Today was the day Sonya and Jesse Wilson had been anxiously awaiting. They had a 9 AM appointment Sunday morning with Mrs. Richards, the local social worker, to finalize their adoption papers. The Wilsons had dreamed of having a large, diverse family and providing a loving home for those who’d had a rough start in life.
The sun was shining and the air was brisk for early spring in Willow Creek. Sonya and Jesse kept an eye on the toddlers as they walked toward the front door, wobbling a bit every now and then. They could walk, but not well. Since there were six of them and only two parents, walking was the only option.
Sonya held the door open while Jesse stayed behind, watching each toddler enter, some more steadily than others. Fiona nearly tipped over on the porch but quickly righted herself. Sonya counted off the toddlers as they entered: 1-Isaac, 2-Samuel, 3-Isabel, 4-Fiona, 5-Wyatt and 6-Annie.
Sonya smiled at Jesse as he walked in behind the toddlers. “That’s everyone,” she said.
Jesse chuckled, “I did a headcount as they walked in, too.”
Sonya laughed in return. “We’re going to get lots of practice counting to six.”
Anxious to get potty training underway, Jesse immediately got started with Fiona, while Sonya taught Annie. In their haste, they hadn’t even changed the kids clothes — they were still in their outerwear.
Meanwhile, Isaac and Isabel stacked colorful blocks and Samuel watched toddler videos. Wyatt babbled to Blarffy, the giant teddy bear, and then sat down on the floor, joining the block-stacking party. Once Fiona and Annie were done on the potties, Sonya and Jesse changed the kiddos into their everyday clothes.
Isabel babbled at Sonya, lifting her arms. So, Sonya crouched down and gave her a hug, which seemed to satisfy her.
Isaac was next in line for potty training, and Jesse settled him on one of purple, boys’ potties. Isaac looked up at his Daddy like he wasn’t quite sure what was going on.
While Sonya potty trained Samuel, Annie and Fiona got busy stacking blocks. Isabel was having an animated babble-fest with Blarffy.
With Jesse’s coaching, Isaac figured out what was happening. When he was finished, Jesse said, “Good job, Isaac!” Isaac jumped up and down and clapped with glee. Sonya was still coaching Samuel when Jesse went looking for Wyatt or Isabel, the only two who hadn’t had a turn on the potty yet.
Jesse found them both in the living room, dancing to the portable stereo. He approached Wyatt, about to pick him up, and was rebuffed.
Wyatt clenched his little fists and glared up at his Daddy. Dancing vs. potty training? Is that even a question?
Somehow Jesse cajoled Wyatt into thinking potty training could be fun, too. He whisked Wyatt up into his arms and carried him back into the kids’ bedroom.
Sonya was still there training Samuel, who was being a little stinker, literally. It looked –and smelled — like he’d be finishing up soon.
Jesse grimaced while Sonya smiled and cheered for Samuel. “Atta boy, Samuel! Good job!”
“It’s smelling pretty ripe in here, babe,” Jesse said.
“I know — isn’t it great? Samuel just pooped on the potty for the first time.”
Jesse chuckled. “I suppose so. I’ll be glad when diapers are a distant memory. Those suckers cost a fortune.”
“Everything does when you multiply by six,” said Sonya. “But we get the awesome parts times six, too. How cool is that?”
“Pretty cool. You have such a positive outlook on life. It’s one of the many things I love about you, babe.”
“And you actually love cleaning! What’s not to love about that?”
Jesse smiled at the comment. With his penchant for neatness, he was sure he’d find it challenging having six toddlers underfoot.
While Samuel finished up on the potty, Jesse coached Wyatt. A few feet away, Fiona was fascinated by the colorful images on the blocks.
The last toddler to be trained was Isabel. Sonya found her in the living room, dancing and swinging her arms about wildly.
She didn’t give Sonya any trouble when she picked her up and carried her back into the bedroom.
Sonya walked back into the room just in time to see Fiona pushing Annie away. Annie had tried to hug her new sister, but Fiona was not in the mood.
Annie bounced back quickly, the little angel, smiling at Isaac who was playing with his action figure.
To Jesse’s dismay, Samuel wasn’t the only stinky little guy. Wyatt had a gassy stomach, too.
They’d been pretty lucky so far, training four toddlers without a single potty accident. Wyatt was the first one to overflow his potty, on Jesse’s watch.
Jesse’s inner neat freak cringed, and he quickly cleaned up the mess. He felt terrible about Wyatt’s accident, doubting himself. He wanted to be the best father possible to his new family.
Jesse took a much-needed breather, joining Annie and Fiona who were dancing in the living room.
As it turns out, Jesse wasn’t the only one who was upset about Wyatt’s potty mishap. Wyatt was sad for a few moments, too, but quickly got over it.
Sonya finished up with Isabel, who also overflowed the potty.
