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I am happy to report that this summer worked out really well. I had some kids in day camp and some at home with me, and there were times when I actually believed that each child was getting exactly what he/she needed.

There was also a fair amount of whining and bickering and meltdown-ing, but I am a seasoned parent who welcomes moments of tension and conflict knowing that they will help my young ones mature into competent adults. So not once did I ever contemplate selling my children on e-bay. Or putting them to bed 2 hours early. Or locking myself in the bathroom for inappropriate amounts of time just to block out the endless calls of ‘Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?’

Having multiple children around during the day made errand running a challenge. Groceries needed to be bought, library books required exchange, odds and ends had to be accomplished to keep our lives up and running, all with children in tow. So I found myself constantly doing ‘Math for Moms’ (or to be politically correct, ‘Calculations for Caregivers’). It goes like this:

I would rather take four children to the grocery store than two to the library. Two children at the library means that random and annoying books wind up in our basket while the books that I chose get strewn all over the floor. This is less pleasurable to me then having four children at the grocery store where I will spend an extra $20.00 on unnecessary junk food, add that to the extra stress of merely having the children out in public at all, which is then offset by the kind (and lying) stranger who tells me how well behaved my children are.

In other words, 2CxL (Bad books> Good books x mess) < 4CxGS (-20 x stress/lying stranger).
It’s not rocket science, but such equations allowme to make predictions and estimations that help move my days along more smoothly. Another example:

Child A weighs 32 pounds and is running at 3 mph towards his brother (child B) while carrying a toy recorder (aka ‘super spinning missile launcher). Given that Child B weighs in at 30 pounds and is running towards Child A at 2 mph with a stack of Legos (aka ‘ninja sword shooter’), will this activity occupy Childs A and B long enough so that I can make pasta before dealing with the carnage?

And another:
2 cups of juice, identical in size, volume, and Lightning McQueen decalsit on a table. Given their absolute sameness (Y=Z), how did you not anticipate that child C would want whatever cup child B had just chosen? Seriously – this is basic math, have you learned nothing?

So there you have the set of complex calculations that will most surely earn me a Nobel Prize. I would love to further discuss my mathematical theories, but if Child D continues moving toward her brother’s puzzle in her current trajectory, I should have just enough time to pour myself a stiff drink before the fun begins.