I really feel like I was a better mother when I only had one child. It’s not that I necessarily had more patience – though I probably did – it’s that I made more of an effort to let my oldest (then, only) do ‘interesting’ stuff. At least, stuff that I considered interesting.
I’d put him in a high chair or a booster seat and give him watercolor paints and brushes and paper. Or, put containers of water or flour or lentils or dried beans before him with various little vessels (aka measuring cups) and cars, so that he could do whatever he wanted. And though the clean-up was always a little time-consuming, it was worthwhile (in my estimation) because it kept him occupied for a LONG time. Plus, I figured, it was making him smarter. Or something. Montessori-light.
Well, the Hen is beyond the nineteen month mark and I’m pretty sure the kid has never sat before a bowl of flour. Or lentils. I rarely let him paint because now it is twice the mess to clean up. And the Calgary home has carpet instead of easily cleaned hardwood floors. And I’m beyond paranoid that something disastrous will happen to the vile taupe carpet and we’ll have to replace it.
But today, when Mr. G came into my room and asked in a whiny voice ‘can I watch a movie,’ I decided they needed to do something more ‘interesting’. ‘Why don’t you play with flour,’ I suggested. Because I’m utterly stupid. There was a significant amount of excitement and we walked to the kitchen – outfitted with linoleum floors – to get everything ready.
I rolled up the rugs. I got out the bread-flour-laden-with-flax-seeds (an ‘oops‘ purchase that was used only once) and the measuring cups. It was fun. All were happy. I’d go in periodically to sweep up whatever was lying on the floor so as to avoid having a flour trail throughout the house.
But, then, I let a few too many minutes go by.
I walked in the kitchen and found les incompetents lying on the floor. The remains of someone’s bowl(s) dumped all over the floor.
‘Look, we’re making snow angels’, my oldest remarked.
As soon as my youngest saw that I was looking, he got down on the floor to make a snow angel too. Though he didn’t quite ‘get’ that you were supposed to put your head all the way down on the floor. And move your arms up and down. He rather resembled a snow beetle.
And of course, it couldn’t end there. Mr. G started scooping up hand fulls of flour and…..stuffed them into his brother’s diaper. Because that’s what you do.
The floury clothes were removed in the kitchen and both boys went upstairs for a bath. They were mad when I washed their hair, but what choice did I have, there was flour everywhere. To quote my oldest, ‘I [had] no choice today.’
Did I mention the flour contained flax seeds? For some reason the Hen ended up with the lion’s share of flour/seeds in his hair. Which didn’t come out after just one washing. So now it looks like he has a severe case of enormous lice in his blond locks. I tried combing it into a respectable state – we were going to look at another house to rent after all, and I didn’t want the landlord to think we were un-hygienic. But there was little to be done.
Save another bath, of course.
I put the boys to bed. At 6.58pm. Because we‘d seen quite a lot of each other and needed some space. The Gort was downstairs within fifteen minutes. ‘We forgot to read Stuart Little,’ he reminded me. Not out of any particular attachment to the book – just because he had run out of paper to draw upon and still wasn’t asleep.
‘Okay, I’ll be right there. I just need to get a drink of water.’
I got the Brita filter and poured a glass of water. Or, rather, started to pour a glass of water. I heard a rattling noise. Like there were rocks in the top. And then I had a flashback.
I suddenly remembered seeing said Brita filter in the middle of the kitchen floor a couple of hours earlier. Having assumed that Mr. G had poured himself a drink, I didn’t think much of it, and put it back on the counter.
I lifted off the lid. The compartment was filled with rocks and cars. All covered in flour.