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Blue-eyed, 2-year-old Caleb smashed a toy truck into a wall.

Calyssa, his twin, mooned around with an otherworldly smile.

Maliyah, Josiah and Isaiah lay on the couch in varying states of gassy snuffling.

Scattered beyond them, into the living room and backyard of the famed Suleman residence outside Los Angeles, in La Habra, Calif., the octuplets’ six elder siblings pursued age-appropriate vocations. for the film crew to come film them, kissing and hugging good night.

Aidan, 4, who is autistic, chanted, “Dooga dooga dooga dooga dooga dooga di,” while playing with a magnifying glass. She jerked her head away and said, “You don’t have to know everything.”But of course, when it comes to Amerah and her 13 siblings, I, along with millions of people around the world, already know a considerable amount about her, her family and, most of all, her mother, Nadya Suleman, otherwise known as the Octomom.

Amerah, 7, the oldest daughter, mercurial and precocious, flirted with the grown-ups. Though Suleman is the second human to successfully deliver octuplets in the United States (the first was Nkem Chukwu, a Nigerian-born American, in 1998, one of whose babies died a week after birth), she is the first to have a set in which all eight have survived, and also the first to have undertaken to produce them as a single mother, with the assistance of in-vitro fertilization and a sperm donor. treatments in Mexico and then crawled across the border to give birth on American soil.

The controversy over whether she should be “punished” reached such a pitch that as state legislators and bloggers worldwide clamored for public authorities to intervene, Suleman and her representatives received death threats. jumped, splashed into the box of balls and looked up. Red, blue, yellow, green flashes of color spilled everywhere and filled the frame. The crew members, for their part, wanted to maintain their artistic integrity, capturing and rendering life in a home with 14 kids as “naturally” as possible. In accordance with existing California law, the older kids can be filmed for three to six hours, depending on their ages and whether they are in school. In the background, Caleb romped about with a pig that sang “Old Mac Donald.” He approached me, yelling, “E-I-E-I-O! The filmmakers decided that Suleman should lie on a white blanket with her babies arrayed around her. The boundary between “up close and personal” and “too close and too personal” was never really established, and everyone was still finding his way. I’ll scratch your back.” To Amerah, she said, soothingly: “Good night angel, I love you.

Two weeks after delivering her eight babies, Suleman appeared with Ann Curry for an interview broadcast by NBC, followed by another with Dr. She soon cut a deal with Radar Online (owned in part by American Media, which also publishes National Enquirer and Star magazine) to allow a film crew into her house to generate material for its Web site, which published explosive stories daily. But there were certain moments, as with most film projects, even of the documentary variety, when the process diverged from mere recording of ongoing reality. Even though the takes themselves are often brief, a filming day can still be lengthy because the kids are allowed to remain on location for longer, and shots may be difficult to set up. They’d tried three times to get two peaceful seconds of her face, between tears, to no avail. ” then growled and bit me before finding a fireman’s truck that sang: “Ta dah! Himself a father of three, Campbell, choking down the stress, picked her up and comforted her. Sort of like a Busby Berkeley tableau — but with octuplets. But it’s controlled.” As long as they didn’t step over the line into doing a reality show, with cameras in the house all day, every day; as long as the cameras were present for only a few days, every six or so months, things could be made to work out. But wasn’t she sort of brokering her own children as commodities? One lesson of the night was that children who, like most children, don’t like to go to bed at all really don’t like to go to bed with a fun British camera crew filming them.

In back, the yard is half-covered with Astro Turf, and then there’s a swing set, a jungle gym, a trampoline, three slides, multiple hula hoops and at least four to six each of the following items: shovels, pails, flowerpots, boots, scooters and bicycles. The moment he was placed on the inclined board, he began to squirm and slide downward. As each crying baby failed to love the camera, Campbell, Mc Leod and Suleman gathered around the lens, each time imploring the baby to look up, even if just for two seconds.“What’s that? Suleman tried more than gamely to remain calm and to keep her photo face together, but she began to panic when she realized she couldn’t even rise to her feet for fear of dragging her children into the air. On this afternoon, we left Suleman’s house and drove down La Habra Boulevard. She hated the news media and the lack of privacy, the intrusion on her children’s innocence, the mockery.

Except for the grass problem, it’s virtually indistinguishable from millions of its Southern California neighbors. What this meant was that the kids were going to have to lie on a board with a 20-degree slope. It was hard to know whether the shot would be good enough, but the show had to go on. Eyeworks wanted her in the shot to further emphasize the snake. The choreography of so much naturalness was time-consuming. As she ferried the kids back and forth to the kitchen,