Three is supposedly the magic number. Well it isn’t. Three is always one too many, for the following reasons.
1) You can’t restrain three feral offspring on your own. Maths isn’t my strong point but as a human, I know you have more children than hands. You could adopt the parental pose of a lioness and carry one in your mouth but this may be frowned upon. So there’s always one who has the option to break free and make a run for it. Usually Joel.
2) You can’t create your own personal Berlin Wall in the back of the car to separate the conformists from the anarchist. They can’t bear to share the same airspace and one child inevitably annoys the other two to the point of ear-splitting, toe-curling, headache inducing screams. Usually Joel.
3) You have to reenact the puzzle of the fox, chicken and grain crossing the river to illegally enter a Premier Inn family room. There has to multiple trips back to the car to retrieve the smallest of items, each time with a different combination of people to try and fool the receptionist into believing there are only four of you, instead of five. And the children have to be sworn to secrecy.
“We’re not lying. We’re playing a special game. OK.”
Two seconds later, as you’re passing through Reception.
“Mam? Is part of the game working out where will we all sleep? Because there’s four beds but FIVE of us.”
“Shut up Joel!”
4) You can’t maintain a civilised situation in a restaurant. Each child demands to be entertained as they slowly die of malnourishment as their meal is taking sooooooooo long (it was ordered five minutes ago). Two of them are occupied with colouring or the make a box game, leaving one to escape to the toilet or head for the ice cream station unnoticed. Usually Joel.
5) There comes a time when all three are being educated in three different buildings, vaguely in the vicinity of one another, all finishing their school day at roughly the same time. Between 15:00 and 15:20, you adopt the persona of an Olympic sprinter/Sherpa as you dash between each school, retrieving children, acquiring excess baggage and invariably mislaying one in a playground. Usually Joel.
6) You finally envisage a future where all three will be educated on the same site, as the two eldest are firmly ensconced in the same secondary. Before you know it, one of them declares that they are unhappy and want a move (guess who?). Three years later, they are thankfully all under the one roof but to the tune of £300 a month for the school bus fare.
“Can I go back to my old school?”
7) One day, they outnumber you. They close ranks. They gang up on you. Unfortunately they sometimes demonstrate more logic than you when arguing their cause. (Maybe not Joel)
8) You can’t go to the cinema as a family. Different ages and gender create another impossible conundrum. The one time it did happen was a once in a lifetime event. The boys seemed to be completely oblivious as to what was happening and found themselves watching Frozen. The atmosphere in row E seats 16 and 17 was aptly glacial and no amount of popcorn or sweets could thaw relations.
9) You can’t get a good photo. After wrestling them into a position so that they’re almost near each other, asking them to look at the camera is fruitless. Miraculously they are unable to focus their eyes, control their heads or listen to instructions. See above.
10) You never get rid of them all. Yet another unsolvable puzzle. A and B go out. C stays. B comes back. C goes out. A returns. C returns. They’re all back! Once, eldest and youngest went on a residential at the same time. Happy days. I was still left with….Joel.
11) They’re all different. Chalk, cheese and chocolate. Nothing can be handed down. One likes trains. One likes Sonic. One has a longer body. One has a bigger head. One is a girl. One is clever. One is shy. One is a fruit loop….
There are many more reasons why three is not the magic number. Three is a crazy number. Three is exhilarating, tiring, entertaining, challenging, exasperating, thrilling, demanding, fulfilling. As little Abigail used to say, 3 is an awkward number. She meant odd. But she was right. Three can be downright bloody awkward!