An Uplifting Memory

You know, I have no idea how or when it happened, but at some point in the last few years I crested out of the “herd of very tiny kids” phase. I was very definitely in it for years – and as I look at Liz right now, I very clearly and vividly remember being in the thick of that phase. But somehow I’m not in it anymore. The moments of coming up the stairs to find the entire second floor under a heavy dusting of baby powder, or coming downstairs to find the sofa slicked down with hand lotion and cinnamon have drifted into the past. In fact, at this very moment I have told the kids they need to pick up – and, wonder of wonders, they’re actually doing it!

Seven years ago, almost to this very day, I was enormously pregnant with baby number four. And I had a one-year old, a two-year old, and a four-year old (each with more than his or her legal share of ingenuity) who spent all their free moments teaming up and egging each other on to commit evil deeds.

On one particular Friday in late December we had a Christmas party to attend, and Ben was giving finals until about 6:30. So I got the three kids all decked out in their new Christmas dresses and ties and so forth, made the hors d’oeuvres to take, and got myself ready to head out as soon as Daddy showed up. No doubt I had had to launch that project at about 1:45 in the afternoon, because I was so hugely pregnant that I couldn’t bend over, and getting three small children looking presentable and everyone in clean diapers all at the same time is a radically time consuming job.

But I did it. I got it done. And Ben still wasn’t home yet. So I lay down on the couch to wait, which, as I’m sure all you mothers can tell from a mile away, was the dumbest idea I could have possibly come up with. Because as everyone knows, at eight months pregnant with baby number four, you cannot lie down upon the couch and expect to remain conscious for longer than 12 seconds. I didn’t even remotely intend to fall asleep, but you know how it goes.

I couldn’t have been out for longer than maybe six minutes . . . but of course six minutes is far more than enough time for three toddlers to raze the house to the ground and sow salt upon the foundations. I was awakened by the sound of the Christmas tree. Yes, I realize that Christmas trees don’t usually wake people up, but ours was rattling. I popped up and swiveled around to look at it. It was swaying back and forth in an ominous manner, and the ornaments were clinking around.

After ruling out an earthquake, I lumbered across the room and peered behind the tree. There were all three of my offspring, crouched in the corner behind the tree . . . and the one-year old was unrecognizable, being covered head to toe with some sort of white substance. I drug them out, and they all stared up at me with that look on their faces. You know the look. They were trying to look suitably shocked at this terrible occurrence, and their fat little faces were all as guilty as the day is long.

Upon further inspection, the white stuff turned out to be powdered sugar. The two elder children had completely sugared their little sister, getting most of it worked nicely into her hair that I had just washed and curled. But her entire outfit was also sugared . . . she was a sort of walking powdered doughnut. And better yet, they had also dusted down the kitchen, several throw pillows, and then filled the dishwasher soap dispenser with the remainder.

As I was discovering the kitchen floor, Ben walked in. The poor man was greeted by a wife who was not yet seeing the humor of the moment, a completely sticky white kitchen, and a dry bathtub containing three dressily-clad children who were awaiting justice with that solemn look still on their faces. Number three was entirely white – but the older two were definitely not unscathed by their endeavors. They didn’t actually have cups of the stuff in their hair, but that was about all you could say for them.

I don’t quite remember why they were in the bathtub – I think I stuck them in there so they would stop tracking it everywhere while I steamed around and tried to get my attitude right before I went in to handle it. Ben of course was deluxe. He rolled up his sleeves and bathed everyone while I scrubbed the kitchen floor (which was sticky for days) and we all still actually made it to the party . . . the kids with wet hair, and wearing their pajamas.

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19 thoughts on “An Uplifting Memory

  1. My life was like that once too. Wasn’t it really sweet!

    But then, my kids are cleaning the house now, and that’s not too shabby either.

    It’s all good!

  2. What a great story… last week I asked my 4 year old to keep the 2 year old out of trouble for a few minutes – my mistake – then came downstairs to the news that she (the 2 year old) had pulled down the tree! :) (I could laugh almost immediately although the older kids were sobbing – no injuries.) Thanks for the laugh!

  3. well, we are in the thick of it! we have a 3 year old, a 16 month old and i’m pregnant with the next one due in June. baby powder, lotion and many other things have been spread around! It is so nice to read of those who have made it through and live to tell about it!! :)

  4. Ha! That takes me back, as well. Our oldest is nigh to 12, but 8 years ago we were in a similar situation. I recall a Saturday morning when we failed to hear the thumping of little feet, heading down the stairs. I woke to the smell of cinnamon, imagining my husband cooking up a batch of something delicious to surprise me in bed — still managably pregnant, but nearly bulky. When a yawn and a stretch nailed him in the head with my elbow, I managed a lively spring out of bed. You already know the end of the story, as you would with any story involving spice jars and unattended toddlers. Ten vacuum jobs later, we were still getting a heady smell of cinnamon and curry powder from the carpet and couches. I knew that I would laugh someday. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I remember a morning involving a dripping ceiling fan in the kitchen, plastic dixie cups and an upstairs potty…and the moral of the story was that plastic dixie cups do not flush.

