's the only way they get to play on the swings. They found some interesting sidewalk chalk graffiti there tonight. The one picture that was uploaded to facebook was a John Lennon quote: "Love is real. Real is love." There was reference to another of the drawings they saw, but fortunately, they had the good taste to NOT photograph and upload that one.

Once the little girls were tucked safely in bed and the teens were recovering from their outing, Todd was ready to head to the gym to work out for a little while. He asked around to see if anyone else wanted to go and got a taker in the one teen who didn't go to the park tonight, so the two of them headed off for a little quality work out time. Normally, I would have jumped at the chance to be there and not worry about the little ones, but the thought of becoming ill while walking the track just wasn't an appealing one for me tonight. Or ever, really.

I am hoping that tomorrow brings some doctor-related relief for me and lots more love and laughter for the family. The house is very quiet right now and not just because that's all my head can handle. Everyone is relaxed, worn out and happy. Just the way they should be.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I’ve discovered something about our teens: they cannot all seem to get along at the same time. Someone always has to be the outsider, the one everyone’s mad at, the outcast of the week. I don’t know why. I do know I’d like it to stop, though.

Maybe it’s because there’s an odd number of them: 2 boys and 3 girls. When you get them paired up, someone’s left out. We’ve always made sure there was an even number of guests at birthday parties and sleepovers just to avoid the “one child left out” syndrome, but I can’t just magically add another teen to the family. Some of you are thinking, “Send one away! That will fix things,” and while it would (at least temporarily) I’m pretty sure we’d miss the one sent into exile.

Maybe it’s because none of them have ever had to really share their lives with anyone else for an extended period of time. Derrick was an only child for the first 16 years of his life, as was Chris. Britt has half-siblings, but they didn’t grow up together, so she was pretty much an only child as well. Sissy and Manna grew up together, but spent a lot of time away from each other, either by their own choice or someone else’s. Now, they’re all living together, with the addition of the little girls and us, and they have to learn how to do that, preferably without killing one another.

Lately they’ve also been comparing themselves to the others, in an effort to prove, well, I don’t know what they’re trying to prove. I get a lot of “I did this, they only did that” and “It’s not fair.”  Part of me just wants to say, “Life’s not fair,” and walk away, but I don’t. I listen to their concerns and see if there is any way I can make things a little fairer for them. Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can’t. It’s especially hard to listen to when the one complaining that someone else isn’t doing such-and-such is the one that wasn’t doing anything themselves a short time ago. You know, the pot calling the kettle black and all that.

Maybe everyone with a house full of kids goes through this at some point or another. Then again, it may be confined to those whose kids didn’t grow up together. I don’t know, but I will be happy when they all realize they are family and need to be loving and supportive to everyone, all the time. I hope that’s not just a pipe dream. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where's Waldo?

I’m sitting here waiting on the baby we’re babysitting to wake up for his midnight snack and thinking about where everyone is this weekend.

Derrick is over at Nick’s 15th birthday party, enjoying the food and company, I’m sure. I know of at least one present he got today and I’m certain he’s enjoying that with him as well.

Chris asked to spend this weekend with his grandmother, so he’s been over there since Friday night. They’ve definitely come a long way in their relationship over the past four months. I’m so very glad he now wants to spend time with her and she gets to enjoy his company and just be Grandmother now. I know she is too.

Britt had two volleyball games this afternoon and had to play the full time during both of them because they were short two players. The games were back-to-back, so she was pretty worn out. Not too worn out to spend some time with her boyfriend afterword at home, though. J

Sissy ran into a friend of hers while we were out shopping tonight. She went with her for a while so she could see her new apartment and they could catch up a little. I had to laugh when she called and asked me if she could spend the night with her tonight. My response was, “I just met her tonight and the only thing I know about her is she’s 18 and has her own apartment. That would be a no.” Fortunately, for her, she understood right away and didn’t argue with me.

This is the first time in a while that we’ve had so many kids gone at the same time. Having the hobbits asleep right now in addition, makes the house a little bit quieter than we’re used to; well, it would if Manna wasn’t so talkative. J

Think Before You Act

Because a family member allegedly chose to make the wrong decisions and ended up behind bars, several of my children are suffering. It breaks my heart to see them hurting because they are missing someone important to them. If I had the power to go back in time and show this person just how much their actions would affect everyone who loves them, I would. What I have written below is an open letter to this person, as well as to anyone else who has chosen to make the wrong decisions and left friends and family members behind.

When you choose to do something stupid and you think, “I can do whatever I want to because it’s my life and I don’t have to answer to anyone,” you forget just how many people in your life are affected by that decision. When you do something so serious that it removes you from society, your family and friends, not only does it ruin your life, but it very negatively impacts theirs as well. They don’t get to see you. They don’t get to talk to you. You don’t get to be a part of their lives. They grieve over the time they’ve lost with you. They grieve for the person you used to be and the person they wish you still were.

When things go wrong, they don’t have you to lean on for support. When things go right, you can’t be there to celebrate with them. They miss you every day, and that’s not fair to them. You made the decision to do something that cost you your freedom and yes, you are paying for that, but they are paying for it as well. They can’t magically turn off their feelings and no longer care about you or forget you exist. They carry you in their hearts and in their minds and wish every day they could have you back in their lives.

They spend countless nights crying themselves to sleep because you are not there. They feel lost and hopeless because they know there is nothing they can do to change things from the way they are. They want to know when it all went wrong; was there a breaking point that they missed? Was there something they could have done to stop you from making that decision that changed everyone’s lives? Was there something they could have said that would have made the difference?

The answer is usually no, because they didn’t make the decision for you; you made it yourself. You decided you had nothing left to lose, or maybe you thought you were above the law and your friends would never rat you out, and went out and did what you wanted to do. You made yourself feel like a big person by hurting someone else, taking their things, destroying their property or whatever it was that you felt would make you happy at the time.

Did you even take a second to think about how this action would affect your family? Your parents? Siblings? Children? Friends? Aunts? Uncles? Grandparents? ANYONE?  Probably not. You were in the moment, only thinking about yourself and how to prove that you were bigger, “badder” and better than the other person. Now, you have all the time in the world to think about these things, but will you? I don’t know.

It doesn’t appear to me that you spent a lot of time thinking about anyone else when you were free and living among your friends and family. You didn’t think about how your actions would affect the lives of your children because if you had, you wouldn’t have done the things you did.  I’d like to think the person they remember who was always there for them, always took care of them, looked out for them and supported them is still in there somewhere. If that’s true, that person is buried very deeply inside you because you certainly weren’t doing any of those things when you were out looking for/preparing for trouble.

Are you sitting there thinking about how you can make things up to your friends and family? Are you thinking about how you’ll do things differently if and when you ever get out? Are you making plans for how to make sure you don’t end up back in there again? Are you worried that what you’ve done will impact your family for the rest of their lives and that they will have to live with the stigma of what you’ve done?

Or are you in there thinking of ways to get back at the person who stepped up and said you need to pay for what you’ve done? Are you coming up with new and better ways of getting into more trouble if you get out? Are you refusing to own up to your mistakes and learn from them?

I certainly hope it’s the former, for everyone’s sake, but I’m not holding my breath. I also don’t expect you to ever understand just how much pain you’ve caused. The only thing I know to do is to be there for the ones you’ve left behind, try to answer their questions and love them unconditionally. It can’t ever make up for your loss, but it will show them there are people in this life they can always count on. I’m just sad that one of those people isn’t you.