When myself and the wife talked about having kids, we had a number in mind. I was thinking our number was between three and five kids. I wanted a larger family. My wife’s number was pretty much three kids and we just happened to stop at three. She must be psychic or something because she predicted correctly. It was life changing when our first daughter came into this world. I will say this time and time again, going from zero kids to one kid is the hardest transition. Yes, having three kids or five kids is harder than having one kid, but when you only have one kid, then that is the hardest for you. So, I’m not trying to single anyone out here. Raising kids is hard work no matter if you have one kid or five kids.
Our second child came along and she made us feel like fantastic parents. That kid was the easiest baby you could ever have raised. She ate well, slept well, didn’t fuss much, travelled well and made us feel like we were becoming experts at baby wrangling. I remember the experience felt very manageable. We had two adults and two children. Using a football reference, this is considered “Man on Man” coverage. In football the defender has an assigned offensive player and they are responsible for that one man. In the parenting world, each parent can manage one child apiece. The wife had the baby and I had the toddler. We were kicking butt in the parenting world and making it look easy. I used this feeling to justify going for a third child right away. If two was only a little bit harder, then three should be just as manageable right?
No. I talked to someone about this before we had our third child. They had three children and said going from two to three children, with all of them that close together, changes the game. What did that guy know! He couldn’t see how awesome we were doing with our two kids. He doesn’t know what we are capable of handling. We’re basically parenting role models for the entire world. Jeez man! Well, I will say that man I talked to was right. When we had our third child, the game changed. We went from “Man on Man” defense to a “Zone” defense.
The “Zone” defense in football has the defender guarding a specific zone of a field. You could have multiple people running in and out of your zone, but you stay and defend your zone while relying on others to defend their zones. When you have more than two kids, you move into a “Zone” defense. There are only two adults to satisfy the needs of three or more children. Everything becomes so much harder. Tracking the children becomes harder. Going anywhere outside the house becomes harder. It really changes the game on you and I don’t even want to imagine how hard that is if you have more than one kid at the same time. It’s even tougher when you are at home alone with all three kids; now were playing three against one. That turns into a big freaking zone man!
Here is a perfect example on how the “Zone” defense quickly breaks down on you. I’m at home alone with the three children while the wife is at work. I put the baby in the baby swing while the other two are in the bedroom. My defense is not in the bedroom. Right now my defense is with the baby and in the kitchen preparing some lunch. I wanted to make cheesy eggs that day. It’s really simple to do. Gets some eggs, beat the eggs, cook the eggs, and then put some kraft singles on the them to cheese them up. Everything was laid out on the counter and ready to go in the kitchen. I turned the stove on and then heard a thump in the bedroom.
My ears perked up because usually proceeded a large thump is crying and screaming. Sure enough, 5 seconds after the thump my oldest is crying like she just cut her leg off. I run to the bedroom to see what happened. She fell of the bed and landed on the floor. My defense had just moved into the bedroom so that was my new “Zone”. The defense was not in the kitchen with the stove top on. My middle child used this opportunity to exploit my defensive weakness.
The middle child runs to the kitchen while I’m checking for cuts and broken bones in the bedroom. She pulls a chair up to stove and begins to “help daddy” with lunch. She throws about 10 kraft singles on the hot pan, gets down, and pushes the chair back. She comes back into the bedroom like nothing every happened. After consoling the oldest and kissing boo boos, I went back to the kitchen. I could not believe what I was looking at. There was a bubbling mess of burning cheese and plastic in the hot pan. How the hell did that happen so fast. I’m sure my daughter was just trying to help, but what a mess.
That’s the difference between “Man on Man” coverage and “Zone” defense. All parents know this. That’s why they put up miniature walls (baby gates) all over their house. They are trying to limit the amount of zones they have to cover. Kids are curious. Kids love to explore, and climb, and draw on the walls. So, if you are running a “Zone” defense in your house, just like in football, expect the offensive to figure it out once in a while.
It took me a long time to clean that pan. I was really embracing the suck that day.