03 June 2019

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: Kitchens, Kids & Family

My best friend and I raised our boys’ together. Between the two of us, we had six boys. Biological sons’. That doesn’t include the kids that decided to move in with us, at any given moment, and expect to be fed. There were a lot. A LOT! The most I’ve ever seen around my kitchen table was 18, but there could have been a few more hidden around the corner, in the closet or under the bed. We both had the same problem – collecting children.

We also both tended to collect pets. When I say pets I mean dogs, cats, chickens, cows, goats, snakes, squirrels, tarantulas, rabbits, birds, pigs, baby deer… Oops, she had peacocks and guinea hens, too. Not that we searched for them, they just seemed to gravitate towards our houses. There was NEVER a dull moment.

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Good Music, Good Friends & Good Times

7189 Turner Lake Rd
Covington, GA 30014

The kitchen in both households was the main congregation room. The kids –all- flocked to the kitchen. Breakfast, lunch, supper, snacks… Food, in general.

All the pets learned that, too. Neither of us had a 5 second rule. If food hit the floor, the first animal that got to it WON. Kids included. If you wanted to see a major feeding frenzy, drop a piece of watermelon on the floor and try to guess who’d get there first. Bacon could raise it to a whole new level.

I never had a “nasty” kitchen. It was just lived in, as was my friend’s. I scrubbed the floor once a month (it took 4 hours on hands and knees) with engine degreaser, and I painted part of the walls quarterly. Painting the strip on the walls rose according to the age of the children. Two feet off the floor, then three, then four… It depended on where their little hands rubbed, and the size of the animals that did the same. My friend kept an egg incubator in her kitchen and dealt with the same problems. The chicks were AWESOME! There was no such thing as having all the dishes cleaned at the same time. Our kitchens were the place to –live- in and crumbs could be fought over!

My children’s father finally put a name to what we were doing. We were “building strong immune systems.” With that mix of children and animals, there was no other choice.

You can still walk in our kitchens with dirty, bare feet. You’ll probably leave with dog hair between your toes and some delicious cookies in your tummy. Cupcakes cost extra.