On the way to a family camping excursion a few weeks ago, Hampton Noodle, our Great Dane, stole a jalapeno, cheddar bagel from the hand of our youngest child and snarfled it down in one exuberant swallow. It wasn't his fault. The Suburban was packed so full of gear that he had to ride with the kids and that didn't leave him a lot of room to maneuver. The bagel was very close to his nose.
We shook our heads and drove a few more miles to the turn for the lake. Four winding bends into the last country rode to our destination, Hampton regurgitated the entire bagel on the floor of the SUV with a particularly foul, wet gagging noise. All three children across the back row instantly began gagging and crying. Our daughter pulled her feet up beside her in the captain's seat and shrieked uncontrollably. The baby giggled, amused by the commotion.
I may have cried as well and I definitely yelled inappropriately at Matt because anything that pukes in my general vicinity becomes his responsibility. We cleaned the floor, gave the dog a drink, and soldiered on.
That was not the only catastrophe of our 48-hour trip, including the baby crying from midnight to 3:00 am despite my best efforts to do anything he wanted and the moment I inadvertently set off our car alarm at 5:00 am a mere two hours after the baby finally stopped crying. I'm sure you can't wait to invite us over.
The weekend was a blast and the dog was so happy playing in the lake he forgave us for the sneak jalapeno peppers. When people ask me how we "do" five kids, I usually say something deflecting like "oh we love it" or "you could do it." The real answer, I think, is humor.
The chaos has to be funny, even when you're crying over vomit. The friends you make have to have a sense of humor too, even when you are running 100 mph down their gravel driveway at 5:00 am because you set off your DAMN car alarm and you don't have your keys. Hopefully, when the dust settles, these are stories that connect you, not moments of apology. (Although, apologize we did! With words and a gift of coffee!)
There's a popular Polish proverb that always makes me laugh in its sarcastic disavowal of responsibility for the embarrassing antics of others. "Not my circus. Not my monkeys."
Except in my head, I often have to change it. Yep. That's my circus. Those are my monkeys. But they never bite, and we always put things back the way we found them, and we're usually good for a belly laugh or two.