Saturday, July 3, 2010

Things My Two-Year-Old Taught Me: Part XIV

And then it got quiet.
Too quiet.  It took several moments too long for me to realize what the silence must mean.  Sometimes, I am so overcome with gratitude for the calm, I forget the significance.  As if rousing from a trance, I call out from my mom’s rocker/recliner - “bug?  what are you doing?”
There is no response.  I realize I never saw him return from the front hallway, where he had run earlier to retrieve his shoes so we could run errands.  “bug?”  I call out, louder.  As if the volume will make a difference.  As if he couldn’t hear me the first time.  As if he WASN’T just ignoring me.  
Mom looks up from the dishes.  She’s realized - several moments too late as well - what I have realized.
We hear a giggle.  We hear sloshing sounds.  I’m feeding the baby and can’t move as fast as mom.  She finds him first.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?”  I see her standing in the hallway, facing the laundry room.  She’s using a tone I know only too well from my own childhood.  The tone that means she knows full well WHAT you are doing, what she’s really asking is, “why? Why??? WHY???  For the love of everything holy, WHY?!?!?”
I toss mini on the ground (gently) and run for the laundry.  
In all my days I’ve never seen anything like it.
Blue laundry soap... dripping down the dryer, pooling on the floor, splattered on the walls, splashed across the door, oozing out each crack and crevice in the near vicinity.  The now empty jug, upside down - leaning on the dryer, eeking out its last breath of fluid.  And in the middle of it all, bug sitting with a huge grin, finger-painting the tile with sudsy blue streaks.  Heaven only knows how he was able to reach it from the back of the dryer top.
I must admit, even though I’ve heard all of the advice a million times, nothing prepared me for this moment.  bug’s very first, large scale, ooey-gooey, absolutely mind-boggling, jaw-dropping, make you want to cry and laugh MESS.  And it was at my MOTHER’S house.  With HER detergent.  
I know what you’re supposed to do in these situations.  You are supposed to run and get your camera.  You’re supposed to snap tons of pictures to use as blackmail later in life.  You’re supposed to be good-natured and laugh it off, saying “Oh, it’s only soap.  At least it wasn’t grape juice on the white carpet!  Silly bug, boys will be boys!”  
What I did do:  
What I WANTED to do:  
I wanted to scream.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to wring that little neck - just a little bit.  I wanted to stand him in the corner forever.  I wanted to make him put all of that detergent back in the jug using only a teaspoon.  I wanted to cover my eyes and wish it away.  I wanted to vanish into a corner for being the kind of mom who looses track of her child while visiting her mother and lets him do whatever he darn well pleases without regard for consequences because, well, he IS only 2 after all... I wanted to be a good mom.  
And I felt like a failure.  Because he’d trashed my mom’s house.  Because I hadn’t caught it in time.  But mostly, because I couldn’t laugh at the situation.
My mom - in true seasoned mommy fashion - ran for her camera and snapped pictures.  She patiently explained, “Oh, bug.  That was naughty.  I know you might think it’s fun, but it’s dangerous and too messy.  But I know you won’t do that ever again, will you?”  And then she scooped him up and put him in the bath - because laundry soap isn’t good for sensitive toddler skin (apparently).
And all I could do was try my hardest not to yell, stand in stupefied amazement, and use an entire roll of paper towels, two hand towels and a bath towel to mop up the mess.  I was still working when mom was done with bug and told me to leave it for later while we went on our errands.  Now THAT is a good mom.
bug’s now, officially, in the mess business.  If there’s a mess to be found, bug’s already there.  I hear it’s a common trait among boys, but bug has only recently begun to develop this passion.  And he’s always very sneaky about it.  As if he already knows messes aren’t welcome, so he’d better keep it hush-hush.  I guess you could say he’s a closet mess-maker.
And so, I suppose, am I.  I often make a mess of things... and I’m not just talking about leaving the dishes until we only have a lonely clean spoon sitting in the drawer.  Or letting my craft area get entirely out of hand.  Or never, ever making my bed.  I’m talking about foot-in-mouth messes.  Step-on-toes messes.  Over-full plate messes stemming from inability to say no messes.  
And those are all harder to clean up than detergent.  (I guess all you need for that is vinegar.  Huh.)
Moral?  Messes happen.  It’s how you handle them that determines your character.  I want to be like my mom.
Oh, and quiet moments never, ever signify “calm.”

the only quiet moments that are safe are when bug's asleep.
making messes takes a lot out of you.

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