Okay, I admit it, we have not traveled much since expanding our family. There is a two-fold reason: A family of seven does not fit easily into most hosts’ homes nor a single hotel room. But that’s the secondary reason.
Visiting people when you have three toddlers, one or two with attachment issues, can be challenging. Almost a year ago, we stayed with Dear Hubby’s parents for the first time. I was a nervous wreck. They have a lovely home with many valuable treasures, but that isn’t the biggest concern; my real worry was fit-throwing and general anti-social behavior. We had plenty of that, rest assured. We did our best to explain to the folks that the kids were nervous. Both our then 2- and 3-year-old had experienced numerous moves before coming to us; new locales and people made them uneasy, and they responded as young children do: with fits, tantrums, and general misbehavior. In truth, it was exhausting.
As Thanksgiving and our scheduled visit with my in-laws approached, I felt more and more uneasy. The oldest of the three Littles is now 4 ,and he has been having a rough couple of weeks. It just seemed like bad timing to me. When I found out the other dinner guests included an elderly friend and a childless bachelor, my anxiety increased. I kept wondering if we should cancel and just stay at home.
What a difference a year makes. These kids really pulled out all the stops. They weren’t just okay– they were magnificent. They chatted quietly at dinner; hey, they actually sat and ate dinner! They were polite and friendly; they reminded me of the older girls at this age. We stayed for three days and only had two time-outs and not a single tantrum. I think that would be remarkable for any 2-, 3- and 4-year-old.
It is helpful to remember that all relationships have seasons. We have been in a season of building faith in our relationships and building community. It will be interesting to see what is possible for each of the kids as they become secure in their place in our family and can turn their energy to other things. I can’t wait!