    Thanks for the giggles.
    Kathleen

  6. Thanks for sharing this! We have a 20 month old boy and a 8 month old girl, and things get very exciting sometimes.

    Just last Sunday, I looked into the back seat to discover to my utter horror that the toddler had been able to reach the stick of butter intended for the potatoes for potluck. While daddy and I were deep in conversation, he had unwrapped it, eaten part of it, and spread it liberally over his jacket, pants, and carseat.

    Thankfully, I did have a spare pair of dress pants for him, and we took his jacket off before he went into church. It made the fact that we made it to church with only one of his shoes fade into insignificance, and all in all I was just relieved it hadn’t been worst.

    After all, he could’ve shared it with the baby!

  7. Oh! Thanks so much for sharing this! Hubby and I had a good laugh, and boy, do we need all the laughs we can get! We are STILL in the thick of it…we have 6 children (over an 8 year spread), the two youngest having just turned 3 and 4 1/2. It is always refreshing to hear that we are in good company with other families who could fill books with toddler fiascos! :-)

    A very Merry Christmas to all of you!

  8. I have to tell you that sometimes your stories remind me of some of my own. A year ago, roughly today, I was hauling six kids through Heathrow, when my almost 2yo, in line at security, dumped a large handful of coins into her footy pajamas just as we reached the belts, agents and security gate.
    Gravity did its work and money was hidden in feet and diaper and it all had to be removed.
    As I stripped her down to her skin under the gaze of un-amused gawkers from all nations, I looked up and saw a uniformed agent taking my camera bag apart. I carried my naked toddler across the room to him and asked if there was a problem. He calmly and in monotone informed me that he had seen a knife on the Xray, and must now track it down.
    Sure enough, a Henkle fruit knife, which I will never see again, was produced and secured.
    But I thought of you, as we ran full speed toward our gate while we re-dressed my little darling.
    What a wonderful and interesting life!

  9. At 2 years old, our twin boys had a fascination with eggs. The morning we were supposed to leave on holidays, they crept over their sleeping auntie, found a dozen eggs in the fridge and cracked the lot onto the floor of the only carpeted room in the house. Then must have come an attack of conscience because, by the time we’d woken up, they were busily trying to clean up by scrambling the lot with a mop and broom. They’ve just turned 13 and their 4 younger siblings wish they had as many ‘stories’…

  10. Oh, my. That reminded me of when my then 2-year-old basted the 1-year-old with Vaseline (wielding a tea set teaspoon) the day before Thanksgiving. Every square cm of that child was grease. I had to throw the clothes away and her hair didn’t come clean for days. My then 7, 8 and 9 year olds were nowhere to be seen. When I called my husband to tell him of the disaster, he laughed and said the 2-year-old was just trying to help out by basting the turkey. Men definitely have a different–and helpful–perspective. I now wish I’d taken a picture but at that moment I was too upset.

  11. I love it! I can’t wait until the Lord blesses me with these types of stories – and hopefully the humor in them. :)

  12. Reminds me of what happened to my aunt. She was lying sick in bed and was surprised when her sweet little toddler brought her a cup full of water. My aunt noticed that the water had a funny taste. Then suddenly she realized that the child had no way to reach the sink; she had filled the cup from the toilet. (Moral: Beware of lying down and closing your eyes with toddlers in the house, unless they are all asleep!)

  13. I just gave birth to number four Saturday :o) My 5, 3 and 2 year old give me lots of fun moments as well!

  14. It is stories, just like this, that reminds me that it really is funny. Every messy childhood story is bagging for laughter, if I can just handle being the butt of the joke, or maybe more appropriately put the maid in the joke. : )
    Thanks for your story, I love to hear them!
    Merry Christmas Bekah!

  15. Thanks for the story. With our 5, now 11 years old to 6 months, I usually do not see the humor. If my dear wife is upset, it will help me to see and remain calm. However, more often than not, I am most concerned with the imposition and demand on my time created by my children’s deeds.

    Through blogs like yours and books like Notes from the Tilt a Whirl, I am beginning to see the laughter and hope that God helps me more to serve and laugh.

    Thanks for the story.

  16. Oh my, did this ever make me laugh! For awhile I had a newly minted three year old, not-quite-two year old, and a newborn. Reading this brought back a few memories of the chaos. It’s funny to me now, but at the time…..

  17. This made me laugh so hard!! I love the scene you drew out!! And I love that you called your husband delux!

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