Surviving, thriving in a family of nine

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Surviving, thriving in a family of nine

The seven Li children pose for a mothers day photo. Top of the lot, Haven; middle row, Phoebe and Avery; bottom row, Tiger, Park and Noah; Calvin relaxes in the grass.

The seven Li children pose for a mothers day photo. Top of the lot, Haven; middle row, Phoebe and Avery; bottom row, Tiger, Park and Noah; Calvin relaxes in the grass.

John E. Ramspott

The seven Li children pose for a mothers day photo. Top of the lot, Haven; middle row, Phoebe and Avery; bottom row, Tiger, Park and Noah; Calvin relaxes in the grass.

John E. Ramspott

John E. Ramspott

The seven Li children pose for a mothers day photo. Top of the lot, Haven; middle row, Phoebe and Avery; bottom row, Tiger, Park and Noah; Calvin relaxes in the grass.

The Southerner

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The seven Li children pose for a mothers day photo. Top of the lot, Haven; middle row, Phoebe and Avery; bottom row, Tiger, Park and Noah; Calvin relaxes in the grass.

The seven Li children pose for a mothers day photo. Top of the lot, Haven; middle row, Phoebe and Avery; bottom row, Tiger, Park and Noah; Calvin relaxes in the grass.

By Noah Li

Living with six siblings isn’t how you might imagine. There is constant noise, messes are always being made, dinner is chaotic, and the amount of laundry is astonishing. Despite the insanity that ensues with seven children in one house, however, life isn’t as different as it might seem. As the second eldest child in a family of nine, I can attest to the surprising normality… Or at least partial sanity.

Growing up with siblings, I have always been used to the constant commotion that children cause. My siblings and I are all spread out between 1 – 2 ½ years apart, ranging from ages 17 to 5. This means that, while some of us outgrow our stages of unbearable loudness and annoyance, others steadily fill that role.

From an outside perspective this may seem terrible, yet as someone used to it I am unbothered. We all see each other as normal siblings, just as children in families with less kids do. And, contrary to how it may seem, it really is that way.

It’s not like having a large family makes us any different from any “normal” family. When I tell people that I am one of seven kids, they always act surprised. They think that it must be absolutely insane and wonder how we possibly function. The secret is that through growing up in a large family we are used to it. To us, each sibling is just that, another sibling, and it doesn’t seem any different than typical families. We take a few shortcuts, but we ultimately are just another normal family.

With an increase in people is an inevitable increase in cost. We simply find ways around this. We aren’t poor – we live in a nice neighborhood and have luxuries most people have – we just can’t afford to spend large amounts on going out to eat daily and other activities many people would indulge on for all nine people. I consider my mom an expert at saving money on groceries. Through buying in bulk and using coupons, plus having expertise in selecting the cheapest foods for their worth, my mom keeps our grocery bill fairly low. In fact, it is much lower than many families with fewer kids who splurge on eating out multiple times a week.

Not everything is easy to keep normal. Transporting multiple kids to school and extracurricular activities numerous times a day is stressful to my parents. Dealing with metric tonnes of laundry and cleaning after many little kids takes its toll on you. However, with the (occasional) combined effort and hard work, we get things done. My mom admittedly does the majority of household work as a stay-at-home mom. After being told to a few times though, us kids do a little cleaning and other chores.

I think that a misconception many people have when thinking of large families is that they are really crazy and different. I have four little sisters. The elder two love shopping and wasting money just like any other teenage girls. The younger two and my youngest brother love to play outside together, making forts and creating artwork. They play just like other little kids.
My older brother, now a senior at Grady, acts like a typical teenage boy. He secludes himself in his room and listens to music loudly (to the frustration of everyone else in the house). Really, it’s like a few families combined into one household with techniques to lessen the stress of additional people.

Growing up around families of only a few kids, I know how they function. The majority of my childhood friends were from two-kid families. My parents don’t give us any less attention than they get, they instead devote more time to giving more attention to even it out. While they may have been more spoiled and gotten cooler gifts for their birthdays, we got playmates throughout our childhood and enjoyed what our parents still provide us.

Families with only a few kids may get more material possessions from their parents and have quieter lives, but we get the opportunity to build more valuable relationships with the people who ultimately matter the most in life – our family.

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