Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Explorers of All Things Sticky, Gooey and Slimy

For any of those who have children or pets for that matter, you know that it is instinctively part of not just human nature but also animal nature to be curious. My children love to watch Curious George and I’m fully aware it’s because they completely relate to his curiosity! I feel like Hunley, the Doorman’s dog, who always tries to protect the hotel from George.

While a Curious George episode ends in about 15-30 minutes, my children’s “episodes” of curiosity can last much longer than that, at least the clean-up does. Again I was downstairs trying to multi-task, when I realized how very quiet my children had become. When I went in Rachel’s room to see what they were doing, I just about keeled over from apoplexy! My children, who I thought were playing with stuffed animals and other harmless toys, were getting into some items on the dresser. Now, I realize that I really only have myself to blame for all of this because I’m the one that left the make-up in there. I understand that this is really my fault which is why I’m writing (or in this case, typing) it down so that 1) I will hold myself accountable to find things and remove them before my children use them and 2) as a warning for other parents.

They had located a bottle of liquid foundation that I'd forgotten I had and a bottle of lotion that had come in a gift bag for going to a women's function at church. All I can say is, thank goodness the lotion bottle was a very small one!

I came in to find that they had coated some of the wood (again, I say thank goodness - it could've been all fabric) furniture with the mixture they had created using the lotion and foundation along with Rachel's pillowcase and bedsheet, and some spots on the floor. My guess is that Rachel knew it was foundation and lotion and that she was trying to "make-up" the three princesses on her bed (Cinderella, Snow White and Belle).

What's a parent to do when he/she finds the children making a mess such as this? Well, I did the only thing I knew to do; sucking up a wad of tears that was threatening to choke me, I told them that they are always to ask Mommy if they can play with things that weren't given to them to play with. Then, I proceeded to start cleaning up the mess.

In all of this, they were very sweet and tried to help me clean up, which I politely asked them not to. My oldest, Rachel, simply stood there watching me for awhile. She picked up the lotion bottle from the floor and went over and threw it in the trash, "We better put this away, Mommy." Good idea (now she decides to put it away)! She then told me solemnly, "I'm sorry, Mommy. I didn't mean to." Of course, my son, Benjamin, had to follow suite and express his regret in equal manner. How precious are my children!?! Along with their father, they are the most precious gifts in my life.

As I cleaned up that mess and as I'm reminded of it when I see the sheets I'm still trying to remove stains out of, I'm finding gratitude in each day as I watch my husband play with our children, listen to my daughter articulate almost everything quite well and watch my son as he "plays" music on every piece of furniture and toy imaginable. My children astound me with their learning and growing, their creativity and their sensitivity. It gives me new perspective on each day and though I have times of feeling frustrated, exasperated or even overwhelmed, I'm so grateful that God has given me these - has entrusted them to me. I am indeed blessed!

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week (And it's only Tuesday!)

As Alexander said in his book, “I think I’ll move to Australia.” It’s been one of those awful weeks, the kind of week that seems like one long, very bad Monday. I know, I know, it’s only Tuesday, but if this week gets any worse, well, I just won’t go there…

Monday, I woke up to my daughter talking in her very loud “quiet voice”. She said, “Mommy! Mommy! Turn on PBS kids!” Her wish is my command (at least at that time of the morning), so I did just that to make her stop the loud sound that was coming out of her mouth. How can a mouth that small make such a loud noise so early in the morning? Can you tell I’m not a morning person?

The next thing I know my son is awake and is growl-screaming in his I’m-so-mad-you-didn’t-get-me-up-first voice, “Mommy! Mommy!” So I went in and got him up hoping that if I brought him to my room to sit on the bed and watch cartoons that he and Rachel would watch quietly while I slept peacefully. HA! I’m so naïve sometimes, I amuse myself when I look back on it. This naïveté, of course, is due to the fact that I am SO not a morning person that I can’t even think or reason clearly in the morning.

Anyway, throughout the course of Monday, my daughter dirtied herself once, my son proceeded to dirty himself profusely, so much so that I had to change his clothes twice, and my allergies drove me crazy which meant that I had a pounding headache while sneezing and coughing all day. And so I move on to Tuesday…

Again, I was awakened by my lovely daughter’s “quiet voice” and Benjamin’s growl-scream. My mother was going to the doctor that morning, so I put her wheelchair in her car for her. As she was walking to the car she told me that she was hurting badly from the physical therapy the day before. I noticed that she had a hard time getting her stiff legs into the car. I thought to myself, I’ll be nice and clean out her whirlpool tub so that she can soak her aching muscles when she gets home.

I had heard my mom say that the manufacturer’s recommendation was to use dishwashing soap for half an hour (it’s debatable what she actually said, but what I heard was dishwashing liquid). So in the interest of my mother’s good health and happiness, I started filling the tub with water and gave it two small squirts of Palmolive dishwashing liquid. (Yes, I'm sure you can all see this coming - but do remember please, I am blonde!) When the tub was filled just over the top of the jets, I turned the water off, closed the door of her bedroom and went out into the kitchen to set the timer. In the thirty minutes from the timer starting to it going off, I was in the middle of fixing a fiasco at my bank.
In the midst of a rather irritating conversation with a bank teller, the timer for the bathtub went off. I had been placed on hold by the bank teller so I went in to check the progress of the tub cleaning. Now, for any of those who try to multi-task while talking on the phone, I don’t recommend in this particular instance going to check on a whirlpool tub cleaning while being on the phone, at least not if you've decided to clean it with dishwashing liquid (that's the important part here). Let’s just say that it was a good thing I was still on hold because I would’ve had some explaining to do to a now deaf bank teller. Needless to say, I finished my conversation with the bank teller rather quickly once she came back on the line.

