Saturday, September 20, 2014


No. 1 Son, Naynuh, The Little Flower, Sister, and Big E
We have a Bonus Child in Johnsonville. (Henceforth, she shall be known as Sister.)

Some of you know what this means intuitively. You just get it. But for others, I'll explain. This is a kid who isn't yours by birth, but you find yourself raising him/her as the parent. Those who know us, know we've done this several times.

Now, our Bonus Child started as an Occasional Bonus Child, but in March of 2013 she became a Permanent Bonus Child via the court system. This means that we now call her Sister.

She's still her own person, but she's also our new person. (Not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing for her, but it's definitely a New Thing.)

Anyone with sisters can testify
that it's a complicated relationship
Being a Bonus Child is bizarre in our house. We love her; she loves us. We've known her since she was five years old, but living in a world full of Johnsons is a multifaceted situation when you have to deal with it on a full-time basis, because when she became ours she also instantly became the following:

The Oldest 
This is good and bad cause you have more freedom, but it's now all your fault, especially since you went from being the Baby of the family you were born into to being the Oldest in your "adoptive" family. (I don't know what the Family Dynamic people have to say about this, but I bet it's a doozy. You try going from being the most adored and pampered and babied to trying to be the most responsible and being the example--It's got to be confusing.)

And the Wonder Twins challenge her Oldest Child Status like alpha dogs going for pack leader in a werewolf novel, cause ranking isn't only determined by birth order around here--it's also determined by tooth and nail.

Living in Johnsonville means you participate even when it's weird. 
I'm raising Johnsons, taking the whole kill or be killed thing to a new level of scary. (You show up late for dinner and your pork chop is likely being devoured by someone faster than you, Pumpkin.) The Johnson women are powerful beings to be feared. We've raised them that way purposefully. Strong women don't happen by accident, Friends and Neighbors. They are developed.

From Being the Only Girl to One of Four Girls 
Who All Want to Share Your Stuff--Sharing a room, a flat iron, your personal space, one bathroom, collective make up, one television--it's quite a change from being The Only to E pluribus unum. (Google it). This also means less shared resources (aka Money). It's difficult.

Father's Day 2013
I Vant To Be A-Lone
Sharing everything is a learned skill. We never, ever had only one kid, having started with twins, so our kids have always HAD to share EVERYTHING. Now, to be fair, The Bonus Kid was already good at this, but still, sometimes you want to go off and be alone. That ain't happening in 1900 square feet with eight people in residence. There is no Alone. You don't have your own drink. You don't sit in a chair by yourself. You can't make a phone call in private.You don't watch television alone or surf the web alone. You can't put left overs in the fridge and expect them to be there an hour later. You can't even shower without someone banging on the door asking when you're going to finish.  Or if you didn't lock the door, just barging right in there to pee while you shower.  There is no alone.

first day of school

Family Meetings
With eight people, eight personalities, eight mouths, we host lots of family meetings. Sometimes we host these to work out conflict. Sometimes to discuss vacation plans or what's happening this week or work on the calender (seven activities, eight sports, two instruments, three clubs, church--I can manage anyone's schedule).

This Airing of Grievances isn't for the faint of heart. See, while discussing the calendar, we can easily fall down the rabbit hole into,
    "Why can't XYZ flush the dadgum toilet!"
    "What? You never put the cap back on the toothpaste, you pig, and I was trying to be polite by not flushing in the middle of the night and waking the whole blasted house!"
    "Well, if So-in-So would leave my toothpaste ALONE you wouldn't have to worry about the cap being on or off!"

Ahem. The Family Meeting is really a Big Family Thing, so it's an adjustment for sure.

A Preacher's Kid
Mission Trip
Naynuh, Big E, Sister, and the Number One Son in Peter Pan
Which is probably the most complicated part of the equation. See, before, no one noticed you. Now EVERYONE notices you and is in your business. Sister wasn't born in this exciting fishbowl, so it's a new experience to look up and realize that everyone is looking up to you. The other four shorties get it and go with the flow, but this one is shy and private and conflicted sometimes. It's got to be overwhelming.

You can't expect the Bonus Kid to act like the Four Shorties. She can't possibly since she Lives with the Johnsons; she wasn't Born a Johnson. She also has to get used to a huge set of new and exciting rules like "is this skirt long enough?" and "are these shorts appropriate?" and "can I listen to this kind of song or watch this kind of movie?". Cut her some slack; it's interesting being a PK, especially if you just fell backwards into it.

All-in-all, she's doing a pretty good job of it. I'm proud of her efforts to fit in and work it out. So, now it's the Four Shorties Plus One. We're hoping she makes it through the experience stronger and better. We hope all of our children are learning about doing the right thing even when it costs you something. Meanwhile, I'll have to get some new luggage tags printed...

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