Watching the show, I am amazed and impressed by Kate's organization and her energy. Then I remind myself that she is nearly two decades younger than I am. She is also infuriating*, but she does have sextuplets, SEXTUPLETS, and I cut her some slack.
On a recent episode, Aunt Jodi had the three-year-old sextuplets at her house and she offered them bubble gum. Offered! Hey, kids, who wants to smoke? Anyone want a beer before naptime? Kate is very health-conscious, so it would not have been a great leap to guess her feelings on the issue of gum. When the kids got home, Kate was beside herself. She could not throw out five sets of clothes and all the toys ruined by gum. She did not relish a few hours scraping gum out either.‡
It made me think of all the trusted caregivers I have had over the years who have shown such utter lack of judgement that I have wanted to scream at them,"YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HELP ME, NOT MAKE ADDITIONAL WORK AND AGGRAVATION!" I refer to the trusted ongoing sitters, not the one-time dilettantes who were never asked back or joined the Federal Witness Protection program after a few hours with Hart or Jeff. I carefully vet out anyone who will care for the boys and, unlike Kate, since 1996 I have never left more than one kid in the care of anyone. Still, things have occurred that have left me speechless with anger and incredulity.
While my mother was visiting, I made an appointment with the boys' therapist for a half-hour after the boys were in bed. When we returned, we could hear them screaming from blocks away. They had cranked open their bedroom window on the second floor, knocked out the screens and were poised on the window sill for flight. Later, I asked Mom if she had heard them. She had, "but the bedroom door was closed." Note to self: Fire mom.
Mother-in-law was not much better. I came to pick up Jeff, and since Grandpa had a tech question, I asked her if she would watch Hart, who was in the car. She did indeed watch Hart, as he released Jeff from inside the house and they both disappeared down the street. I should have been more specific. Note to self: Remind grandparents to both watch children AND intervene.
I came to long-time adult sitter's house to find her 14-year-old daughter caring for her younger brother, two toddler cousins, an infant and my kid. Note to self: Ratio of sitters to sittees equals 1:1.
Regular college-aged sitter agrees to take Hart shopping for toys with $30 he "found." Note to self: Remind adults that Hart is unemployed and has no legitimate income.
Arrive home to empty house. Front door is wide open. Sitter explains that she pulled up in driveway to collect her charge. Note to self: If 14-year-old boy had the sense to close the front door behind him, he would not need a babysitter.
Aunt Jodi, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. It was, I hope, a momentary lapse. But for the sake of my own sanity, I had to turn the TV off.
*Kate has very rigid, traditional ideas about gender roles, which I find astonishing in someone her age. We went through a Barbie-Boy phase at his house. With eight small children, I would find other issues to occupy me, but then I don't have my own reality show.
Kate is anal-retentive. She is self-deprecating about this onscreen which is charming, but I get frustrated watching the show because she makes lots of extra work for herself because of it. For example, she has five little girls with long hair, which requires lots of time shampooing, de-tangling, brushing, styling, braiding and decorating. Why? See above about gender roles?
‡ I know that some parents enjoy dressing their multiples alike occasionally,but the Gosselin kids are always dressed alike, which strikes me as very expensive (no hand-me-downs) and a logistical nightmare.