It turns out two families are better than one

If someone asks me “What’s happening in your life?” I seem to be pressed to respond with anything that’s exciting.

Well. That used to be the case.

That’s changed. With the addition of four people at our house, something is always happening.

Let me explain.

For the past two years two friends have volunteered to take care of our grandson. The mother-daughter team is always there (or almost always) Monday through Friday. After school and during summers we see the inclusion of the daughter’s two girls who are currently 12 and 13 years old.

We’ve been through snow days together, times when the power was off or the roads were just too bad for them to travel to their home in the Twain area.

Then quite unexpectedly they needed a new place to live. That’s not easy in Quincy. Anyone who’s had to try to find a rental knows exactly how difficult that can be.

So, with this in mind, coupled with the fact that we had a little extra room in our home, we discussed the situation and invited the family of four to move in with us.

What’s become a cliché is absolutely true, and by opening our home to another family that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” becomes truer every day.

Besides the additional support that the Plumas Unified School District offers to our five-year-old grandson, we now have almost 24/7 care for him.

It begins in the morning when Jodi is up getting her own two girls off to junior high. Caden is right there in the mix as he gets dressed and gets his early-morning cereal, toast, bacon or whatever he will eat. There are reminders that he needs to get dressed (I lay out his spiffy outfit the night before and then he makes his own adjustments — different pants or shoes and the inclusion of his little leather belt). There are reminders to wash his face and hands and brush his teeth. As he bounces around the kitchen, living room and hallway, there are now several sets of eyes to make sure all of these occur before his little bus arrives.

There are now lots of hugs and kisses as he heads out the door, and sometimes there are several of us waiting as the bus pulls up when school is done.

Right when Caden gets home and Papa and grandma are still at work, Jodi or Bambi get him something to eat.

Something to interest him in an early afternoon snack can go from fish sticks to chicken nuggets, mac ’n cheese, canned spaghetti, peanut butter sandwiches or bean dip and chips.

Then it’s homework time. Caden, just like his mother, is horrible when it comes to doing homework with his Papa or myself. It’s a struggle. It’s frustrating. It’s just plain bad. But Jodi organizes everything, he sits down at his little oak desk and they get it done.

When night falls, it’s time to listen to Caden read. He breezes along with rhyming three letter words and simple sentences. We all clap and cheer — sometimes to the point where he puts his little head down in embarrassed pleasure.

Not all of the stress is gone. But now my husband and I can take breathers. Tom can get work done around the house, at the computer, watch a few minutes of the nightly news.

I still find Caden and the dogs under foot when I’m trying to cook, but there are more people to get them somewhere else besides in the corner of the kitchen where I prep stuff or in the pathway from the sink to the stove.

At night, there are more people to encourage Caden that it’s time for a bath or to change into his pajamas. There are also a lot more hugs and kisses and voices saying goodnight.

On the flip side, the older girls got to spend a recent Saturday afternoon going for a long walk.

When I was growing up, my best friend and I walked all over the place and usually didn’t get into much trouble, or should I say caught the few times we found something to do that we knew we shouldn’t.

It was fun listening to the sisters, their bickering and differences forgotten for a little while, filling in their grandmother and mom about their afternoon.

Evening dinners are now spent at our big dining room table that easily seats 12. Caden’s pretty much the star as he takes his place at the table. No one has counted yet just how many questions he can ask on a given topic, but his Papa and I are no longer hard-pressed to try to answer them all — someone’s usually got a response to them. How long are rattlesnakes? Have you seen a rattlesnake? How big are alligators? How many teeth do they have? Has one ever bited you?