Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
My wife and I recently attended a sports banquet for one of our kids' sports teams at a local restaurant. It was one of those events that I wanted to go to about as much as I wanted to get three teeth pulled. But my wife assured me it would be fun. I didn't believe her but I came anyway.
We've gone to so many of these things as my five kids are all on at least three sports teams. All the kids sat together at a very long table and all the parents sat at another table with the coaches. I have a theory about sports teams, the worse a team is the more coaches it has. And this team had lots of coaches.
We were seated with about eight coaches and some parents we didn't really know.
So what's the first thing someone we don't really know will bring up as a conversation starter? Well, it's the only thing they know about us which is that we have five kids. This one coach said he knew it was us when we arrived because he saw all five of our kids walking in. "That could only be the Archbolds," he laughed.
The mom directly across from me, who I didn't really know and hadn't seen at many games, leaned in conspiritorially and asked, "Who has five children? I'd kill myself if I had that many kids."
Dopey me, I actually felt embarrassed for her. I figured she couldn't hear all that well and didn't know who they were talking about and would regret her comment when she learned it was the man and woman sitting directly across from her.
I shouldn't have worried. The coach seemed flummoxed, pointed at us, and then quickly engaged in a conversation on the other side of the table. The woman, didn't appear to be embarrased though.
"You two have five kids?" she laughed. "You seem like normal people."
Yup. She actually said it.
I assured her that I was perfectly normal but that my wife was abundantly strange. I said she's the one who kept having the babies, not me. I laughed and my wife secretly wondered why she married me. The woman, however, didn't appear to appreciate my little joke and continued that she thought it was irresponsible to have that many children because you couldn't possibly give enough attention to five kids. She then went on to explain all the things her child is involved in from soccer to piano to basketball to a reading club to field hockey.
I told her that sometimes I make my kids mow the lawn.
"Exactly," she said, unaware that I was joking.
The rest of the dinner we talked about kids. Well, actually she told us all about her one daughter. We never did get around to talking about our kids. Maybe if the dinner had been longer.
As we were getting ready to go and our children began gathering around us the woman asked what kind of vehicle we drove that could fit all our kids. I told her we actually have a bus like the Partridge family and if that doesn't start we use our spaceship.
She looked at me strangely. Her daughter then came running up to her and asked her if she could stay the weekend at our house because it seemed like so much fun with all the other kids. I assured the mom that there was room on the spaceship but she told her daughter she couldn't go because she had piano lessons the following morning and soccer practice immediately after.
As we walked out I told my wife that she was right and the dinner had actually been a lot of fun.