After weeks of excited anticipation, Paul, Janice and Sebastien are here. They arrived from England yesterday after a schoolyear in Oxford and almost a month of traveling through Europe. They’ll be staying with us as they reorient themselves to a life here again, and I am thrilled. At this time last year they were selling everything they owned not knowing if, or what, they would be coming back to. We shared a house for almost a month last summer before their departure. Sebastien, 5, became “one of the boys”. I vividly remember sitting alone on the front step, a few days into their stay, petrified that this sweet, polite, napkin-using boy would have to be deprogrammed from all of the crazy behaviour that he was picking up from Colin and Justin. I had decided that it was time to toilet train Aaron, and he peed and pooped in various places, both inside and outside, for 13 days straight. Janice fondly remembers the party that we threw on day 14 when he finally got it. I think I mentally buried the whole experience. Having four kids 5 1/2 years apart wasn’t ever something I aspired to as a mother. I have one brother and pictured my own family the same way. One hotel room. One quad chairlift. 2 RESPs. Any vehicle but a minivan. Child rearing with man-to-man, not zone, defense. Tidy. Manageable. Unfortunately, these are all things that you really don’t focus on while in the throes of passion. And then there were four. Sometimes it’s hard to keep motherhood from becoming one mammoth guilt trip. On the best day, I listen to the raucous laughter and pray that they stay just that close. On the worst day, I imagine what kind of therapy each of them are going to need as adults. Most days I am just swept along on this amazing ride. The night before they left last August Janice was tucking Sebastien in. “I’m mad,” he said. “I don’t want to leave the kids.” “There will be two girls in Calgary tomorrow,” she reminded him. Sebastien looked at her. “But I want four”. Sebastien, right now this five seems just about perfect to me.