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.