This is what had happened - when I opened the door of my mother’s bedroom and stood in the doorway to her bathroom, I saw bubbles edging out toward the doorway. Surprised I went a few steps further looking in to the bathroom. Bubbles had floated out and up to the upper part of the shower and I could no longer actually see the tub. I was horrified!

Once I was off the phone and since I didn’t want to get my clothes all soapy and wet, I stripped off all my clothes and went into the bathroom, through the bubbles and into the tub itself to turn off the jets and drain the tub. I hadn’t realized that I had left my mother’s bedroom door open until I saw two little children staring at me with stunned faces. They started jumping up and down and with smiles on their faces they shouted, “I want a bath too!”

After convincing them not to remove their clothes and that Mommy was just cleaning and didn’t want to get her clothes all soapy (I sincerely hope that they don’t remember this incident later or we’ll all be in therapy for a very long time!), I got the bathtub cleaned and the area around it mopped up. When my mother came home from the doctor, she had a good laugh and told me that it was dishwasher soap and that it had to be low-sudsing soap. Hmmph!!

It’s good that God gives us a sense of humor even if it doesn’t kick in until later. I can breathe a sigh of relief that I don’t have to go through days like that everyday and know that even when I do, God can give me the strength to get through them. I’m writing this from the perspective of looking back a week, so I can confidently say, "This too shall pass…."

Friday, October 06, 2006

My Sweet Girl

I admire my daughter. She is beautiful, sweet and kind with a wonderful sense of humor. All this and she is only 3 years old. Amazing, I know! She has her moments, of course, pulling her brother’s hair when she wants to move him away from the things that she wants or pushing him out of her way so that she can get to the TV first. But it is my daughter who will try her hardest to make her brother laugh when he is sad or to cheer him up when he is crying. She will even sit beside him to “wait it out” when he throws a temper tantrum. Maybe all children have this in them, I don’t know. But I happen to think that my daughter is special (of course I’m not biased at all).

The other day my daughter was sitting at the piano “playing” it and my son walked in and wanted to “play” the piano too. I told him that he would have to wait his turn. He immediately looked around and fell to the ground in a tantrum (you have to understand that he makes sure that he has a soft place to land, after all he wouldn’t want to hurt himself). Since he was so mad and screaming about not getting to play the piano, Rachel immediately hopped off the piano bench and said, "Here, Benjamin, you can play piano."

He got up from the floor, crocodile tears still running, and got up on the piano bench and started "playing" away. Rachel stood by with a grin at making her brother happy. As she stood by watching, I watched as her face changed rather quickly into a frown realizing that she no longer could play the piano with him sitting on the bench.

She got a determined look on her face and pushed at Benjamin hard, "Okay, it's Rachel's turn now!" While Benjamin didn't exactly fall off the bench, it did catch him off guard quite a bit. He overcompensated by flinging himself toward her to steady himself and ended up hitting her on the head with his own head. Both of them turned around and looked at me rubbing their heads with their hands with stunned looks on their faces.

I took that opportunity to suggest that we close the piano lid and "play" another time. They took that invitation and scrambled to be first to enter the other room. I listened as my sweet girl, the one who had willingly given up her time at the piano, screamed at her brother, "No, Rachel's first!"

*Sigh* Oh, well, none of us are sweet all the time...

The Blame Game

There comes a day in every mother’s life that she realizes her children are not just being disobedient as little individuals but are striving to work together as a team to be disobedient (and I thought it would be so much fun to have children so close together!). As I look at my little angels, I can look back at circumstances and situations and see who is the instigator and who is the willing participant of the disobedience. Rachel, my firstborn angel, little princess that she is, can smile sweetly at her little brother and tell him, “Go ahead, Benjamin!” And whatever it is she is enticing him to do, he is her willing servant. He adores his older sister wanting to do everything just like her.

It has come to this: if I know that Rachel is doing something I’ve asked her not to do and I say to her, “Rachel, please don’t do that.” She will look at me and say, “No, it’s not Rachel, it’s Benjamin.” As if I don’t know who is doing what! Did we really think our parents were that stupid? *Sigh* I already know the answer; I just don’t want to admit it!

The blame game sure does start early! It is so much easier to blame someone else, anyone else, than to blame ourselves, as is evident in my precious darlings. I can’t help but smile with pride though because they are so creative and very imaginative. They have learned to build things just to get to the highest point of anything – frightening!

I have to laugh A LOT to get through some days and pray OFTEN for wisdom and patience in disciplining them. And I have to remember that just like I am human, they are little humans (cute ones too!) who are just learning and it is my job, my honor, to teach them right from wrong – and I am truly blessed!