Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Cleaning

"In this spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt"
                                   ~Margaret Atwood (and my husband)

I remember growing up, we would play outside  Our bicycles and rollerblades tracked more miles in a week than I drive in a month.  We spent hours upon hours in the sandbox out back.  My fingers were permanently stained with the rainbow colors of my Crayola box of sidewalk chalk.  The bottoms of my feet were a shade one can really only describe as 'asphalt', and were about as rough as the surface of the same name.  The evenings were spent at our neighbor's house, playing 'the Chip game' (hours of entertainment made possible by one of the plastic chips from my dad's local watering hole good for one free beer--psshhht, kids these days don't know how to 'play'!).  We'd really only be inside to address the basic needs: food, bathroom, shower, and sleep.

Randy was born in CA, but moved at a young age and essentially 'grew up' in a rural area of western PA, so despite the fact that I've described these things to him, he thinks that his experiences as a kid were a little higher up on the 'good ole' days' scale (is there even a scale for that?).  I think he finds it hard to believe that the woman he married ever ran around in the woods, got dirt under her nails, had mud smeared on her face, and donned scrapes on her knees. 

I can't really blame him for doubting the truth behind my childhood memories.  It must be hard for him to imagine me being ok with dirt and sand--especially since those are two things that are my biggest nemisis now that I'm a mom (that, and crumbs, and handprints on the windows, and dust...).  Additionally, with me being 9 months pregnant, the nesting instinct takes over in odd spurts and in odd ways.  My current obsession is wanting to take all of the blinds in the house down, and powerwashing them all.  I chose this task over scrubbing the tile on my hands and knees because I know my back will hate me when I'm finished--if not sooner. 

If you ask him, my husband will tell you that I don't let our kids get dirty, and if they do, I wig out.  He's not entirely 'off'...however I'm working on the way I react to things, and so to say I 'wig out' isn't accurate.  I'll cringe, I'll make comments, I'll sigh...or as he might say complain.  It's not that I don't want the kids to have fun and be's just...obnoxious, we'll say, to see the kids (and their clothing) coated in a film of filth.  Because I know that filth will inevitably be tracked inside.  Inside the house, inside the tub, inside their bodies (since they can't keep their dirty fingers out of their mouths!).  The thought is making me feel all itchy as I sit here and type...

Today was a gorgeous day.  The sun was out, the breeze was minimal compared with yesterday's gale force wind gusts; it was an idyllic spring day.  The kids accompanied me to a cake consult for a wedding cake I'm making in June and on the way home, we stopped by DQ for a treat since they were well behaved (and, well, let's face it...I'm 9 months pregnant...I'm not going to turn down ice cream!).  When we got home, we found Randy out on the back deck, recooperating from the dental work he had done a few hours earlier.  Pleased with his ice cream surprise, he perked up and joined the kids and I as we snacked at the patio table.

Shortly after finishing their snack, the kids found it.  The sandbox.  It's not really hard to miss...Randy built an 8' by 8' for the kids, requiring slightly less than a ton of sand.  Literally.  A ton.  A quarter of which I swear has found its way into the house during the time we've been so *blessed* as to have our own personal beach in the backyard.  The kids were determined to increase that amount today, as they lovingly dumped sand on top of each others' heads, down each others' shirts, and (unfortunately) down each others' pants.  Let's just say it was hard for me to maintain my calm.  Poor Brynn had more sand in her hair than she has hair on her head.  As a result, my specific instructions were to not enter the house until they were ready for bath time (yikes...another 'mom' phrase I never thought I'd say!).

The day went on, and the kids stayed outside (fearful of the boredom that would ensue when they came inside and realized I wouldn't allow them to play video games or watch tv), and the dirt?  Well...the dirt continued to collect.  Faces, fingers, feet...all caked in filth.  The white shirt Brynn was wearing started taking on a gray hue, while her nose was pink and yellow from chalk, and the bottoms of her feet were somewhere past 'asphalt' to a shade that is more accurately described as 'midnight black'.  Gavin's hands were rough, dry, and caked in dirt.  His jeans were no longer anything other than disgusting.  He had sand in his hair and his ears, he had spilled a bubble gum flavored slushie my friend had brought him all over himself.  There was brown grass stuck to his clothes and the kids 'lovies', revealing to me that they apparently snuck inside at some point to bring them out into a world of filth (they are currently in the wash awaiting the spin cycle--the lovies, not the kids!). 

As the sun was setting over the Rockies, the temps began to dip slightly, and the kids found their way inside for dinner.  The first stop was a brush-down at the door, a valiant effort at eliminating the outer 'coating' of sand and dirt that had accumulated on my darling children.  We then used about a dozen pumps of hand soap to scrub hands, fingernails, wrists, and lower arms so that we could eat dinner.  Again, I cringed as I watched their black feet pad across the floor I had mopped just a few hours earlier toward the dinner table. 

Before Randy was finished cleaning up the drop cloth, paint, and other devices he used to work on his bike today out in the garage, the kids were 'stewing' in a warm and exceptionally bubbly bubble bath with a thick coating of suds on top of their heads, shoulders, and knees.  When he came upstairs, he laughed and remarked, 'Mommy couldn't wait long enough, huh?' as he observed my OCD self scrubbing our children back to *normal*. 

I know.  I know kids are supposed to be kids.  There's even a saying that goes: 'Boy: a noise with dirt on it'.  But I know I was justified in my overwheming urge to soak my children in the tub for hours when even their dad said, 'it smells like dirty, wet kids up here...wheeew!'.

I know I sound like I don't let the kids play outside and get dirty...I do.  It just is one of those parts of mommyhood that I'm learning to accept as 'normal'.  I'm needing to remind myself of my own childhood, or Randy's childhood (because, as he points out often, there's nothing better than growing up in the country).  I need to keep my *annoyances* at bay, and realize that Randy is right.  Yes, hun, I said it.  You're right.  There's water, there's soap, and they can get clean.  They're kids.  They have one childhood, and why not let them enjoy the time when it's perfectly acceptable to dump sand on your head, run barefoot through a backyard that I can guarantee has dog poo scattered about, and lick your fingers that have been caked with chalk and general filth.  I guess it means I just have to buy Johnson's and Johnson's in bulk, stock up on the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and breathe.  There's water, there's soap, and they'll get clean.

Happy Spring!

soccer is far better when you're playing it in the garden

a boy covered in dirt.  and the world is good.

he's attempting to look clean

barefoot, sticky, chalk covered, filthy, dishelved hair...what happened to my little 'princess'?

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