Since becoming a mother, I have found on many occasions muttering, lecturing and reciting (sometimes word for word) things my own Mother said to me and my sister while growing up. Here are a few common ones that come to mind:
"Because I said so."
"Do you know how lucky you are to have each other?"
"Do I need to come up there?"
"Just wait till your father gets home!" Too name a few, but last week I found myself in new territory. A lecture, I for the life of me could not recall my own Mother using. I went something like this:
"The bathroom is not a place for food."
Why oh why don't I remember this one??
Oh, that’s right, my Mom owned girls.
I own boys!
Dirty, grubby, bouncing, climbing, jumping, gooey, mud pie making boys.
But I digress....
Here is what happened.
The scene: Downstairs bathroom. I was drawn to this scene when I heard slight cackling followed by something that sounded like "Quick... hurry.... before Mommy comes." This almost always sends me into a light sprint mixed in with dreaded fear. So it was no surprise when I found my feet moving themselves quickly towards the sound of the cackling. When I arrived I found the following:
Perpetrator # 1 The 5 year old. He is sitting on the potty, pants around the ankles feet swinging slightly, dum dum lollipop sticking out of his mouth, proud smirk on his face.
Perpetrator # 2 The four year old. Standing slightly behind his brother pants also down around his ankles. His little white butt is clenched in position as he is attempting to aim his pee pee stream in the small gap of space behind Evan and the back of the toilet lid.
The explanation: "Look Mommy" begins the 5 year old who speaks perfect English even with the dum dum lollipop in his mouth. "Ryan and I are going potty at the same time to conserve water like Daddy taught us. Isn't that cool?"
"Evvvaaannnnn!" The four year old begins to whine in a high pitched squeal, "move your hiney I can't see!!"
It's often moments like this I catch myself doing a double take of my children (my last double take involved a glue stick, a pair of scissors and the dog). They happen quite frequently around here and this indeed was a double take moment. I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. My boys, using the same potty, at once. One doing # 1 the other doing # 2, both successfully with lollipops.
Welcome new readers. Nice to have you. Please don't leave skid marks. I have to write about it or I would go insane....
Back to the scene in front of me I realized intervention was necessary but oh where to start....So many to chose from... But decided to go with the lollipop... Because......well.......Ew!
"Evan, the potty is not a place for food." I say and as calmly as I could, walked over to him and pulled it out of his mouth. It's half gone but has been in his mouth for so long that the stick has now turned into tissue paper and has decided to stick to his lip as I yank it away.
"MOOOMMM!" He yells.
"Do not MOM me." Is the only brilliant thing I can think of to say at that moment. I threw the stick in the trash and tried to decide which next to tackle.
"Ryan, why on earth are you using the same potty as your brother?"
"Because, he told me to." A gleeful Ryan announces, still standing in the exact same position I found him in although at this point he has finished and quite impressively did not get any pee pee on the back of the potty.
"If your brother told you to jump off a bridge would you do that?" I say reciting a classic and familiar lecture and feeling somewhat back in control. However, Ryan just blinks back at me unsure if he is in trouble or not.
"Mommy, I had to go pee pee." He begins, starting to defend himself. For added effect he throws in a minor lip tremor which he too can also do perfectly with a lollipop still in his mouth.
"Okay Okay..." Was my yet again my only brilliant come back at the time. I helped him pull up his pants, grabbed his lollipop out of his mouth and instructed him to start washing his hands. I told his brother to finish up and wash his hands and that they both were to meet me at the kitchen table for a "talk." Something they both know means Mommy is mad.
"I don't want a spanking...I don't want a spanking...." Ryan starts crying while at the sink. Crocodile tears in full effect, lip trembling even harder. He has enough soap on his hands to clean a small army and has forgotten to pull his sleeves up.
Oh these moments.....These sweet, sweet, labored and somewhat agonizing moments as a Mother.....I closed my eyes and counted to ten before speaking again. "You are not getting a spanking, just finish up, both of you."
And I stormed out of the bathroom stomping my feet for extra effect, a childish maneuver that I was fully aware but too frazzled to care.
I sat down at the table and begin to ponder my speech. Where does one start? This is new territory for me. In one hand I do remember very clearly overhearing Chris talk to the boys about conserving water. I do truly believe that their intentions were good. But I also truly believe that they were enticed by the idea of trying something new and different just for kicks. They do it every day. Pushing new buttons, setting off warning signals in my head. Walking across the back of the sofa..... swinging from the bar on the treadmill, climbing the shelves in the pantry, just to name a few.... They are fearless, clueless and oh so curious wrapped into one giant wad of pure unexpected moments.
Is there any hope here?
Will anything get through to them?
I am going to pause right here for a second. As funny as this story is, there is a serious side as well. I didn't set out for there to be one until I sat in church last Sunday and listened to the pastor talking about aligning our hearts with Jesus ( I know, going from a potty story to Jesus, but please bare with me…). This act of aligning sat with me for a few minutes as I listened to him encourage us to align our thoughts with God’s thoughts, and if we do, our lives will follow the course he has prepared for us.
I am often hit in the deepest part of parenting that no matter how hard I try to stay on a path, I get knocked off most of the time falling down and not sure how to get back up. I didn't recognize that moment in the bathroom was one of those moments until I sat in that service and listened, and it was there that I soaked in the fact that is every bit of God's intent. And I was suddenly filled with the emotion of pure gratefulness. I realized I want to be knocked off the path. I want to be thrown off course, because the act of getting back up is (crazy as it sounds) really half the fun.
Those little surprising moments…
At the time it didn’t feel like it, but underneath it all, (even the gross potty moments), I realized that the easiest yet also hardest part of parenting is aligning my hearts with theirs. Their hearts, their spirits, their hopes, their ambitions, their weirdness, their everything.
I wondered if my own Mom felt this way at times, if she too searched for the wonder in my sister and I. That sometimes a moment is simply that- “a moment.”
I also realized that even though the potty incident was a bit crass, it was also classically kid like. At least for my boys. They are at an age now where gross stuff is cool stuff. A phase that doesn't seem to be ending any time soon in our house hold.
But back to my story. I want to go on record and say that I did indeed address the lollipop’s in the bathroom, the act of respecting privacy and even found a way to praise Ryan for his aim. A mixture of lectures all wrapped up into a 2 minute speech that surprising enough, despite my best intentions to stay serious and focused, ended up with laughter and a trip to the park.
And it's moments like that- when I align my heart right back with their's, that I realize it never really left in the first place.
And that is without a doubt, the best moment of them all.
My sweet Little Perpetrators, staying out of trouble long enough for a photo!!