Previously Published: Thursday, May, 5 2016
Embracing the bewildered reality that even though my five children have the same father, their personalities are distinctively unique. I had to make daily, mental adjustments reminding myself, that they were still individuals. Take my youngest two daughters J-Middle and Rissy-Roo, who are approximately 18 months apart. It was a very common scene to see the older toddler J-Middle, always cuddling Rissy-Roo, like a mother koala. In spite of the awkwardness of their sizes, she was very protective, pulling her younger sister around as if she were hauling an oversized luggage through the airport. Rissy-Roo soaked up the extra coddling and attention she was receiving and was oblivious to the fact that her older sister was actually struggling to carry her around.
I’m not sure when they started to separate into their own little worlds but I’m sure it had a lot to do when Rissy-Roo began walking and talking more than J-Middle. J-Middle was and still is the quieter of the brood. As most middle siblings were, she was more observant and very hesitant before making any decisions. Of course, Rissy-Roo was the more flamboyant one, more lackadaisical in her decision-making process and she was talking in full sentences by the time she was one year old. Rissy-Roo talked nonstop most times and for J-Middle that was too much talking for any one person having to bear all that babbling, as J-Middle expressed to me once she became older. J-Middle was one of the least expressionistic, persons I have ever known, watching a lunar eclipse would provide more excitement. Her personality amazes me as her quiet demeanor challenges the noisy presence of her siblings.
Once, while we were stilling living in our 700-foot square home, which I dubbed our version of “The House the Three Pigs Built” " she came into my bedroom, the entrances to each of the three rooms were parallel to each and within a brief moment it was possible to walk from the bedroom through the small living room and into the kitchen. “Mom, can I cook some pancakes?” J-Middle said in her very quiet and steady voice. “Sure, just as long as your older brother is helping you.” Was my confident reply. She turned and walked from my room back through the short living room, and into the kitchen and moments later returned just as quietly as she left. “Mom…” again with the same quiet and steady voice “… the stove is on fire.” I don’t know if I was in more shock that the stove was on fire or the fact that my child told me without a terabyte of alarm in her voice. Leaping from the bedside, and dashing into the kitchen with turbo speed, I didn’t remember touching the floor of our small living room. As I entered the kitchen, just as J-Middle had expressed, there was indeed a six-foot tongue of flame emerging from the left eye of the stove, licking the white ceiling, leaving sooted slobber behind. My oldest son was standing to the right side of the stove, eyes white with horror; I reached for the fire extinguisher, which was stored underneath the kitchen sink, and quickly smothered the flames on the stove. Meanwhile, J-Middle stood in the doorway of the kitchen…emotionless as always. Rissy-Roo on the other hand, was always to be heard long before she was seen. Many times when I would take her to the grocery store, she would ask for everything on the shelf… “ Can I have that, what about this, oh, Mommy I want those too!” It was difficult to concentrate on the best deals when she was constantly chatting in my ear. J-Middle, on the other hand, would walk through the complete store in silence, just observing.
Many times early in the wee hours of the morning, while deep in my sleep I would feel the gentle touch of a chubby little hand, tapping my arm “Mommy, feed me, feed me…Mommy, Mommy, feed me!” Rissy-Roo was no more than a year old when she developed the habit of waking me long before my alarm would go off. Who taught this child to talk? And why didn’t they give her an on-and-off button? She was also known for the emotional dramatic scenes when a simple yes or no would have worked. Her father found it difficult to even begin to discipline her because she would turn the waterworks on so hard and quickly you would have thought Niagara Falls was relocated to our home, leaving him feeling too guilty to administer the necessary punishment. Once, I discovered Rissy-Roo sobbing, horribly as she
sat in the middle of the floor, frightened and distraught, I picked her up to find out what had caused her such distress… she held out her little finger where the fingernail had torn, not down to the quick, but torn off. Really? Was all of that really necessary? Well, to her it was. As they two grew older their personalities became more distinct especially when both of them were in the same room. We eventually moved from “The House the Three Pigs Built”, due to very obvious dangers that I will not discuss at this time. We moved into our first spacious apartment in Florida. Our apartment was located on the southeast side of Interstate 95, whereas I worked on a cat-a-corner on the west side of the same interstate. The driving time was about ten minutes with traffic and lights. Even though the distance was no more than about 3 miles apart, I could see the treetops from the location where I lived, from the third-floor window of my place of employment.
I worked in a call center, we were required to remain in our seats at all times except of course for bathroom breaks and lunch, my back was towards the windows, oblivious to any activity outside of each phone call. Each phone activity was paramount because commissions were paid based on the amount of money collected during each call, so it was important to finish each call efficiently before going to the next. While in the middle of one of my calls, my supervisor came to me and said I had an emergency at home. I ended the call as soon as possible and went to answer the phone. It was Rissy-Roo, her voice elevated from fear, and crying. “Mom, the trees are falling! It's lightning I’m scared, I think it’s a tornado!” Looking out the window, southward towards our home, I could see the black rain clouds, thunder, and lighting over the area. It wasn’t raining, nor thundering currently at my location, I wasn’t sure if we would soon be hit or if it would blow over. Trying to think of the best thing to do, I knew I couldn’t drive into what could be potentially bad weather either. Quickly I provided her with instructions for her and her siblings to go to the downstairs apartment, where our friendly neighbor and his wife would know what actions to take. By the time my shift was over, so was the storm. I hurried home to my children. I knocked on my downstairs neighbor's door, expecting to express my gratitude for an untimely babysitting request. Instead, we were both surprised because my children were not there! I quickly scaled the steps to our second-floor apartment and as I opened the door, I saw my two oldest daughters watching TV in the living room, Rissy-Roo apparently in her bedroom lying down. Confused, I asked, “Why didn’t you go downstairs during the storm?” J-Middle, in her quiet and steady voice….”Mom, there was no tornado, you know Rissy-Roo she is scared of everything!” Raising my five children was the greatest experience of my life. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would with great joy. I learned just as much about life from each one of them as they learned from me, it's just paradoxically so!