I pick up four pairs of socks and three unmatched singletons, evidence that I have no influence or control over the 7 children in my home.
I can count to seven.
Seven is indeed my favourite number but I cannot say with any degree of certainly why I have four additional children in my house? Did I double book myself twice? How has this come about?
I give up and commence snack creation for the masses as malnutrition is imminent. I have a basic knowledge of four of them, one typical, 3 autistic. The overall ratio is a challenge, but probably only for me. I calculate the probability and possibility that one or more additional children will still be present at supper time? Which one, or more, is likely to be forgotten about or subject to the delayed parent, who drowns in traffic and rain? Is there any food substance on the planet that five autistic children and two typical children all eat, preferably something that I already have on hand?
I have a 33.5 ounce catering carton of Goldfish Crackers. If push comes to shove, will any parent thank me for feeding their child four and a half ounces of Goldfish or shall I been condemned as a gluten wrecker? Is four and a half ounces of Goldfish enough to sustain life for a period of 4 to 5 hours? How many calories does the average active child require per hour anyway? Why do I not already know any of these things?
During the car journey from school, I managed to determine that 5 people can just about contemplate the challenge of drinking water in a strange home because they have soda free, juice free variety of autism, by personal preference. I have no Dr.Pepper, Sprite or Coke for my daughter’s pal, who is not impressed with the water option.
I learn, to my surprise, that American girls drink neither milk nor orange juice, even under exigent circumstances. Even more surprising, is the fact that American girls do not eat Goldfish Crackers because they are considered baby food, or in the alternative, that they ruin a diet. I am alarmed that a ten year old girl is knowledgeable, extremely knowledgeable, about diets at all.
“What it is be?” hollers my seven year old as we burst into the kitchen. “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” “What is what dear?” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” bellows one. “That stinky smell?” Children gather around the screamer and the source of the stink. “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” Chorus two. “What is that thing anyways?” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” creeps the mantra. “It’s a bread maker. Where does that phrase come from? It’s nearly February.” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” Chant three “A bread maker? Geez I’ve never seen such a thing.” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” Call four. “Sure smells good. Is it ready yet? I think it comes from 'Olive the Other Reindeer' movie.” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” Shout five at an ever increasing volume. “Another couple of minutes, you can see it on the display, the LED.” Little faces peer with interest through the little glass window at the billowy loaf. “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” They’re stuck, all of them. “Can you eat it?” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” “Most certainly, in just a few secs. What comes after stereo? If there’s five of them, it can’t be quadraphonic?” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” They repeat. “I don’t know, but it sure is loud. Can it be our snack?” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” I’m used to 2 repeating a phrase. I have adapted to 4 children repeating a phrase, once a week, on a Friday afternoon. I incapable of adjusting to 5 children repeating the same phrase with the required immediacy. I glance at my ear plugs with longing. “Of course.” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” Despite the noise, folklore infiltrates my troubled mind: ‘sing out of season, get trouble without reason.’ It has a whole new significance. “Why is it so……..hot? And why are they so loud?” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” “Because it’s cooking and because there’s five of them. O.k. you can say that three more times and then I don’t want to hear it again. Deal?” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” “You cook bread?” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” “Yes, or rather bake.” “Christmas! Bah boogie home!” “Times up guys. Time to choose another phrase.” I lift the bread out and envelop everyone in a cloud of steam. They all take a step backwards as I wield the bread knife and place a slice on each plate. The girls leap on the loot to take it to the table. We are all assembled, a jug, ice free awaits with tumblers. We eat the diet of cell mates, free of a chain gang, all seven on bread and water.
Silent munching reigns for a few moments……before they start, again.