Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You did what?

The weather is screwing with the flow of parenting in most unfortunate ways. Last winter we had no winter. I never once put on a coat. Then, it rained all summer. I wore a bathing suit all of three times. This winter there have been multiple snow/ice storms mixed with one rare day of seventy degrees. But mostly it's been very cold.

As a parent going outside is a clutch part of the day. Especially as a stay at home parent. It's a relief for everyone. It's freedom and messiness and all things nature. There is a revival of the worn out spirit when the children can run free, swing, and ride bikes. It's like a mini getaway that requires almost no effort.

So when weeks and weeks go by where playing outside may happen once or twice, things get hairy. The glamour of being crafty is but a memory. There are only so many times you can build a fort or make cookies. No really. Even for me there is a threshold for the number of times that I can make cookies with small children.

All of this being said, I have begun to reach a point where drawing out the use of imaginations is vital. When we all get restless and the day seems to be caving in I will sit the kids down and have a chat. I will say this to my big blue eyed babies:

"What could you possibly do in this house that would be fun that you never thought of before? Sit here and think on that, and then go do it."

Sometimes they tell me what they are going to do. Sometimes not. Clearly there are rules. For instance, you cannot paint or draw on items other than yourself or paper. And, you cannot break things, hurt anyone, or destroy the house. You know. Obvious stuff. I have only had the above chat a handful of times. Until yesterday it worked like a charm. And even yesterday they followed the rules…technically.

I went to fold some laundry and let their imaginations take over. Usually this involves putting on crazy outfits and pretending to go to the beach. One time they set up a doctor's office in Lila's room and doctored every stuffed animal we own. This is the age where imagination is the most magical part of life. Everything is pretend and silly and wonderful.

Except for when they decide, as they did yesterday, that the toilet was a place to wash things.

What do you do when your almost three year old brings you a handful of sopping wet pacifiers (that she still uses in her bed) and tells you emphatically that she cleaned them all by herself IN THE POTTY?

These moments are the fastest and the easiest to royally screw up. And screw it up I did. I may or may not have sort of freaked out. I plugged up the sink, dumped a bunch of soap in, and frantically told my beaming girl to stick the pacifiers in the sink. I then covered her hands and arms in soap. I asked in a panicked voice what else had gone through the "potty washing station" and her eyes welled up with tears. Had she not done what I asked her to do? Had she not used her brilliant little imagination for fun? Yes. Yes she had. And yet here I was ruining the fun.

Then Lila comes strolling in with a handful of little trinkets that were surely destined for "cleanliness". I quickly said, "Oh no you don't!". She wasn't quite as stunned. In fact, I think I saw a smirk. Evie was the mastermind, but somewhere inside Lila knew this was not a wise choice. She thought nothing of it and ran off to go do something else while I consoled a devastated Evie. She began to tell me how she was trying to help me clean. She began to talk about how the passies were getting so clean and how she was going to dry them off too. She went on and on about how she was pretending that the potty was like a car wash for her toys. Tears streaming she tried to explain her brilliant plan in all of it's glory. I plopped onto the floor and listened knowing that while she spoke I had to figure out how to fix this AND be sure that nothing would ever again be washed in the toilet. In that moment I realized for the millionth time that parenting is more like rocket science or brain surgery without any sort of awards or high pay scales.

Evie and I recovered. I decided to praise her for a job well done, and I apologized for getting upset. I also decided that a lengthy conversation about appropriate cleaning areas in the house was one that required proper prior planning. And, clearly, there was a much needed conversation to be had with Lila about knowing when to speak up about a bad choice being made.

To say that spring and summer can't get here fast enough is quite an understatement. But thank God for entertaining and imaginative children who keep things interesting until playing outside resumes!


  1. This is great and made me laugh so hard! What a great idea Evie!

  2. I definitely feel your pain. Good to know I'm not the only one. It has been a long cold winter and I run out of things for the boys to do in the house so they inevitably just destroy everything in their path. I would have reacted the same way you did. I usually freak out at first! Parenting is definitely a challenge and rocket science is a good comparison.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...