There’s an old Yiddish folktale that tells the story of a man who is at his wits end because his small house is too crowded. He, his wife, and children can hardly move without bumping into one another or getting in one another’s way. He goes to discuss the matter with his rabbi who instructs him, over time, to keep adding his various farm animals to the house. Chickens, then goats, then the cow, etc. Each time, he returns to the rabbi to wail over the horrible advice and report that things are much worse. Eventually, the rabbi tells him to move all the animals back out of the house. And, wouldn’t you know it, the crowded house problem is solved. The man can hardly believe the peace and quiet his family enjoys in their little home.
My house certainly isn’t small, and, while it is true that there aren’t many places for any of us to escape one another, I’ve never felt crowded. Still, this tale has come to mind several times the past two days. The older two kids (along with Mike) are off at youth conference. They certainly aren’t the loudest or messiest of the people living in this home, but, after four weeks of everybody home all day, the house has felt so quiet with only four children -- the mess and laundry a thousand times more manageable. Life certainly wasn’t easier when I actually had four children. It’s just filling the house . . . then sending some back to the barnyard.
Also, to make up for them not getting the fun of youth conference, Goldie created a treasure hunt for her younger siblings. She purchased little treats and gifts all with her own money, created a map with obstacles that had to be surmounted, items that had to be found, etc. until, at last, they found the X – where she’d actually buried their treasure.