Sonya headed toward the kitchen and found Jesse dancing with two of their daughters in the living room.
“Jesse, I want to get started on lunch, but Isabel had a potty accident. Could you please clean it up?”
“I’m on it, babe.” Jesse cleaned the messy potty and then mopped up the spill.
Sonya was making grilled cheese sandwiches when she saw Isabel head out the back door. Her maternal instinct to yank her back in the house was quelled as she remembered the reason they’d bought a house in this Willow Creek neighborhood. There was a complete lack of crime. This was a small town where people looked out for each other, and that’s where she and Jesse wanted to raise their family.
Isabel carefully backed down the stairs and folded her arms across her chest. I did it all by myself, she thought to herself.
A wave of sadness came over Isabel. How come nobody’s coming outside to play with me?
After he’d mopped the bedroom floor, Jesse emptied the tiny trash can. I’m sure Sonya thought it was cute, but it sure doesn’t hold much. Ugh — I hate trash.
Annie had put on her coat and was following Jesse.
As Jesse dumped the trash bag into the large bin, Annie went straight for Isabel and gave her a big hug. That put a smile back on Isabel’s face. As soon as the hug was over, Annie headed back in the house. Mission accomplished.
Jesse sought out Wyatt when he came back in the house. They sat down in our expansive hallway and Jesse attempted to teach Wyatt basic needs using flashcards.
Isabel was still outside and Fiona went to see what she was missing. Isabel was excited that her new sister was coming out to play with her.
Fiona promptly turned around and carefully climbed back up the stairs. After a few minutes of sadness and tears, Isabel put an end to her outdoor adventure.
Most of the toddlers took naps either before or after their late lunch. Getting them all on a schedule was going to be a challenge. The plan was to get the kids on the potties again before bedtime but some of them were too tired and had already crawled into bed.
Jesse and Sonya managed to get Isabel and Wyatt to use the potty before calling it a night.
At the end of a long day, Sonya was less than enthused about cleaning up another messy potty. Wyatt toddled off to bed without a care in the world.
Finally, all the kids were sound asleep.
Jesse and Sonya headed into their bedroom and changed into their pajamas. They were both pretty tired but eager to celebrate achieving a major life goal.
Anxious for a good night’s sleep, they settled for a quickie.
Not surprisingly, that worked out better for Jesse than it did for Sonya. Jesse was pleasantly satisfied, while Sonya felt she’d performed poorly. I’m sure it’s just because I’m exhausted, she thought.
They both dozed off within minutes.
At 2 AM, Wyatt had a nightmare and wanted his Mommy. He ran to his parents’ bedroom as fast as his little legs could carry him, which wasn’t nearly fast enough to escape the monster he was certain was chasing him.
As soon as he entered their room, Wyatt started to wail in earnest, waking both Sonya and Jesse.
Sonya threw back the covers and crawled out of bed.
Jesse whispered hoarsely, “Babe, who is it?”
“It’s Wyatt. He must’ve had a nightmare.”
“I can get him if you want.”
“No, I’ve got him. Go back to sleep. You can get up next time.”
Before Sonya even left the room, Jesse had conked back out.
Sonya crouched down to Wyatt’s level and said gently, “What’s wrong, baby? Did you have a nightmare?”
Wyatt threw his arms around his Mommy’s neck, his little body still shaking from crying so hard. “I’ve got you, sweetie,” Sonya said as she picked him up. “Come on. Mommy will read you a story.” Wyatt looked up at her with bright blue eyes and a sad expression as he clung to her.
It took quite a while to get Wyatt calmed down and back to sleep. By then, Sonya was wide awake.
She hadn’t had a chance to take a shower before bed and decided to take advantage of the peace and quiet while it lasted.
It was nearly 5 AM, and Sonya decided to make breakfast and leave it on the counter so the kids could grab something if they woke up hungry. There was no way she could function on only an hour or two of sleep. Jesse would have to take the next shift.
Author’s Note: I have to share what went through my mind as I looked at the first photo of our toddlers. Is it me, or does it remind anyone else of the National Geographic documentary, March of the Penguins? 🙂
For some reason, when the game started, everyone was positioned at the side of the house, so they all had to walk around to get to the front door. Watching six toddlers waddle down the street made me think of penguins. (If you’re interested, the link will bring you to the official movie trailer.)
At the end of each day, I’ll take a quick look at everyone’s skill levels. First, the toddlers:
We have 7 days to max all toddler skills — that’s level 5 for everything except potty skill, which is capped at level 3. We have a long way to go.
Sonya and Jesse have picked up a few skills as well — most notably, parenting skill. Sonya’s traits, combined with the lot traits, have helped her level up in cooking very quickly as well. Each meal she cooks raises her cooking skill by a full level. That’s good because they’ve got a lot of mouths to feed. 😉