Five Under Five
It was January 2011. It had literally been days since my father passed away when I learned that my sister-in-law, Leti, had been assaulted by her significant other, again. Amor made the four hour trip to pick her and her three children (ages 4, 2, and 8 months) up. The trip back to our home was much longer, as there was a throw up incident on the way, (which ruined the portable DVD player). Mica was 2 at the time and I was used to caring for her and Hope, who was 1. I was pretty used to keeping things like toys organized, categorized, and rotated. But with the addition of three toddler/preschoolers (who only spoke and understood Spanish) all that went to Hades in a hand basket.
It was freezing outside so we were cooped up most days with five kids under the age of five inside our small, three bedroom home. For the first few weeks, Leti spent time cooking and hanging around the house, catching up with her sister (my other sister-in-law), Tia. All the while, the kids ran wild. It was a madhouse and I was certainly not used to that kind of chaos. With Mica and Hope, I had a relaxed routine, which involved eating meals at regular times, scheduled activities, and playtime – my biggest rule being: put one set of toys away before bringing out a new set.
But these new kids had absolutely no concept of that rule. And all kind of “Travesuras” (or mischief) ensued. Destruction was everywhere. They would pull toys and clothes out of drawers or off shelves and throw them everywhere, without even looking at them! The walls were colored on, play dough was smushed into the carpet, crumbs on the floor, poop all over the place, nick-knacks broken, stuffed animals’ heads ripped clean off, even electronics destroyed (you wouldn’t believe the toys I found stuffed in the VCR). I learned that keeping scissors in the van for emergencies was a bad idea too, when one of the seat belts was cut right in half! Leti’s idea of cleaning was foreign to me as well. I would sometimes come out in the mornings to find the house looking so neat and clean, only to find that everything had been thrown in one big box. All the puzzle pieces were mixed in together, along with blocks, socks, and rocks. It’s funny that with all that destruction, my biggest pet peeve was the brand new markers Mica had gotten for Christmas that were thrown in the mix, with the lids off them, all dried out and useless. Leti, herself, nicknamed the brood “Los Tornados.”
Leti eventually found a job for a while, which left me the primary caretaker of the babes. It took all my imagination to keep them entertained and from going stir-crazy in that house mid-winter. I turned the living room into a gymnastic play area, with places for them to jump, roll, and tumble. I turned my bedroom into a dance zone, with disco lights and high-energy Veggie Tales music. Mica’s room was toy city. The kitchen table became an arts and craft zone.
I ended up having so much fun with those little ones. I fell in love with them. Any time they started to drive me a little crazy, I just looked at the magazine cut-out I had stuck on the wall after one of our craft projects that said, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” It was amazing to me that I was able to handle that, even though they only stayed with us for a few months. I guess God was preparing my heart for what was to come, and at the same time offering a beautiful distraction from the devastation of daddy’s death.
I never imagined that I would one day have my own little brood of “Earthquakers,” but now that I do, I feel blessed beyond belief, regardless of any “travesuras” they come up with. As always I pray for blessing, protection, and salvation for each of those little ones. I love you all so much and you’ll be in my heart forever.
Double Talk Quote: “¿Quieres jugar conmigo?” – Mica, who at the time had not been formally taught Spanish, but picked it up from her cousins.
Verse: Matthew 19:14: Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Term that had lost its meaning: organized
Relatable Lyrics: Veggie Tales: “My Day”
“In my bed I start to pray
And tell God all about my day…I had some trouble sharing toys
And during rest time, made some noise
The walls are not for coloring….In my bed so quietly
I rest in knowing
God loves me”