Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Youthful Art of Room Cleaning

My mother always advocated a clean room.  She would stand and lecture us about pride of appearance, cleanliness and simply keeping things nice.  I didn't really get it.  Children have different ideas about clean than adults.  On top of that cleaning is a SKILL, not just a habit.  Where something goes is almost as important as putting it in its place.  Recently, we (my husband and I) have been working on teaching Cora to pick up her room and her own messes. 

Don't miss understand.  Niether Pete nor I are excessively cleanly people.  I'm sure his mother and hazmat still have nightmares about Petes high school room clutter.  My own Mother will occassionally mention the rope joke.  It has something to do with a walk in closet that usually resembled an overcluttered treasure trove of clothes toys and puzzles.  There might also be a story about finding molded paper mache projects tucked under my bed and encased in stuffed animal sized dust moosies. 

Today I discovered that our eldest has inherited her parents love for youthful clutter.  Her room, with barely space on the floor for walking was not offensive to her.  SHE could find stuff.  Pregnant Mom couldn't even make it her dresser.  Prior to pregnancy I would sit in her room and assist her in the task of dividing up the cleaning chores into little jobs ("first lets put away the puzzles")  and then supervising the overall effort.  It worked.  I was helping her sort and organize, and cleaning became a kind of game.

Her Dad has a different method.  Relying on old parenting tactics he gave good orders "clean your room!"  and then would check on it occassionaly, promising dire consequences for lack of continued effort, and praising the sight of the purple carpet.  It worked, and I was amazed at how little time it took Cora to accomplish clean with Dad directive.  "Supurb"  I thought to myself "No more babysitting, she understands the concepts of how to put stuff away." 

At least I thought she did until I noticed a cardboard brick sticking out from under her bed. 

Yep.  The catch all of my daughters cleaning efforts were simple.  Shove everything under the bed, and purple carpet appears faster, dad says you are done and you can play with the super interesting toy you lost and finally found under a layer of puzzle pieces to your sisters wood puzzles.  I laughed silently in self dirision, and then tried to drag some of the mess out of its hiding place.

I'm too pregnant to do this.  I realized.  I can't even lie down well, let alone move my arms efficiently. 

A super cleaning will have to wait, but at least I've learned a super lesson.  A three year old cleans the way all children eventually learn to do.  The FAST way, which involves finding a place your parents won't check and shoving all the clutter out of sight, and out of their minds. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to feel like a hero in five easy stitches

Today I finished a pair of impromptu and totally made up slippers for Cora.  They are slip-on crocheted wonders.  I use the word "wonders" only because the balls of brightly colored yarn look almost identical.  After the first one was finished Cora was so enamored with them she wanted to wear it around outside one footed.  I had to explain that I could not remember how to make number two without the first as a guide.

Molified she waited the hour or so it took me to finish the second slipper.  Once she tried them on and held her feet out to be admired, she began to exclaim.  "This is what I always wanted Mommy!  They are perfect!  They are absolutely beautiful.  You made me so happy Mommy!" 

The slippers are discarded on the floor by the chair.  They stayed on for less than five minutes.  The got put on only once after that.  I really do not care.  I made something for my eldest daughter, and she loved the gift and gesture.  If she never wears them again, I will see them and hear her little voice so filled with joy at her homemade footwear. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Small Hero

We have BIG concrete steps down to our patio.  Cora excells at big steps, because she has more legs than anything else.  Nyobi is not so lucky.  Nyobi is an inch taller at 15 months than Cora was at 17 months, but the length is spread evenly, not segregated to her lower extremities.  For Cora, the outside steps are a breeze.  For Nyobi, they are a place to stand, signal and yelp until her well trained and adoring older sister could assist her.

With a practiced face to face firemans lift/hug Cora would lower her sister one step, then step down, and do the final tier.  Nyobi knew just how to lean, just where to reach with her toes, and just when to let go.  You do not need speech for team work.  All you need is love, compassion and a closeness that I always hoped my children would share, and had no idea how to teach.

Of course, when you leave a willow built 32 lb girl to help a 26 lb girl down a flight of cement steps, as a parent you don't wander away.  No, you stay right there, and hover, and worry about little heals and balance, head injuries and broken limbs.  Today I watched the horror of my nightmares played out before my eyes.

I was outside as the pile of small limbs disentangled, and the gasping end to catastrophy burst into wails of anguish.  The wails of anguish sounded pretty awesome to me.  If my children can cry, they are probably not brain damaged so much as banged up a bit.  I blame the family cold for the poor balance, but I was amazed to find out how FEW injuries the girls sustained.

Given the hug hold, Cora fell backwards, and is big and strong enough she never hit her head, just her butt and elbows.  There are some nasty bruises and a small cut on one elbow, but those are her only injuries.  Nyobi, who seems to absorb catastrophes on the left side of her face, came up with a slightly scraped knee and some grubby hands.  Her head was cushioned by her sisters chest and stomach.

That is my small Hero.  Cora took the brunt of the fall and never let go of her sister.  One band aid, and two parents worth of hugs later, we had the girls back in working order and safely down the steps again.  Now I can give up my nightmares of broken limbs, and move on to some other imagined horror of un-safety in my back yard.