A tale of parallel universes. Or, “On the Facebookification of Motherhood.”
Version One: Pinterest Super Mom.
With Day Light Savings time shortening our evenings, our days are cut short and so the kids and I aren’t able to have our evening adventures. Where we once enjoyed neighborhood strolls to check out neighbors’ Halloween decorations, or last minute jaunts to the playground to run off our energy the good old-fashioned way, now we have dark skies and limited options. It’s a cozy, but also somber time of the year.
Tonight, I wanted to do something special. Find a way to bring the outdoors in, and create a sensory experience we could all enjoy. Both of my little ones are getting over colds, so a long, warm bath seemed like a good plan. But how could I make it grand? I made a mental checklist of my well-stocked craft shelves, and pondered.
Bath paints! That was it. It was a project for which I had both easy components on hand: foamy shaving cream and liquid watercolors. And its set up would be almost as fun as playing with it in the bath, to boot. Edie, my four year old, clambered to help me mix the paints. With only a bit of supervision, she was able to squeeze out the liquid watercolor into the plastic bowl of shaving cream and then stir it up. She watched as the color turn from white, to psychedelic, and finally to a solid and vibrant shade. We made four colors in all.
Our Paint Station
We then took our wares to the big bathtub, where dad and baby brother, Eli, were waiting. Then, the kids each got a “palette” and they set to work! They painted the tub walls, themselves, and of course, each other too. We played until the paints ran out, and then turned it into dishwashing fun. I piled all the dishes and spoons we’d gotten dirty, along with a couple clean rags, and they rubbed and scrubbed, much to their delight. After a quick rinse, they were both ready to get out.
Even a quiet Friday night at home, where everyone gets to bed on time, can be an event to remember!
Story 2: Straight Talk.
Thanks to Day Light Savings time, I no longer stuff my gremlins into the stroller for a walk pre-dinner, to get some fresh air, exercise, and sweet sweet peace. That 5 p.m. hour is no joke, and being trapped in the house with them then can be harrowing. It’s the time of day they start their tortured dance of staying up in each other’s business until one of them snaps, and smacks the other in the face. And repeat. The screaming would be sad if it wasn’t so utterly unnecessary, essentially, self-inflicted.
Tonight, all screen time limits were off because I have a raging head cold that one of them bestowed upon me through some fateful and unbidden exchange of bodily fluid. Have you ever had a little kid ask to tell you a secret, and then when you are one millimeter from their face, they sneeze into all of your head’s orifices? It’s unpleasant, but super efficient, if you are a virus. More so, though, because Will and I had an architect over today to discuss plans for potentially adding onto our house. The central goal of this project, by the way, which, if it indeed comes to fruition, will involve ripping off the roof, is motivated primarily from my desire to sleep much further away from my children than I currently do. So, in short, Frozen was playing from 4 to 5 pm so that we could talk to an adult in our own home.
Then we ate really early since both parents were actually home at 5 pm for once. The kids each only hated part of the meal. Plus nobody cried. Or, if they did, I blocked it out. Success! Edie wanted a piece of Halloween candy, so they each got a mini bag of m&ms after managing not to gag through dinner. Job well done, entitled little American babies. I tried to show them that the proper way to eat m&ms is to make a bar graph with your colors to assess what you’re working with. Apparently this is a personal idiosyncrasy because my husband seemed alarmed, and the children were entirely unimpressed.
After no one wanted to graph candy with me, I got to thinking. It’s really early still. And they really haven’t done much this afternoon. What if … what if they won’t go to sleep? Will kept chanting “Time for a bath!” to two uninterested children because he is nothing if not stubbornly optimistic that he can make bedtime happen if he wants it bad enough.
As I am the real brains and inspiration behind this family, I knew it was up to me to take charge. The kids were antsy, and I felt a little bad about their lame afternoon. In order to bridge the gap between a single minded husband who was stuck on repeat with this whole take a bath thing, and two kids who were bored, I thought of bath paints. It was not divine inspiration. It’s something I’ve done before for rainy day playtime, with varying success. I went through a period of compulsively buying art supplies, books, educational toys, all as some kind of therapy where I could tell myself, as I filled that Amazon cart or basket at Michael’s, that this would be the key to ending nonstop sibling infighting. End result being, I have a lot to work with.
Edie yelled after me and spastically demanded to help. I’d planned to make them myself, but, sure, actually this seemed like it would be a good project for her. So I let her climb up and participate. I did not let her dispense the shaving cream, because it actually requires a bit of finesse to do it right, and it was a hail storm of anger last time I let her try. I did let her squeeze the liquid watercolors. Until her impulse control got the best of her and then she was banned. We had a good three minutes in there.
After we got them in the bath, they were legitimately excited. It was cute. And they had a lot of fun. In between begging Eli not to eat it, and trying to convince Edie to just, please, take our word for it that she would regret getting shaving cream in her eye. The bath water actually got monumentally gross looking pretty fast. But they didn’t seem to mind. So we let them play in their grey bath for sometime. And when everyone had a meltdown about their paint running out, I dumped all the dishes on them to change the conversation. Win-win.
“I can eat it, the bath paints?”
After I had my little Cinderellas scrub the tub, I was relieved to see that the liquid watercolors did not stain the children or the grout. I should’ve really confirmed this beforehand.
And now my pretties are sleeping, and I am on my fourth cup of tea due to what I am sure is the common cold, and definitely not Ebola.