Then TLC added to the lineup, and somehow, we started watching "Jon and Kate Plus 8" when it debuted a few years ago.
I'd heard about them before they'd even had the six, thanks to a message board I participated in. Someone from the Reading area was bitching about this family that was about to have six after having twins and the couple was pretty darn demanding about what they WANTED for the new arrivals, going so far as to put up a website listing all the things they desired. Yes, I checked it out back then and was reminded of a family that had five kids in the Frederick area that asked for nothing but volunteers, so the 'wish list' struck me as a fishing expedition.
From the outset, we watched the show and while the kids were cute, both of us would critique Jon and Kate. She never seemed happy, despite being blessed with eight healthy kids when others go through similar fertility treatments and have nothing but an empty bank account to show for it. I know a few people in this situation, which makes me a little touchy on that point.
The family is given quite a few 'comps' and they've played them off as 'we got the kids this', when it was clear it was a product placement. Or they would take their eight kids to an activity that I found expensive for my family of four earning two incomes. What about a family of 10 that professes to be 'struggling'? Don't believe me? Check out Dutch Wonderland, Strasberg Railroad's 'Day with Thomas' or the Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster and add it up. Nowadays, they do mention that these are they are guests, but they didn't at first.
Along the way, I browsed the Net, and found that there was a couple in Jersey who had TWO sets of twins and sextuplets, the Hayes. I was more curious about how they managed it, since raising eight was 'so exhausting' for Kate. There wasn't much about this family out there to know how they do it. They had to be doing it on a single income, because the child care for six would kill a paycheck and make it pointless to even go to work!
Tonight, the Hayes made their debut on TLC. You know what? They are a hoot! The parents were hilarious and the kids? Perfectly normal, what you'd expect when they don't live their lives with television cameras taping their every move.
The Hayes have one sextuplet who has brain damage, but the little girl is doted on by all of her siblings and Mom and Dad. Mom Betty says "I love that she doesn't yell at me, so yeah, she's my favorite!" It's clear there is plenty of love to go around in that house, and plenty of laughter, too.
Much like watching the Roloffs feels real, the Hayes were real. It was refreshing after seeing a trip to Hawaii spread out over three weeks episodes. It's doubtful the Hayes even want a weekly show, but to check in once a year with them would be great. It was an hour that had us laughing over and over, because we could relate to their brand of parenting.