Toddlerstilsken

by doodaddy on June 9, 2009

It’s after midnight and I’m wiping down the dining room table for the third time today. At three, Boo has mastered the skills necessary for fine dining but remains less interested in demonstrating said table manners than in performing creative food experiments.

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Boo pretends she’s laundry
to get my attention.

Tonight, I find that she’s somehow julienned a cucumber slice into a strong glue, adhering remnants of cheese and crumb to the table, the seat and legs of the chair, and the rug. The virtues of the eat-in kitchen (which we don’t have) over the dining room (which we do) have never been more clear.

All this time, I’m trying to calm my inner chore voice. It’s not a proper voice so much as an alarm system: when I perceive an undone task I feel an involuntary ping! against my skull, a little like I imagine dogs must feel who’ve been fitted with those horrible bark-discouraging electroshock collars.

  •    That tree on the patio needs to be repotted or else binned. Zap!
  •    The garbage is starting to smell vaguely reptilian. Oooof!
  •    Hello Kitty ice pack, infant ball, three pairs shoes, tray from high chair – just a random sample of what remains strewn about the floor. Pow! Ker-plop! Flrbbbb!

Conventional wisdom dictates that I should let the chores go undone and pay attention to my kids, my family. “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” trumpet the parenting magazines, written I’m sure by people who don’t have kids under 5 at home any more. I suspect that forgetting one’s days as parent to an infant and young kid is a natural human defense mechanism against insanity.

Besides, it doesn’t work. The small stuff becomes the big stuff if you let it pile up too long. You tell me that now is the time to play with my kids — well, now’s also the time to decide what kind of environment I want them growing up in and try, and mostly fail, to engineer that environment.

So it’s back to the chore board. But I can’t help wishing that an art-organizing, puzzle-piece collecting, food-residue scrubbing elf would suddenly appear.

Or maybe, I think as I wipe toothpaste-and-spittle spray off the bathroom mirror, just maybe he has.

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tagged as in exhaustion,housework,teaching ·

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nan June 9, 2009 at 5:03 am

You’ve pinged my memory!! We have little elves too! Whenever anyone in the family cleans something, the rest of us gasp “Little elves came!” we look at the ceiling and say “Thank you little elves! Now that Mum doesn’t have to clean up, she has more time to make chocolate smoothies!!” It’s a great game!

It first started when we had a maid, and we would all stagger in exhausted at the end of a long day and find the house totally clean. I would cry “The little elves came!” I guess the boys realised that when little elves had come, yummy dessert was more likely and storytime was longer.

I think you have just given me a post!

Reply

doodaddy June 9, 2009 at 5:06 am

@Nan – Glad I could help! I would cry, too. I’m sure it’ll happen some day. Ah, some day.

Reply

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