So, I’ve just heard that Breathing Room is starting a Baby and Me Yoga class this Sunday at 2 pm (6 mos. to beginning crawlers). I know, I know: there are all sorts of classes starting all the time. But I know that moms with teensy babies often are looking for anything, anywhere, please-please-please, so I thought that I’d put it here. If you are looking for a particular type of class, send me an email or comment and I’ll pass it on if I find one. Or if you know about a teensy baby class or activity that I haven’t shared yet, then I’d love to hear about it. And if you are someone who’s trying to get people to your class/business, I’ll almost definitely at least add you to my list of links. So let me know.
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A couple of days ago, I was reading in a magazine about ways to get organized. And then I was a little disappointed, because I was already doing so many of their tips already. And the house is still chaos. I thought about it for a bit, and, the truth?
I blame the children.
Now, really, in the vast scheme of all children everywhere, they don’t suck. M is 7, J is 5, and they do help. They both know how to make their beds and clean their rooms, and they’ll do both. Not, you know, consistently, but occasionally unprompted. They help with setting the table, and they’ve been trained to clear their plates, etc. (although frankly, we’ve been slipping in that category). And you’ve heard that they put away their own laundry. So, you know. . . great. That’s all well and good.
But their belongings are like. . . you know what it’s like? Did you ever try to make sure that your basement was dry? And so you put those rocks in a trench around the outside of your house, but the water’s still oozing in through the walls, so then you get it painted with some special no-water-oozing-in protective sealant, but it’s not completely dry, so then you hire someone to cut French drains into your basement floor, and now you need a new sump pump, and next thing you know you’ve dropped thousands of dollars and your basement still smells like mildew?
Actually, our basement’s not too bad–we only had to do 3 out of 4 of those things and it’s pretty dry now (knock on wood!), although I’d certainly love to have spent that money on, you know, furniture or something purty. I’m just generally bitter about home repairs right now because we had a roof-shingle shower during that recent wind storm–are we the only ones? I’ll try to get over it, but I’ll probably remain peeved until the check has cleared for that one. My point was. . . about the girls, remember? It’s insidious, the way every square inch of my house becomes populated by their stuff.
So, just as an example, note that the otherwise clean living room is marred by J’s items which were abandoned hither, thither, and yon. Like I haven’t said approximately 600 times per year to pick up these things and put them where they belong (and yes, I did do a math-estimation thing to try to come up with a fairly accurate number).
The sheer number of items cast aside is staggering. Which is why I am awed by parents who are truly outnumbered. M arrives home and likes to peel her socks off and leave them on the floor by the back door every. single. damn. day. How many times do we have to discuss this? And I refuse to do laundry unless it is put in a hamper or on the washer, so then we have a Horrifying Sock Crisis which causes Great Turmoil and Gnashing of Teeth. And yet the lesson is never (or, at least, not yet) learned. And, you know, it doesn’t bother them in the slightest to have dirty socks rotting on the floor, but it drives me nutty.
Another habit that drives me nutty is that they’ll quietly create elaborate set-ups while I’m off doing something else. For example, they help clear the table and set it for dinner, sure, but I don’t realize that several mini-American girls are also invited to dinner, and two of them are “riding” in their slipper vehicles, and they all use several books as a booster seat. I don’t realize this until after the children have been sent to bed, and the next day I forget entirely until the following day, just after the children have been sent to bed.
(By the way, I’ll make a quick plug for that top book, We Were There, Too!: Young People in US History. Super cool and interesting stories from kids from early Colonial times right up to Ryan White being ostracized in school because he had AIDS. Okay: end of history geek commercial.)
Here, they’ve made some sort of stuffed animal palace by taking our nice master bedroom cushions and putting them on the dusty, dusty floor. In this case, they’ve scrupulously avoided making a mess in the master bedroom–which is forbidden. Instead, they take pieces from the bedroom and arrange them all over the house. It hadn’t occurred to me to tell them not to do this.
And what’s difficult is, part of me likes that they spend all of this time coming up with these alternate universes filled with re-purposed household items. Especially when they’re doing it happily together. I mean, we’ve got some creative, imaginative play with strong narratives. I recognize this, and it makes me reluctant to rip their creations apart. Or is that just because I am Wimp Mom? (Here is where I tried and failed to find an appropriate Roz Chast cartoon, so you’ll just have to content yourself with a not-quite-on-target Roz Chast cartoon.)
Truth be told, the girls aren’t the only perpetrators against the poor bedroom cushions. Our cat, Isis, thought that the lovely decorative tassle was a fancy-pants rodent that needed to be vanquished. Hail the Conquering Heroine.
So, I’ve been trying to decide lately if I need to just bring the hammer down on the current irritations (leaving belongings and creating fabulous set ups with wild abandon), or acquire some additional chores, or come up with a whole new combination system. Sigh. . . I hate instituting systems. For years, it seemed, every several months I’d hit a new parenting crisis and I’d skim about 8 parenting books on the topic and glean maybe two parenting tips that might help a teensy bit. It’s freaking exhausting. But I’ve done this one before, albeit with no lasting success. There’s always the Saturday Box, although I often forget to go around and pick up the stuff at night. Or a chart–I’m just so tired of charts. I mean, seriously? I have to go pull out the markers and stickers again? Aren’t we over this already? Do I add a disgusting chore as a stick to supplement my carrot stickers? Or I could just start throwing it all in the garbage, which is exactly what would have happened to me circa 1977. And which is actually what W threatens (emptily) when the spirit moves him. I guess I’ll have to come up with something.
And you know the worst part about trying to re-institute a Keep-The-House-Clean system, right? You have to manage to get the house clean in the first place.