Does “family” have a limit?

Presiding over a family of eleven (sometimes twelve…depends who is home) I often find that our size of family is discriminated against in mainstream society. (!!)

I have yet to win one of those radio family vacations. However I can just imagine the radio announcer now… “Congratulations you have won a family trip to Disney!” …and my response “Will all 11 tickets be booked on the same flight?” Ah…then I will likely be told to pick and choose which family members I am allowed to take as the contest only provides for a family meaning… a mom, a dad and two children (and the small print likely indicates they have to be under 12 years of age). Thankfully I have not been in that position, however I often wonder how it might play out…and what the legal ramifications are (if any) regarding advertising “Family” and then limiting “Family” to only be a maximum of four people.

It begins at the grocery store with the limits imposed on sale items (quantities allowed of only four or less of a sale item…more on that later) but does not end there. If I go to a restaurant indicating that children under 12 eat free and then present 5 children under 12 for the free meal I am told that it only includes two children. (!!) Strangely enough the sign advertising this special said nothing about any limits. What are the other 3 children if not “family”? (Very difficult to explain on the spot whose family!)

I can be in the grocery store and spaghetti sauce is awesomely priced at a dollar a bottle but there is also a large notice indicating a limit of 4 bottles per family. Lovely …that is most reasonable as the average family (in Canada with 1.25 kids) is able to make 4 complete spaghetti dinners with this store imposed ration. I on the other hand would be hard-pressed to make even two dinners (for everyone) out of only 4 bottles. Some stores are very accommodating as once they realize my family is the size of a small private school I am usually given the deference of 3 to 4 times the store-imposed-limit to fairly purchase sale items for private use. (Most store limits are to prevent small restaurants and commercial enterprises from “stocking up”).

It gets better. Where I live we are now trying to cut back garbage collection services and in turn force all residents to become greener thereby reducing the neighborhood garbage output by taking advantage of composting and better recycling practices etc. The city planners in order to achieve such utopia have determined that each household will be allowed only four bags of garbage every two weeks. (!!)

There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out

There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out

Okay…if the average family is considered to be the sum total of 3 humans* and I have 12 then I suddenly have 16 bags of garbage every two weeks. This family has two babies living here. Not being someone who wants any more wildlife at my house than I already have (teenagers included) I looked everywhere for solutions. Basically my family size is almost institutional (stop laughing!). I looked up all the city’s policies and discovered that if you have family members using incontinence products (diapers etc.) you could qualify for a “bonus bag” picked up weekly from your house. While reading about this there were many admonishments about how those who misuse this service would face the full extent of the law. Key requirement was there was to be NO OTHER trash sneaked into this “bonus” bag beyond the incontinence material. Two kids in diapers YIPEE!  I can at least ditch that refuse weekly….so signed up for that.

"...could qualify for a “bonus bag” ...."

“…could qualify for a “bonus bag” ….”

Wednesday is the magical day where this “bonus bag” would be removed. I happened to be in the front room this past Wednesday and noticed a white, unmarked pickup truck stop in front of my home and a man dressed in a white (head to toe) mechanic suit, sporting industrial gloves and headgear (not quite a miner’s light attached) jump out and approach “the bag.” Not sure this was the city’s special garbage collection (perhaps more aliens checking on the earthlings…again) I thought I might spend a moment and observe through my front living room window. With clipboard and cellphone in hand, this guy summoned his fellow helper (the driver of the truck) with a look of such arrogant disgust. (Living here it is hard to tell if the million kid’s toys, bikes, helmets, hockey sticks, nets and pet bugs in jars strewn all over my front walk might have been the cause of such derision).

"I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the  national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?"

“I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?”

Obviously our “Bonus Bag” ended up being a large green back with several smaller white bags inside screaming “FRAUD.” There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out. (!!).. I think these two Garbage specialists felt they were on to something… clipboard was readied and both men opened my special bag together. My special pickup bag was clearly in contravention…that is until they proceeded to open the other white bags…after two bags were opened…an extra pair of gloves were donned, the clipboard was then hurled into the back of the truck and the bag carried about as far away from the guys’ body as his outstretched arm would allow ….then tossed through the air and into the back of the truck. I expect next week’s special pickup will not be subjected to any more audits.

There are actually a few of us around the country with more than the average national number of offspring. Good thing too…I should be recognized as having definitely contributed to society I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?

The Garden Goat

Goat in Garbage can

I am patiently waiting for the next “Garbage Day”

*Canadian census 2006

18 thoughts on “Does “family” have a limit?

  1. In the grocery stores here (Cyprus–an island in the Mediterranean) I haven’t seen signs limiting by family, but by customer…so we hand several children money and the maximum number of whatever and we all pay separately. (We don’t even do it secretely–a cashier TOLD us to it!! 🙂 )

    However, I HAVE seen “family” defined as two adults and two children at various other places, and it didn’t even matter if they were actually parents and children. We “only” have six children, two of them teenagers, so we’ve gotten two “family tickets” on a couple of occasions, since teenagers pay adult prices anyway, and under sixes were free.

    In case you ever go to the zoo in Duisburg, Germany, take birth certificates–there’s no limit to family size for the family pass, but you do have to prove that the children are yours!

    • Hi Sheila,

      Thanks for your comments and advice. I was once travelling to the USA before you required passports. Naturally some questions from the customs officials as we pull up in the 15 seat extended Ford Van. Well after announcing all 9 were our kids, the customs official decided to open the side door to verify the kids were actually ours (I guess other vans have been guilty of smuggling people across the border)..most of mine have red hair so very quickly it was apparent (without any official documentation) that these were indeed homegrown! I will remember the documentation should I ever visit that German zoo…Thanks for the tip!!

