It was my fault for thinking I could give those boys a snack in the playroom and walk away.
It was that boy’s fault for thinking he could spill that mango juice all over the train table and then drive all his damn matchbox cars through it.
It was really that boy’s fault for not telling me about the spill and making me find it instead of just telling me!
And that was it. That was it. Ohhhhh, that was it!
Because you see, I already had that playroom in my sights this weekend. There had been a few warning shots Saturday morning: “We gonna get at that playroom sometime this weekend,” I kept muttering every time I came down the stairs and had to look at the disaster. The boys are doing this thing where they dump out every single damn toy in that room and then distribute them all over the room in their wild abandon-style play. Fine! I tell myself. Let the children play! That’s why we purchased this house! We wanted them to have their own space where they can be as loud and messy as they want to be! Because boys are wild, loud and messy. And spoiled boys, with every toy under the sun (and oh, Lord, how did all these toys end up in this house!?) are even wilder, louder and messier! What’s worse, when they are done destroying the playroom, they start bringing toys into the living room! I cannot even!
As I was saying, that playroom was on my radar. And I had been warning two little boys. I was tellin’ them that it was comin’.
and they, little devils that they are… they kept denying me. “Oh no, Mama! We don’t need to clean it!”
“No, no, Mama! Silly Mama! We aren’t cleaning!”
“Nu uh, Mama! We aren’t cleaning the playroom!”
“No, Mama! We aren’t gonna clean!”
Mmmhmm, I would say… then I’d get ready for the fight. But there was distraction. So much in the way of my goin’ up in there to rectify the situation. The Husband had home improvement stuff that needed a second set of hands. Or we were cooking. Or the phone would ring…
Well, shit hit the fan at 3:30 yesterday. I was on the phone with my grandmother, The Husband was outside staining the second picnic table, and two little boys were banished to the playroom so I could gossip without being interrupted. I appeased with a normally unapproved snack: a bowl of chips and a cup of juice for each little boy. Of course, I navigated the obstacle course that was their mess and then plopped down the bowls on that train table. Do you know what two little boys did? These two boys are gonna look at me and, instead of saying “thank you,” they gonna ask me why! “But why are you giving us juice right now? Why are you giving us chips? Can’t we have sandwiches?”
Foolish Mama. Stupid, stupid Mama! Should have taken it all back right then and there!
Instead, I walked away and enjoyed my time with my grandmother (who told me to “let them two boys alone. They’re growing. Sometimes growing boys forget their manners!” So forgiving…). That’s our designated time and I hate to miss it. When I was done, I went out to check on The Husband and give him the estimate on dinner… then I went into the playroom to collect the bowls and cups from two little boys.
What I found was mango juice spilled all over the damn table. End to end. A syrupy yellow mess.
And two little boys racing around the table, one car in each hand, making streaks in it, spreading it thin and getting it all over themselves.
“What in the…?”
“Oh, um… I forgot to tell you that I spilled my mango juice…” Major said.
“Did you forget or did you choose not to tell me about the spill?”
“Um…well… I wanted to play… so…”
“So you made a choice not to tell me?”
“I made a choice not to tell you…”
This is a good start. But then he did this: “But I guess you can clean it up now.”
Umph. Umph. Umph.
“Clearly a little boy has no inclination of how hard Mommy works to keep this place clean around here!” I screeched. “I guess you are going to have to find out!”
First, we cleared the table of all the sticky-sweet matchbox cars and put them in one of the empty plastic storage bins. I filled it with hot water and soap. (“When will they be clean?” he asked me. “When I decide they are,” I answered coolly.)
Second, I made that child clear the table, bringing the plates and cups to the kitchen. (“But they are sticky…” he complained. “Whose fault is that?” I asked.)
Third, I made him stand there with his hands under the super hot water with a rag, and made him pour the soap on it. I made him wipe down that table three times, going back and forth from the sink. (“But it’s clean now!” He told me after he couldn’t see any more yellow. “Sugar stays!” I told him.)
Fourth, I made him dry it. (He actually liked this part. Giggled the whole time. Lordy…)
And then, I made them both clean that playroom.
They started to whine.
But I had all the leverage: “For every time I hear a whine or complaint, or see a boy stop cleaning or start playing, I will take two of your little cars and throw them in the trash!”
They had that whole room clean in 20 minutes. Not a peep.
And then we talked it out.I explained that I wasn’t mad that he spilled the juice. I was mad that he left it as a surprise and made a bigger mess. We had to work that out a bit, but he got the message. There are differences between mistakes, accidents and choices. Mistakes and accidents are acceptable. Choices we have to work on a bit more. I think he gets it, but we’ll be circling around this one for a while…
I’m not trying to be a mother who is constantly yelling and scaring her children. Then again, I didn’t sign up to be a maid, either! It’s clear that I’ve made things a little too easy for my eldest child, allowing him to see me as “that person who cleans” rather than “that person who works hard and gives me the opportunity to play and learn and grow.” We’ve gotta strike a better balance here. It’s gonna take time, but every lesson will be valuable. We both have a lot of learning and growing left to do. 🙂
It’s a new week. It has the air of “the week after” in a weird kind of way. The paradigm is shifting and there is still a sort of newness process. I’m grateful to you all who read my posts last week and either commented on the blog or sent me emails afterward. I wish I could contribute more. My simple, meager words will have to be enough for now.
There is so much work to do, Dear Reader. Let’s recover this week and get something done.
Until Wednesday, stay safe and take care.