In Defense of My Large Family
By Silvano Purpura-Pontoniere

Just recently I read something about the Child Free Movement. It is a group of people who either don't want children themselves or hate children with a passion. Some even go as far as making up names for children, such as "--- Demons" and "Crotch Droppings."
I am part of a large family, so I am around children all the time. I don't understand how people have such animosity toward families like ours. It can get frustrating, of course, but it will never get so bad that I might feel compelled to hate anyone.
Sure, is a crowded house, living with eight other brothers and sisters. There is always someone to talk to, or to get on your nerves. Of course, it didn't begin that way.
It started way back in 1988, when my oldest brother, Ali, was born. A year later came another brother, Eli. Then in 1991, I came into the picture. For two years that I have no recollection of, we lived as a family of three children. But then, a sister, Lucia, joined, and only 14 months later came another sister, Flavia. Two years after that, I had another sister, Nina, followed two years later by a brother named Attiano. Two years after THAT came another brother, Liam, who preceded the last, another boy, who went by the name of Roan.
I can't seem to remember living in a smaller family. It just seems like it is always been a large group. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it tends to get frustrating every now and then. The worst part is probably the mess it creates. In the kitchen, one of the younger kids (never me, I swear) will make a shake, spill some on the counter and leave it. Then another little one will change and leave his clothes on the living room floor. And if someone pulls down a board game, it is left out until someone else comes along and takes care of it. Not all of the kids are what some would call "responsible" youths yet. In fact, about half are the exact opposite. So there is never a time when there is not some little disaster that needs to be taken care of.
But then there are all the kids to take care of those little screw-ups. That task usually falls down to the five oldest kids. But usually one or two of those five, like Eli and Ali, are out with friends, and another one or two are out at some program, so it ends up that one or two very frustrated people end up taking care of the glitches in the system. Fortunately, it is not the same people every day. Sometimes it is me and Eli, sometimes it is just me, sometimes it is Ali and Lucia. We do have chores and mine is sweeping the floor. But if I am out, and my chore has to be done, it falls to someone else. But then when that someone else is out, I will wind up doing their chore. So in the end it all works out pretty well, even if hardly anyone realizes it.
And then come all the questions I run into from anybody who just learned I come from such a large family. And No. 1 on that list is: "Nine children! How do your parents manage?" If that is your question, don’t come asking me. I am at a loss to how they manage. The best answer I can give you: magic. I actually went home and asked my mother and she said the same thing: magic.
A lot of my friends who are single children are amazed that I have not gone crazy yet, but all the adults who were single children that I have met tell me that I am one of the luckiest people alive. I don't know who to believe -- I guess they are both right. Despite the mess it makes, and besides the nerves that it very often frays, I believe that having a large family is much better than being a single child.
Of course, I have not had the experience of being a single child. Sometimes you just want to be alone, and whatever you try, you will always have a little kid asking you questions, or bugging you about some unimportant thing, or possibly even bugging you about an important thing. It is impossible to try to read a book, or watch an R-rated movie, or ANY movie, without the little kids all over you. But on those occasions when you want to have people around, well, you don't even need to say the word. They are already there.
- Pacific News Service


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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