The kids play with them for about five hours less than the time they play with the box it came in. Our stomachs growl in hunger for the lunch we skipped to pay for that toy (and its box). Then, to add insult to injury, we find the toy and its brothers everywhere.
And so, I have concluded that we need to no longer fund this operation. My husband decided that long ago, and continually reminds me of this resolve every time he has to walk in the house.
I’ll hear his voice from the boys’ rooms: Who left all these Legos on the floor! We need to put these all away till they learn to clean up!
Then there was the time of The Battle of the Art Cupboard. I’d hear everything from, Who painted the floor? to Who didn’t clean up after his papier-mâché? to Why is there confetti all over?
I tried. Sort-of. I limited birthdays and Christmases to number and cost. I encouraged thrift and order. I devoted about a decade to teaching (yelling at) our miniature houseguests the meaning of “Clean up.” I cleaned on my own; again and again and again.
In frustration, I moved most of the mess out of general sight and set up a toy room in our unfinished basement.
As my husband and I snuggled in to immediately fall asleep all romantic-like, he said, We need to keep the kids’ toys in their closets. The basement is getting too messy.
People have long joked that their washing machines lose socks. No matter how fastidious they are about tracking those little buggers, a black hole opens up somewhere along the laundry path and orphans many a sad pair. I can relate, of course, yet I can also compete.
My washing machine not only eats socks; it also eats underwear and sports uniforms AND uses the digested materials to create plastic fish, Nerf darts, a plastic witch finger, and (I kid you not) packets of condiments.
I’m not sure why or how I came to own such a gifted machine as this, though I did notice its magical properties exhibited after we had children.
…It’s probably coincidental.
Unlike a dog delivering the paper or a cat delivering mouse organs, I haven’t much use for the presents I find in the laundry. I also tend to worry about the objects’ effects on the clean clothes. The fish and Nerf darts and witch finger are usually well-behaved, but the mayonnaise and ketchup are not exactly fabric softeners.
And, I’m concerned about using something created from a process I can’t see. What if the washer’s methods involve lint and elastic waistbands?
As helpful and generous as the washing machine is, I would rather have the powers in reverse. Instead of my son’s karate pants becoming a beanbag frog, I could deposit mustard and hot sauce in return for a red and gold soccer uniform.
I’m sure I would at least get a pair of socks.
This past week’s posts:
Sunday, March 10: “Selfish Selflessness,” a post outlining the tough midpoint we mothers find ourselves in.
I wasn’t initiated into the throes of motherhood for too long before I discovered two important things:
When a child is screaming bloody murder, he needs attention.
When a child is not screaming, crying, yelling, or even breathing noises, he needs attention.
Erma Bombeck, one of the best writers on life and parenting I’ve ever read, said that boys are easier than girls to raise because they tell you what they are doing. Since I now have a decade of experience in raising tiny males, I can say this is almost true.
Yes, my boys will tell me what they are doing. Mostly, I’ve noticed, that telling is when the story involves what video or computer game they love, what potty joke was in Captain Underpants, and how many times one of them farted yesterday.
In case you wondered, he reached 27 before he stopped counting.
I am just like mothers of any children, however, in that I also discover wrappers, holes, stinky clothing items, marker smiley faces, and objects not put away -that no one is responsible for. I remember that “Family Circus” comics denoted this with a ghostlike kid named “Not Me.” Other issues had a “Nobody” and an “Ida Know.” All of those, plus related cousins, visit our house at least once a day.
So; yes, my boys will tell me which of them put the boogers on the booger wall. They’ll tell me who smashed the box so well it made an AWESOME! dent. In fact, they will also tell me who left items out whenever it is not them.
But whenever they are home and I haven’t heard a peep for five full minutes, I know it’s time to for all systems to be on alert.
If you haven’t experienced the joys of active children yet, this is my parenting advice for today:
When it’s too quiet, investigate.
Your house, cat, spouse, neighbor, and evening plans will all thank you.