Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A New Perspective

Things have been a little dry here at home.  Along with the first week of school came musical auditions and rehearsals for Joel, whose schedule becomes so dense and harried this time of year that he has been figuratively deployed to Solon for the next three months.  Every year I have to remind myself to focus on the kids and not get bogged down in the murkiness of Daddy's schedule.

But it does get tough.  Maintaining a routine while simultaneously keeping things fresh and interesting is a much bigger (and longer) battle than getting Cael to eat or getting Graham to poop on the potty.  Those things are important, but I have spent enough time with my sons to know that boredom is the gateway to naughtiness.

Last Friday, Cael and Graham were running-- arms spread wide open, through that gateway.  Cael ran with abandon, as if on the other side was an unholy train museum with free rides and fizzling fireboxes.  Graham seemed to resist the naughtiness gateway but was slowly being dragged along by his older and therefore influential big brother.

I could tell that something different needed to happen.  You see, along with the steady loyalty of a daily routine comes the monotony of an identical day-to-day schedule. We've built trains before.  We've played outside.  We have exhausted our patience and interest in the same old games and toys.  We needed to look at things from a new perspective.  

As I laid the boys down for their afternoon naps, I brainstormed some ideas to help the day pass.  At first I thought about having some sort of "Christmas in August" scene arranged for them, complete with a lit tree and stockings.  But as soon as that thought entered my head, I could imagine the crushing disappointment they would feel when they realized that Santa wasn't coming and there were no gifts to be had.  I mentally crossed that off of my list and turned to the next idea.

I thought God was sending me subliminal messages when my Pinterest page was plastered with images of do-it-yourself Play-Doh and Moon Dust and Silly Puddy and Gak.  What boys wouldn't enjoy helping Mommy make something and then getting dirty up to their elbows in their own handiwork?  I gathered the ingredients together until I realized that I would need enough baking soda to fuel 1,000 junior high Science Fair volcanoes.  Moving on.

I decided that I was thinking too big.  If I wanted a new perspective, I needed to look at things differently myself.  So I pulled the dining room chairs out of the way and covered three sides with blankets to make a large tent with enough room for my boys and me plus one tag-along to sit comfortably inside.  That is, if comfortable means having one's head cocked awkwardly to the side while one's core muscles cry out in opposition.  I was REALLY comfortable.

But they loved it.  We set up camp in our homemade tent, dragged in a storage bin's worth of toys to keep us company, and enjoyed a string cheese snack.  Rolling around on the carpet, I shuddered at the visible layer of crusted food and animal hair that had congregated on the rug and then rubbed off onto my sons' shirts.  Even Oscar got in on the action, pulling on the blankets with his feet and teeth and trying to disassemble our tent like a magician pulling a tablecloth out from under the dishes. 

Even Cael, my resident cynic, was having a blast.  He stashed all of his trains under the table and lauded our tent as the ultimate train station.

"Mommy, we're in the roundhouse.  And it's so cool.  But it's not round.  It's like a long box.  Kinda like a square, but a long and skinny square.  What's that called?"

"Can you remember?  It's a funny word."

"A wrecking ball!"

Close, dude.  But it's called a rectangle."

"That's what I said.  A wrecking ball."

"Great job, Cael."

Once I'd set down the camera, I laid down inside and the boys and I pretended to look up at the "stars".  I tried to explain constellations and then kicked myself when Cael thought that we were talking about starfish in the ocean.  Sometimes I get ahead of myself.

As we snuggled under the table, both boys put their heavy heads on my chest and we laid quietly together.  My mind was taken back to the days when they were small and could sleep on my chest as I kissed their soft heads.  But just as I was enjoying my daydream, a very real odor wafted into our imaginary campsite.

"Cael... is there something you needed to say?"

"No, Mommy."

"I think there is.  It's very smelly in here and I'm pretty sure it's your brand of stink.  What do you say?"

"I love you?"

"Nice try, but that's not what I was asking for."

Just as Cael was piecing together his argument, a tiny voice whispered from the other side of the tent.


I'm still not sure how such a tiny person produced such a potent and foul odor.  But I got my wish, and I saw the day from a new perspective, and my children from a different perspective as well.  He viewed the world from under the table, and I viewed him with new eyes as well. 

And a new nose, too.  The old one is no good now.


  1. Ahh Childhood....how better to make wonderful memories than to cuddle with siblings in a tent.

  2. There is no better way! As long as they can control their bodily functions... :)


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.