      The Garden Goat 😎

  2. We’re fortunate here in that we are given recycle bins that get picked up weekly. Our trash only gets picked up every other week, but as a “family” household, we are allowed the larger rubbish bin, and, because of the size of our family (6 kids still living (mostly) at home), we can even request a second bin if we need one. (With the recycling though, we don’t need it.) I have noticed that the families on our street with only two children and the same large bin still fill it to overflowing.

    • Thanks for your comments. In rethinking I am considering placing some trash items in the freezer until garbage day. So true though about the garbage practices of those with less numbers to juggle!
      The Garden Goat 😎

  3. At the “peak” of our household population, we had 12 people living full time in our home. I think there were “only” 2 in diapers at the time 😉 Trash pick up was twice a week at out old house, and I was always amazed that the empty nesters living behind us put out more trash than we did. We did buy in bulk(less packaging), and use cloth diapers most of the time to save money, but I never thought about it saving us from having too many trash bags!!!!

    • Thanks for your comment. I think I need to look into a commercial size, eco-friendly garbage system or register with the city as running a small restaurant! 🙂 True that many people with less inhabitants per household likely don’t give such mundane things as garbage as second thought. If we allow single people to generate almost 2 bags per week and I multiplied it times the number of inmates here I would be doing 24 bags per week (or 48 every two weeks)…Think it may be easier to register as a small hospitality business !!
      The Garden Goat 😎

  4. I do try to frequent (and not to take advantage of, but to bring business to…) business that don’t “LIMIT” our family size. We have 11 in our home. And garbage? We are limited to 2 bags but we get the BIG bags… they don’t say what size they have to be.

    • That is a better idea…bigger bags…wonder if you can get custom size garbage bags (10 feet tall by oh…perhaps 6 feet wide) ? 🙂
      What most businesses should realize is that in serving big families we are a long term customer base. We are buying more groceries (actually buying more of everything!) over a longer time period (dozens of years) as opposed to smaller families raising only one or two children. Thanks for your comment!
      The Garden Goat 😎

  5. This post made me LOL…the whole thing is sad but true. I know that with the garbage here in rural Michigan, we pay for our trash pick up based on how many pounds on average we do. We’re always trying to find ways to reduce that! I know that I’ve also had the problem of not being able to stock up at certain stores where they limit things per customer, though like Sheila I also send the older kids through the line. 🙂

    • Well kinda glad they don’t weigh the garbage here…yikes…I can only imagine what that load might weigh in at. Glad you were caught laughing by something this old goat wrote (!!) Sometimes the stores will let the older kids through other times not so much. When you 15 year old son is observed “stocking up” on the Pampers specials…a few heads turned. (!!)
      Thanks for your comment!

      The Garden Goat 😎

  6. Oh, so funny. I can’t imagine the stench of a week’s worth of diapers. We use less garbage than most everyone on our street – I’m still not sure how that happens. We have six children ages 1-9, and run into “family rates” everywhere we go here in SW Missouri. This had me laughing and nodding along. Great post!

    • Thanks for your comment…glad to be the one guilty of providing laughter…The stench would be beyond belief..although a trip to my dollar store I am now equipped with little “biodegradable” bag “powder fresh” scent to tie up each diaper…well see how that goes 🙂
      The Garden Goat 😎

  7. If the size of the bag isn’t limited, check out a home improvement store such as Home Depot and get a box of the contractor bags. They’re heavy duty, hold a ton and are almost impossible to rip open, and would control odor better given the twice a month pick up. And for those who judge my family size, I like to point out that according to government projections, it’s going to take all 5 of my children’s SSI taxes to cover just one Judgey McJudgerson’s SSI when they’re eligible.

    • Hi there again, not too sure what is going on with the comments…anyway I just responded to the first one. Yes, contractor bags may in fact be the saving grace. So true about the taxes as Joe Public is often critical of larger sized families and yet it is our kid’s tax dollars that will helping to fund/supplement Joe Public their senior years arrive!
      Thanks again for your comments!
      The Garden Goat 😎

  8. What makes me upset is when you go out to eat as a family,and we are a family of twelve. They add on a gratuity charge, but they really don’t want to give you good service.

    • Many restaurants do not like to serve a big family. Silly really because us larger families are the size of an office party and a very lucrative patron for an restaurant. When I go out for a meal with my children I often end up making a list for the waiter/waitress of the children’s orders, I help serve and clean up (including under the table where appropriate). At one restaurant the waitress told me she felt bad about the gratuity because I had mostly done what she was supposed to have done. This is not a practice I would continue with older kids but when you have many young kids it can make it much easier (and us more welcome for next time)! Thanks for your comment!
      The Garden Goat 😎

  9. I’ve often wondered how bigger families do it. We have 3 and often hotel rooms limit you to 4 in a room, so I guess my husband and I are supposed to split up? But when the kids are small and you’re only there to sleep anyway, I’m not sure why it matters. Is it a money thing? Safety?

    • Well my personal reaction is that it is a combo of “safety” being the reason…and “more money” being the objective. I did touch on the very same thing you mention about hotels in the blog post about March Break (…really frustrating to have many little kids and be told you need 3 hotel rooms and you and your husband are the only adults in the lot. Who pray tell is going to supervise the third room….your oldest child…perhaps the ten-year-old. Theses hotel regulations clearly do not take into account that some of their patrons might actually have more than 2 children. Thanks for your comment. As far as safety goes I cannot imagine leaving a child underage with others even younger in their own hotel room even if the room is located next to the room provided for the mother and the other for the father and the remaining siblings.
      The Garden Goat 😎

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