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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Monday, March 06, 2006


Don't throw mud at your brother! Chi chi moo moo?

In which I attempt to let my children be spontaneous while I try and be okay with it even though I really am not...

I belong to a playgroup that meets every Monday morning at one of our many local playgrounds. Because it's been raining here and the playgrounds are all wet, today I volunteered my house as an alternative meeting place.

Not many moms are brave enough to open their homes to these dirty creatures known as children, but I don't mind. I use hosting playgroup as an excuse to run around making clean. Hate me now; I'm one of those moms. You know -- one of those moms who has a clean house. If it makes you feel better, please know that I have complete control freak issues and that's why my house is clean. Really, I'm to be pitied. There's no doubt my kids will go to therapy and wallow in filth when they're adults.

After an enjoyable morning spent chatting with a mom friend about the book I'm reading (Perfect Madness: Mothering in the Age of Anxiety), why family vacations to the snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe can make a grown man cry, why living in San Mateo can make a grown woman cry, and the problems with the No Child Left Behind Act, Emily, Thomas, and I say goodbye to our playgroup friends. I have visions of an early lunch and an early naptime for my two little pumpkins.

Unfortunately, my two little pumpkins have other plans and other visions and beg to go outside. I figure I will let them play IN THE FRONT PAVED COURTYARD ONLY while I fold a load of laundry and make some (what else?) macaroni and cheese. I let them out the door with the admonishment, "Do not go around to the side of the house. Do you understand me?" Apparently they thought I was saying,"Gobble gobble boggle doogie do snay. Chi chi moo moo?"

Two minutes into folding laundry I peek outside and see my two kids playing on the side of the house and splashing in a puddle of water. Okay, I tell myself, I can handle changing shoes and pants. No big deal. I take a big deep breath and continue folding miniature clothes: shirts, pants, sleeper pajamas. I loose myself in the aromatherapy of Downy dryer sheets and pretend I work at Baby Gap.

Two more minutes pass and I peek outside to make sure one of them hasn't face planted in the puddle of water. I see that they now have sticks and are poking them into the planting bed that lines the perimeter of the yard. The planting bed that one day will be home to beautiful flowering trees and shrubs but that now is home to dirt and worms. It's okay, I tell myself. I am okay with them studying nature up close and personal. Isn't that what childhood is all about? I take a big deep breath and continue folding clothes. This time I pretend I work at the DKNY outlet store.

Two more minutes pass and I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up; something is terribly wrong. My mother sense kicks in, and I look out the window in time to see Emily throwing mud pies at Thomas, who is laughing. He has mud all over his hair and face and a big clump of mud and grass sticking out of the back of his shirt. I imagine it doesn't feel too good, but since he's laughing, I can't be sure. I rap on the glass and shout, "Stop throwing mud at your brother!" which I'm sure came out as, "Bleek blook boing dee dook!"

I realize at that moment that I am no longer relaxed or okay with the idea that my two kids are having a grand old time playing in mud. All of a sudden I am not okay with the thought of cleaning mud off of my children, their clothes, my floors, and my rugs. Argh! I feel my tension and anger rising fast, but I try and quell it.

I think fast. What would a fun loving, cool, rational mom do? Acting on something I read in a magazine once, I draw a hot bath with plenty of bubbles. I change my pre-nap plan to include a long bath. I am determined not to let this little muddy upset ruin an otherwise perfectly sane day.

I strip both kids at the door and plop them in the tub. While they enjoy a surprise bath and have a great time getting water all over the floor of the bathroom and spitting at each other, I shake off the excess mud and rinse all of the soiled clothing in the kitchen sink. Even though I'm trying not to let it get to me, I'm upset that my kids' fun in the mud has now resulted in the cold hard reality of my life as their caretaker. I am; therefore I clean.

As I continue to clean, I continue to contemplate my consternation. I am conflicted between what I think a nice or a good mom would allow (the dream mom in my imagination) and what I do allow. I know that my hating of chores done ad infinitum is what keeps me from being (what I see as) a good mom. The reality is that I have a clean house yet I hate to clean. Maybe I'm the one who needs therapy.

My daydreaming is interrupted by a shriek from Thomas. I don't know what caused it but I'm sure it has something to do with his sister, a coveted bath toy, and the dreaded idea of sharing. At any rate, I decide it's time for this afternoon mud and bath interlude to be over and life to resume as though mud play never happened. I contemplate the hour I just spent doing an entirely unnecessary round of chores and heave a large sigh. The wine bottle beckons from the counter, but I ignore it although I do speed up the lunchtime ritual and manage to plop Thomas in his crib a half hour before the appointed nap time. I need a break and a hot bath of my own. I need to calm down and accept that I am a mother to two little pumpkins who don't understand right from wrong and who depend on me to do the work while they do the dirty.

Chi chi moo moo?

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