On the Light Side: I miss those confounded kids already

June 20, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Is there a mother out there who thinks complete thoughts? I sure would like to meet her. Ever since my household went from by-my-lonesome to packed-with-half-pints, every thought that enters my brain is interrupted by, "LIZ!" or "MOM!" or "THAT CAT BITES." or "I NEED SOMEONE TO WIPE MY BUTT."

My aunt, Carolyn Abell, and four cute cousins, 10, 8, 3 and toddler, camped out at my house for a week. They came from Slidell, La., to vacation in Danville.

Everyone thought I wouldn't survive, but I didn't think they would survive a week with me.

They are troopers to put up with my silly songs and laughing fits. I made them unplug their bodies from the Nintendo and dragged them to the Brass Band Festival in the rain. Good thing they are resilient.

I have learned a few things about the world of parenting. It makes me think that my parents, who raised six of us, are saints. How they put up with 32 years of child-rearing is beyond me. There ought to be a medal for such things, or at least a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for a luxurious vacation to some small European town where only mute hermits live.


Here are some of my other conclusions:

* You can't tire out kids. No matter how hard you try, they will always have more go-go than you. I raced them. I talked them to death. I brought them here and there and everywhere. We rolled down hills. We played freeze tag. Guess who was tuckered out? Me.

* They don't make sense - ever. The 3-year-old, who we call "Chew," had a splinter in her second toe the size of a thumbtack. When she figured out that I wanted to take it out she tried to hide it by putting her sock back on. When she saw me bring out the needle she wanted to run.

We held her down on the couch, while Carolyn and I dug it out. She screamed, cringed and cried the entire time. Finally, we pushed it out. Was she relieved? No. Did she want my last bit of Chunky Monkey ice cream? No. She wanted to put the splinter back in. She tried to rub her foot over the hardwood floors to get another splinter in her toe. Carolyn said she did the same thing at the doctor's office after they plucked a bead from her nostril.

* All mothers should be allowed to walk around with greasy hair and furry legs. In the past week I have only gotten to wash my hair every other day. I usually bathe once or twice a day. In total, I had three baths in six days. Even when I did get in the tub, I had company.

On the first day I asked Chew if she could give me some privacy. She said, "What's that?" Then she pointed to a seashell by the sink, "Is this privacy?" she said and then offered it to me.

* It's OK to force kids to pee even at nasty, stinky port-a-potties where there is nowhere to wash their hands. We were eating at a restaurant in Louisville. Before we left, only Chew went to the bathroom - twice. I think it had something to do with the foamy suds in the soap dispensers.

We had planned to walk along the Ohio River. It turned into a frantic search for a place to pee. Now I understand why those girls in The Liar's Club had to take an empty coffee can with them everywhere to pee into.

Finally we got to the car and stopped at White Castle for the bathroom. It was such a production then that only two of them got down to pee. So, when we got to the Extreme Skatepark I made everyone use the stinky port-a-potties. Even though there certainly weren't any foamy suds, much less running water.

* You can't separate a girl and her Gameboy. The 8-year-old, Alex, came with us to the Brass Band parade and sat on the curb playing Pokemon. There were clowns, cars, bands, Elvis. Well, it might have had something to do with the nature of the parade. You see...

* You can take the girls away from Mardi Gras, but you can't take the Mardi Gras out of the girls. Being from Louisiana, they were none too impressed with a parade where no one threw candy or beads. There was one float with guys occasionally tossing strings of beads. Alex suddenly broke away from the Gameboy and started flailing her arms, along with her sister, Marie. When the guy tossed one to them they let it hit the ground and then put their feet on it. This is the method taught to Louisiana children, so that they can avoid a tug-of-war with other children along the parade route. Of course, in Danville the other kids just stared at them because they weren't aware that they were supposed to risk their lives for plastic beads. Poo-yi!

* Anything is funny. I've always thought that I had an odd sense of humor. Nah. I just relate to kids. Just the fact that you can make a joke out of anything nonsensical, and they will laugh really hard, makes me laugh really hard.

Chew and I played this game I invented over and over and over. It's called, "What can go in dare?" You just name things that might go in a purse. "Keys can go in dare. Money can go in dare. A fishing lure can go in dare. A elephant can go in dare. A elephant hooked on a fishing lure can go in dare. An elephant key can go in dare."

The Abells packed up Tuesday and headed back for Louisiana. I miss them already. Sure, they were a lot of commotion and I am pooped, but they were a lot of fun. With all those kids around there is always someone to play with or irritate or love. Plus, my cat isn't nearly as impressed with my sing-song, "An elephant-cat key can go in dare."

Liz Maples is a staff writer for The Advocate.

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