Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Little Things

It's not usually the big stuff that puts me over the edge. Sure, I have problems. But in general, when a crisis crashes into my home like a tidal wave, I find a floatation device. I call family, friends, ask my church for prayer, and depend upon the care of kind neighbors. There's an established system for these things, you see, and I'm grateful for that.

It's the little stuff that sucks me down into a whirlpool of whimpering. It's those tiny leaks in the dam, barely visible to the human eye, yet popping up faster than I can plug with my fingers and toes: the stench of the diaper pail; the wire colander falling apart at the metal seam that I can't seem to remember to replace; the backyard fence, built 2 years ago, but still missing the finishing trellis. You can't exactly call a neighbor in tears, citing your broken colander as the reason. Email Alert: Neighbor in Need! Send shiny, sturdy colanders on the double!

I didn't mind today when my girls dug a giant dirt hole in the backyard, filled it with hose water, took off their clothes, and splashed around in the mud. I even remained cheerful as Sylvia stood over the muddy hole and peed like a common neighborhood mutt. I calmly suggested that Sylvia pee in a far corner of the yard, away from their play area. I mean, let's not insists on the formality of using a proper toilet, since you're already covered in mud.

But when Eleanor retrieved and then dumped the entire pile of discarded clothing into the muddy-and-now-peed-in-hole, my thin branch of parental sanity snapped like a brittle twig underfoot. What to do? Call my sister to rant, and risk the Mom-is-on-the-phone-and-thus-we-must-mob-her-like-night-of-the-living-dead-zombies phenomenon?

Sigh. Deep breaths. This will not drown you. It's only clothes. "Hey Eleanor, there's a tub on the grass over there...I'll put some soap in it if you'd like to be in charge of cleaning those muddy clothes," I said. She took the bait.

And when the clothes were relatively clean (read: clothes were covered in specks of mud instead of chunks of mud), she set to work, repairing my broken sanity with the soft bandage of her cuteness:

"Did you know the AB-DO-MAN is part of a bug?," she asked excitedly. "It's the middle of its body!" She continued, "Bugs have antenna up here," pulling them out of her forehead like telescoping rods. "And guess what else? They have COMPOUND eyes," she said, squishing her fists into balls, placing them over her eyes in a perfect simulation of bug eyes, then dropping her hands and moving her eyebrows up and down at me to underscore their thrilling nature.

Next, Eleanor sat down naked on the deck (watch for splinters, child!) and colored her latest artistic masterpiece: a rainbow-hued rendition of the human brain that I printed from google images in an attempt to satiate Eleanor's brain-curiosity.

"Some artists might color each part of the brain a different color, right, Mama? And some might not. But I'm definitely choosing to," she narrated. When she finished, she pointed to different areas: "Where do you want to live, Mama? Would you like to live in California?" she asked, pointing to the temporal lobe. "Or," her finger now on the cerebral cortex, "how about in Oregon with Gramma and Grandpa?"

After a while, Eleanor washed up and came inside to help me prepare dinner. At first she ran back and forth, from the kitchen to the backyard (a mere 5 feet away), issuing reports on the behavior of Sylvia and Eli. "Uh-oh, Mama, BAD REPORT! Sylvia is putting mud on Eli's shirt..."

But then Eleanor spied my decrepit colander on the counter, and she hunkered down for her best work. A while later, with fanfare, she presented the colander to me, with countless twisty ties now holding the wire mesh to the metal frame.

I was happy. Like I said, it's the little things.


bgirl said...

laughing out loud at this post. many leaks happening over here too! eli is one lucky little dude to have such free spirited, take-charge sisters. what fun, why would one ever leave the living science lab your back yard has to offer?! i'll trade you some yard time for my extra colander!

slouching mom said...

It's so idiosyncratic, what makes us snap.

I'd have lost it before you did, I think. ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's one smart little lady!

I would have lost it with the mud. But that's me...

Lori said...

Ummmm, ya... I would have lost it! You sound amazingly calm about the whole thing, but I realize that may not have been true in real life.

Although I do remember when my boys were younger having to be much more tolerant about such things. Little ones simply need the room to explore and experiment, don't they? But the clothes in the mud... oh dear.

Amazing how they so easily endear themselves to us again, isn't it? Truly a miracle.

alicia said...

There is a reason why God made children cute - so we don't kill them in our moments of frustration!Feel free to call and rant any time. Chances are I'm at the end of my rope also.

You have much more patience that I do. I still struggle to let my kids make a mess with something (particularly indoors)- knowing that I'm the one who will eventually have to clean it up, regardless of how much they try.

I envy your ability to document your children's conversations. They are so precious and reveal so much about their personalities.

Worker Mommy said...

I love it. Just when you think you're absolutely going to loose it they do something precious!

Although with me its likely I lose it and then feel really guilty later :)

Seattle Mamacita said...

you're so right it is sometimes all those little things that pile up and seem more than a mole hill but not enough to call anyone up about..so glad you captured it all here because as alicia says it nicely showcases the 3 emerging personalities...

Jenn said...

Twisty Ties.

Who'd have known the answers were so simple?

jen said...

it is the little things. but those little things add up.