Monday, April 29, 2013

Real Life Parenting

That's what's been going on around here and the reason the blog has been ignored.  There is a certain someone whose birthday we celebrated this month, and I can't wait to share that, but that's not what I'm here for today.

Today, I am documenting this season of life.  This school year wrap up, life with five walking, talking, curious children who've learned much and have much to learn.

And their Mama, who is woefully aware that she has way more to learn than her children think.

We noticed a few weeks ago that we (as in we, the parents) were spending an enormous amount of energy repeating ourselves or calling our children back to take care of something that, in theory, we shouldn't have to tell them about (leaving shoes or pajamas in the middle of the floor, toys in the yard, etc).

Some of our kids are still too young to 'know' to do these things, but they are ALL old enough to obey simple commands.  Even Daniel puts his shoes away when told to.  Joshua and I firmly believe in training our children to share in the workload, so we start early.  As soon as a child is steady on their feet, the first thing we train them to do is to take their own diaper to the trash can/diaper pail when we finish changing them.  Picking up toys and shoes comes quickly after.

So, in theory, by the time a kid is, ohhh... let's just say 7 or 8, they should know to put their shoes away, right?  Right??

Maybenotsomuch.

After a particularly extended go round of do this, now come back and do it right, take care of your stuff, no, really, take care of your stuff, we decided to help them.  We took away all the distractions we could.  Screen time?  Down the tubes.  Toys?  All of them boxed up. 

Quit clucking your tongue at me.  It's not forever.

There were slumped shoulders as we worked to clean the rooms that were in horrible shape and sort through the clothes that may or may not have been clean (they ALL got tossed in laundry baskets because my OCD needs to KNOW those clothes aren't smelly and folded up to masquerade as clean clothes).  Which means that laundry has been going non-stop for days on end trying to catch up with the gi-normous influx.

There were misgivings as all the toys landed in boxes and the boxes stacked in the corners of their rooms.  Instructions to not touch those boxes under any circumstances were handed out and dejected looks were worn by everyone between the ages of 4 and 8.


But it's helped.  The first day after the great Toy Pack Up, it rained.  We built a fort and I held my breath.  Pandemonium did not break out and there were no tears or even any questions to watch a show on television.  Books and flashlights and pillows and blankets disappeared into the fort, and harmony reigned.

They don't have as many things tugging at their gnat-sized attention spans, so they appreciate one another and their own imaginations better.  They remember to make their beds every day.  After just a few days, they are more reliable about keeping their junk picked up.  We're almost ready to give the toys back.

Maybe.

It's been SO MUCH MORE PEACEFUL without things to fight over.  The weather if perfect for playing outside.  Suffice it to say, we're in no hurry to return the toys.  But we'll definitely consider it when they ask.  

A decidedly more lighthearted episode of Real Life Parenting found me wielding scissors near my not-quite-2-year-olds tender skin.

Daniel is going to poop while he naps.  It's just The Way Of It with that kid.  Today was no exception.

I got him up from nap and my poor nose was assaulted with the contents of his drawers.  I put him on the back deck and threw a package of fruit snacks to him.  A little something in his belly makes him more cooperative when it comes time to deal with the dud.

Once he was finished, I brought him inside and whipped his pants off him.  'Stuff' kind of flew out.  I grabbed his ankles together so he wouldn't kick the mess around and surveyed the damage.

He'd managed a diaper wedgie at some point and his mess was all over the onsie he was wearing, down his leg, up his side.  We eyeballed each other while I mouth breathed and called my minions to come forth his siblings to assist me in this hour of need.

Thomas ran upstairs to pour a bath for our stinky boy (only good ol' soap and water was going to cut through this stench), Elizabeth grabbed a towel to put under the baby so I didn't have to clean the floor anymore than the damage that'd already been done, Anna brought in a plastic bag to contain the trash, and Sarah Grace brought the scissors.

My baby was wearing a plain white onsie that had seen wear by most of his siblings and definitely better days.  I debated for less than a nano-second before I grabbed it at the collar and started cutting down towards the snaps.

There was no way I was going to pull that shirt over his head.

I'm not nearly as delicate as I was with the first child, but I am still not willing to put my hands in the mess any more than strictly necessary.

Nope.  I got all surgical and snipped it right off him.  All the kids stood around looking at me in disbelief.

I was cutting clothes! 

Instructions to NEVER-EVER-EVER-NO-NOT-EVER cut their own cloths off came out of my mouth as my brain conjured all kinds of exceptions in which I would want them to cut their clothes off. 

Truth: Real Life Parenting is a delicate balance. 

I'll let you know when I'm balanced.  M-kay?

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