I keep this, one of two containers I use for the purpose, full of food and on the counter all day, along with unlimited seaweed, bananas, and trail mix. It doesn’t always have deviled eggs. Sometimes it has sausage, radishes, berries, carrots, breads, other kinds of cheeses, braunschweiger (some know it as liverwurst, very popular w/our boys), and various other odds and ends.
Some things are unlimited only in the sense that as long as I have them, the kids can eat, but it’s gone when it’s gone- the big bowl of trail mix, for instance, will not be replaced by more of the same. Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, yogurt, and bananas I replace constantly, everything else depends on what is for sale.
By 11:00: 12 pancakes, four yogurts, 8 bananas, four popsicles, nearly two pints of cherry tomatoes, six cucumbers, 8 croissants, 11 Hawaiian rolls, 3/4 lb of braunschweiger, 8 deviled eggs, a few slices provolone, a few handfuls of trail mix, and 8 radishes. And around 11:00 one asked when we could eat. He saw somebody at the park with food.
By bedtime- in the same day- they had consumed more braunschweiger sandwiches, more tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes, slim jims (2 or 3 each), a capris sun juice pack, yogurts, pizza, fried chicken, a cutie each (*yes, yes they are!), more trail mix, grapes, bananas, a couple yogurt drinks, and I think that may have been it- oh, and a couple mugs of milk for the baby of the group, and day lilies because I showed the lads day lilies are edible. Yes, we are going to be asking for the grocery store to give us a discount.
For some kids, regular meals and no snacking is important. For these kids, it is important for them to be convinced that their food supply is safe. Orphans from hard places (and being an orphan is itself a hard place) nearly always have some food issues related to scarcity and the horrible experience of genuine, real, gnawing hunger and the knowledge that you do not know when you will eat again. And that is why we always have at least cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and bananas freely available.
It was a beautiful and also a hard day. We had some melt downs. there was a moment of panic and terror that I didn’t recognize as such when it was happening and I was not really there for the child as I would wish- I was focused on parking, he was ordering me to not park and just drive away. You see, the splash pad we visited the day before, when it had 2 children, was now full of children, and that child was intimidated. He handled it well, but was more standoffish afterward.
On our way home from the splash park, down country roads, we passed a doe in a creek running right along the side of the road. Stopped and watched her until the 11 y.o. couldn’t hold back any longer and shouted at her. Drove no more than a quarter of a mile later and saw a turkey vulture right by the side of the road. Pulled up and opened the van doors so they could really see. It flew away, but must have had something tasty there, because it circled and returned 3 more times, and the boys were gasping in awe and delight at its graceful flight and wide wingspan.
Because we had a too long and too busy day, child 2 and 4 were definitely not on their best behavior. However, while we were out I took the 3 oldest into Aldi’s with me, leaving child 4 in the van with my husband, a better arrangement for everybody.
In the store I was seriously showered with compliments on my wonderfully handsome and eager helpers. One lady said they were the best behaved boys she had ever seen. I literally did nothing but point at what I wanted- they handled it all otherwise. I asked them a few times if they wanted something, and their oldest brother told them if they did or not.=) But they did not really ask for anything. When I pointed at something, they just asked how many (one? two?)
I don’t think we went down a single aisle without somebody telling me how amazingly helpful the boys were, and everybody was correct.
We had an epic meltdown on the drive home, and we had one again over supper (same child both times).
After supper the boys went out to put their bikes up and came racing back in screaming for us to come look, come, come- understand this is mainly communicated via gestures and full body charades. What we heard was “мама, тато!!” WOW!!” and what we saw is the three youngest boys waving their hands at us and dancing in excitement for us to hurry and look. What they wanted us to see: the fields around our house and our yard itself were glittering with fireflies. Bedtime was extended 20 minutes for firefly catching (for the younger 2, the older 2 used their time to kick a soccer ball).
It was beautiful.