Annie, our oldest child, has always been outgoing. She would go up to anyone when she was a toddler. We kept trying to guide her back to people she knew but even at this age, a stranger was just a friend she hadn’t met yet.
We moved into our first home in the winter. Annie and her three other siblings were home-bound with me until spring. I allowed them to play in the open garage and driveway once the weather grew warm. I kept close tabs on the two old enough to do this. The other two were with me at all times. Annie was outside on one of these late spring mornings. I’d only left her for a moment when an unsuspecting young couple who were out for a walk had been promptly interrupted by Annie. Before I got to her, she had given them the names of everyone in our family and ages. I’m not sure she knew mommy and daddy’s age but that wouldn’t have stopped her from throwing a number out there. Embarrassed, I apologized to the nice couple who had been so sweet to allow her to engage them in conversation. We moved six years later into a larger home, making room for two kids per bedroom rather than three, now that we had six children. The town we moved to had been mostly a farming community but was beginning to really grow with new tech companies buying up the property. They actually had a person visit new residents to welcome them. It’s quite exciting to have people show up at your door for a group of curious homeschoolers, ranging in age from two to ten. The woman, who called herself ‘The Welcome Wagon’ from the city may have felt a little overwhelmed as she sat at the dinning table. The whole brood surrounded her. I stood with baby Joe in my arms, while the rest lean on the table or over her shoulder. The nice woman brought a basket with coupons and items from businesses in the area. The kids watched with rapt attention. When she pulled out a tooth brush from a dental office, Annie announced, “Oh, we don’t brush our teeth.” The woman’s eye grew large, as she looked at me. “Annie,” I scolded. She looked at me, then back at the Welcome Wagon woman and corrected herself, “Well, not very often.” For the record, my kids were required to brush their teeth twice a day. This was news to me. I’m not sure what impression we left this woman with but I was horrified. I made a better effort to make sure my children brushed their teeth and weren’t just faking it.