Woop! Woop! Excitement is high this week.
“Where are you going for Spring Break?” Another Mom asked me. I knew she was going to Florida, taking her kiddos to Disneyworld. And I am sure, knowing this mom, that her vacation was planned to the detail, and the whole week would be thoroughly enjoyed by the polite and happy Someone Else’s Kids.
And I was not jealous. Really. Of course I would love to take kids to Florida for Spring Break, but it would have to be Someone Else’s Kids.
Definitely not mine.
“So what are you doing for Spring Break?” she asked again, jolting me from my reverie.
“I am staying home and breathing!” I smile. This is the truth. And I will enjoy this.
Because staying at home with nine people and pets and friends and drop ins is going to take a lot of calculated deep breathing. I may hide in a closet, too. That will be the only quiet place, I am certain.
On Monday of Spring Break, I bought six pairs of tall rubber boots and six sets of watercolor paints. The kids and their pals are going to have a magnificent week of stomping in puddles and watercolor painting. I am sure it will be a great week. I scrub all floors, and am certain that the white tile will remain clean for many days, with those wonderful boots keeping the mud outside. I am so pleased. I will probably get to think and write and paint, while they are so busy and happy.
On Tuesday of Spring Break, I admired the copious spread of landscape paintings in the quiet of my kitchen. They seem to have gone through half a ream of paper. It was still early when I discovered that the “quiet” kids had created a huge mudslide in the back yard, which they were sailing down, standing up, like barefoot water skiers. There was still no mud in my home, but the backyard looks like Southern Californian mudslides. They are banished from the backyard. After lunch, Little Guy had set up a winter sled in the widest puddle, a small lake, really.
“Watch me, Mom!”
He took a running leap, soared in the air, landed with a thump on the sled. The sled galumphed and sloshed, propelled forward, while Little Guy flopped backward, sitting down right into aforementioned mud lake. While he was inside, getting clean, dry clothes, two little girls came squishing in. It seems the depth of their puddle exceeded the height of their boots, and their little toes were swimming in muddy ice water. And one had fallen in, and scraped her hand on an icy stick. There was blood in the mud.
My gosh. I have flashbacks back to my first son, who made mud pies in the rain with a cut on his foot. It was a teeny tiny cut, but he chose to make mud pies in a corner where the dog had gone to the, um, baño. Yes, indeed. That ended with a few days’ stay in Children’s Hospital with a staph infection. With visions, no, nightmares of the blue line of infection that ran up that child’s leg, I gasped and hauled today’s kid right into the sink, and slathered her with soapy water. Antibacterial ointment and bandages followed. Before I even wiped up the mud from their socks and feet, Another Boy came slumping in the bathroom, pale faced and ghostly. White lips. Bloody knuckles. His freckles stood out on his nose and cheeks like dark sentinels of approaching doom. What happened?!
“I - I - I slammed my fingers in the dooooooor!” He sat down on the white tile floor in his very muddy jeans and very muddy socks and held up his very muddy and bleeding knuckles. I think he was going into shock.
“Into the sink!” I shouted. “Hey, You in the Sink, move over!” I saw another vision of blue lines of infection slinking up this kid’s veins, and pull out the antibacterial soap and antibacterial ointment and bandages again.
There are now four muddy kids on the white tile. They are adorned with muddy socks, muddy jeans, muddy shirts, muddy lips and muddy hair. Even though some of them are bandaged up, they are all magnificently happy. I am shown the muddy sinkhole of their creation. The five foot wide hole of what they call “Sopa di Baño” that is now in the ground where there used to be grass. They are proud as punch of all the mud pies lined up on the front porch.
I make them change clothes, and start the laundry. And they are all banished to the kitchen table to paint.
By Wednesday of Spring Break, the mud is disappearing, mostly dried up in the yard. But I am noticing a trend in the paintings. One kid has taken blue painter’s tape, and their creations now decorate his bedroom wall.
“Look, Mom! A cyclops! And Medusa! and this guy’s a troll. Every time someone hits him with an axe, smaller trolls break off him and see? They’re everywhere.”
Indeed. Even the Kraken’s tentacles are climbing on his wall, right next to the Hydra with the four heads.
Pinterest would be appalled. I am reminded of the cute boys’ bedrooms posted on Pinterest, a website that brings together decorating ideas and moms with free time. Pinterest shows me bedrooms for boys: happy tree houses painted on walls, red, white and blue ships and boats and plaid and dolphins… On Pinterest, everyone has clean tile floors, and there is no mud.
On Pinterest, there is no Kraken slithering up a child’s wall.
By Wednesday of Spring Break, I told them it was video game day.
I am hiding in the closet.
And I am eating chocolate while sitting on the very clean closet floor. I think that I realize, for the first time, that a mud puddle to a quiet, thoughtful artist mom is a very different thing that a mud puddle to a group of loud, adventuresome, energetic kids.
I also think the closet is really nice this time of year.
Let me know when Spring Break is over.