Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bathtub Soup

I spend much of my time practicing the well-known parenting philosophy of "Lord, help me." On good days I practice RIE. Read a little bit about it here. Basically it is about respecting infants and children as complete human beings.

Which reminds me of a huuuuuge pet peeve of mine. You know when you go to a restaurant and it's you, your spouse, and your child, and the host says, "2 and a half?" with a big ole commiserating fake-smile at you like, haha, kids, you know what I mean? Um, no. 3 people. One of us would like a high chair. I know it is a stupid thing to get peeved about, but I do. My child is a whole human person, not a half.

Anyway. So Thanks to RIE, this is the state of my shower...

Let's see that a little closer...

Not an accurate portrayal of the shower. 
I just photoshopped the mildew in there for comic effect.

The duck seems to be happy about his new roommate.

This is what we've been showering with for several days now. 
Don't judge me. 
Let's go back to the beginning of the story so I can explain...

In an attempt to be a hipster, I decided to make kale chips the other night. 
And btw, it worked- I am insanely awesome now.

I began vigorously washing the leaves in the sink (after our horrific dinner fiasco from last week in which I made pumpkin pasta with kale and apparently did NOT wash the leaves enough... it was like eating a picnic dinner at the beach while enjoying perfect kite-flying weather. My teeth hurt just thinking about it.) and naturally Lenny pulled up a chair so he could help. Typically there are rotting dishes in my sink with e.coli and God knows what else growing on them, with knives sticking out at every angle, and some raw meat thrown in for good measure, so I calmly explain to my dear son why he may not play in the sink and he says, "Yes, dear mother, I understand. I will go play with my 1 bajillion piece block set for 40 whole minutes while you make dinner and then clean up EVERY SINGLE PIECE when I've finished." 

That is what I like to pretend he is saying while dodging punches as he screams at the top of his lungs an unintelligible oath of revenge against me. Whee, isn't this fun? I tell myself this while *calmly and matter-of-factly* blocking him from hitting, pinching, scratching, kicking, biting, gouging my eyes out, etc. What a fun game we are playing, I think, trying to keep my sanity, as my defense is not up to par and in fact one of my eyes has been gouged out and has rolled under the stove, coming to rest in a pile of toast crumbs and shriveled pieces of onion along with a twisty-tie, a train track, and Green Lantern. 

Thank you for saving me!
I shall return the favor someday...

Amazingly, the sink is clean, so I let him join me. We wash and tear up the leaves and he asks to keep two for himself so they can "grow into flowers." Sure, kid, whatever floats your boat. Thanks to RIE I know kale is the latest, greatest toy out there! He then insists on taking all the naked stems, along with the two still-leafy ones, outside to play. My RIE radar says yes. So he gladly, with a sense of purpose, fills up the colander and carries it down the steps and out to the porch. I sit down with Carolina in my lap and watch him as he plays. The second he goes down the steps, it begins raining (of course). So I ask myself, what would Magda Gerber do?

I like to envision Magda Gerber as a sweet old grandma by day and as the Einstein of childcare by night. 

On a bad hair day, I could TOTALLY get an Einstein vibe.

When I'm not sure of what answer I'm going to give Lenny, I try to ask myself WWMGD? It's weird because I always see her face in my mind, but she always answers in my voice. She/me says to go ahead and let him play in the rain. Mostly for the fact that I've called him to come back, he ignored me, and I don't want to get wet. 

He's invented a game of washing the kale in the "puddle" (read: flat, wet sidewalk) and is having tons of fun so I go with it. After about 10 minutes he starts shivering, so I mention that he looks cold and would he like to go inside for a nice warm bath. Of course he does so we gather up his toys and thousands upon thousands of pieces of kale (apparently he has been performing some sort of Mickey Mouse multiplication sorcery on them) and set them down by the door along with his wet clothes. 

Sweet little naked Lenny asks to bring the kale into the bath and I instinctively say no, envisioning a trail of greens leading up the steps and into my bathroom. "Yes, dear mother," he says. "I understand. It would be a huge and insurmountable hassle for you to allow vegetables as proxy for bath toys." This is a very loose translation of his desperate screams and cries as he goes all wet limp spaghetti at the front door. When I say loose I do not mean two margaritas loose. I mean the kind of loose that you really just don't talk about in a Christian home, ya'll. 

And then my voice/Magda Gerber's face in my mind says, Why not? "Choose two," I tell him, and he grabs six or seven, looking absolutely delighted. So three minutes later I am enjoying my triumphant toddler entertaining himself in the tub while I lounge uncomfortably on the bathroom stool and nurse the baby. And it is definitely worth it. Even though the kale has now migrated from the tub to every crack and crevice of the bathroom. Thus the current state of our shower.

Dude. This is awesome.

Sometimes my kids drive my crazy but there are also the times when I look at them and I am just floored. I am completely humbled, knowing that I am a mother and God chose me to care for these two amazing children. These times tend to happen when I let go of "supposed-to-be" and just BE, when I just watch my children and let them teach me what life is all about.

I just have one small critique of the RIE method. 
I know it advocates for using real-life items as play things, but I mean, come on.

This kale is not gonna clean itself up.
Ya know?

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