Four children are busying themselves as I type this. Two are helping each other make a remote-controlled Dodge Charger leave marks in my sideboards and other people's shins. One is diligently drawing. One is outside making fairy wands out of sticks and leaves and string. Its remarkably quiet -- FOR NOW.
Did you know that any sound about 85 decibels can cause hearing loss? 85 decibels is the equivalent of heavy city traffic. A lawnmower or snow-blower is about 90 decibels. A dog barking is about 75. Three bipolar children failing to modulate their tone of voice while arguing over whose turn it is on the trampoline? I'm gonna guess about 105.
This week SG's folks are out of town and they usually babysit his younger sisters' kids during the week. He was tagged with sitter duty. We've had my two here all day yesterday and today as well. Its gone remarkably smoothly, considering. One of the girls also has multiple diagnoses, in fact she is just moving on to middle school from the Extended Resource classroom my son will enter in the fall. She's a very bright girl and quite engaging. She's much like my son in that during conversations with her you frequently get the feeling you're talking to a very small adult.
A few years ago, having four children with this level of energy and dysfunction would have been unimaginable. I guess my skills for managing the chaos have improved, as has my ability to choose when to intervene and when to let things take their natural course. I've gained a much better sense of what really constitutes a disaster and what things I can simply smile quietly at while they work themselves out.
What I've noticed most about the three bipolars (one of them aspie) is how very BOSSY they all are. The one kid in the middle who is neurotypical is fortunately a very low key kid, and doesn't get her feathers ruffled by the non-typicals. Here is a kid who is growing compassion and empathy every single day. Here is a kid who has little control over the impact her sibling is having and yet who is handling with a remarkable steadiness and calm. It can't be easy - in fact I suspect it is harder when one child has issues and the other does not, if only because as much as these kids of mine fight, they GET each other. Even so, this girl seems to have a unique understanding and empathy for her sibling and for my children as well. She gravitates from one brouhaha to the next, distracting a crying child or engaging a yelling child to come play a game with her. She has a remarkable skill for someone so very young.
When I grow up I want to be just like her, navigating the spilled lego boxes and the tantrums with equanimity and grace.
In other news, did you know how fast you go through a loaf of bread making lunches for four children? Holy crap.