Sometimes, I wonder if it’s my fault. Do I yell too much? Not enough? Should I use reward charts? Bribery? Timeouts? And how on earth could boys possibly be more work than my girls?
Allow me to back up a bit. Yesterday morning. The girls woke up before me, as per usual. They played nicely in their room for a little while, then I heard them head downstairs. I was still nursing Bianca, but by the time Nate got down there, they had helped themselves to juiceboxes and ritz crackers. I’m cool with that. Independence! Self-sufficiency! Good stuff, this. Nate headed off to work, and we started our day.
I’ve been trying to do better about keeping my room nice and neat- it’s just so much nicer to go into at the end of a long ass day. Neat, bed made, the whole nine. As I was making my bed, the girls were hiding underneath it, and I’m not gonna lie- I felt like I was winning at this stay-at-home-mom gig. “Where are you? Are you under the sheet?” (straighten, tuck) “Are you in the curtain?” (pull open, tie back) “Are you under Daddy’s socks?” (chuck into hamper) etc. They giggled when I “found” them under the bed and I happily headed downstairs to make them a nutritious bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.
In the six minutes it took me to nuke two bowls of oatmeal and call them downstairs, they managed to dump out every drawer in my entire bedroom, not to mention completely strip my bed of all blankets, pillows, and sheets. I came into the room to find them both jumping on my bare mattress, in swimsuits, saying “We made a pool in your room, Mama! We’re going swimming!”
And I… I didn’t even care. They were quiet. A pile of clothing that needed to be sorted through anyways, and a set of sheets that probably was about due to be washed, so no biggie. We left the pool, headed downstairs for breakfast.
After breakfast, they went back upstairs to “swim” while I cleaned up the kitchen and then nursed the baby. So maybe 10 minutes? Maybe 15?
That’s when I noticed it was quiet. Like, trouble quiet. They were jumping off the bed into a pile of clothes. There should be more banging. I also suddenly noticed a smell. Not a bad smell, a kind of nice, lotiony… OH SHIT, LOTION! RED ALERT!
I yanked the baby off the boob, threw her into her swing, and I ran up the stairs, two and three at a time. I pulled open my shut bedroom door (never a good sign, when they shut the door) to find… Powder. Lots of it. The two of them sitting there on my still bare mattress. Fiona in her swimsuit. Violet in her altogether. Completely covered in what turned out to be 2 and a half bottles of baby powder and a small bottle of tea tree oil.
Allow me to interrupt myself here to throw out a little disclaimer: we don’t even USE baby powder! It’s bad for babies because of the potential for inhalation and asthma and lung issues and blah-di-blah-blah-blah. I have it because you always get it in those big gift baskets people give you, and so it was in a drawer in the changing table and only gets used on those super hot summer nights when I powder the kids down before bed so they have a chance to fall asleep before their little bodies turn into little puddles of sweat. (This happens like 2 nights a year, this is Canada, after all.) To reiterate: we don’t use baby powder cause it’s bad news to breathe it in.
And yet here they are, rolling around the bed in the white powder like it’s Wall Street circa 1986. I was speechless.
I throw them in the shower, drag the vacuum cleaner upstairs. Commence the cleanup. As I vacuum, I begin to settle, and by time the two of them have cleaned themselves off, I’m actually not even mad. Now my room smells nice, my bed has fresh sheets, and the carpet is even freshly vacuumed. I direct their naked little selves into their room so I can finish up without them turning the remaining powder into paste. A few moments later I hear a crash, followed by a “Uh-oh.”
Run down the hall. Yeah, apparently they’d taken my old full length mirror (which has been sitting behind my bedroom door for months) into their room at some point that morning. You see where this is going. Glass shards all over their bedroom. Luckily they were both in the baby’s crib when they tipped over the mirror, and so I just had to lift them out of the room and shut the door until I was ready to deal with it.
I parked their still naked butts on the couch and plugged them into some always-there-for-me PBS programming, and returned upstairs to finish what ended up being the the second room of the day that got a deep clean. I wasn’t even mad. I was just glad they’d dragged all Violet’s baskets of clothes into my room before the shatter and so I didn’t have to worry about glass shards in all her clothes.
So that was my morning. Thank the good lord in heaven above, I already had plans to go out with friends last night. So I was able to escape and leave bedtime to their father.
(Today began with the two of them dumping all the mini chocolate chips into the container of brown sugar, and then dumping a healthy amount of that onto the counter and floor. So yeah.)
To sum things up: I must be doing something wrong, or not doing something right. This can’t be normal. I talked to my mom, and she’s cared for a LOT of kids, and even she said this is above and beyond typical 4-year-old behavior. Based on the recent messes of brown sugar (this is the second time it’s happened), hot cocoa mix (an entire container got dumped on the floor to “grow a chocolate tree”), and the powder yesterday… I’m thinking maybe a sensory table is in order. With rice. Something needs to change. I am at the end of my rapidly fraying rope.