Thursday, January 19, 2017

Messiness

My children are the messiest eaters on the face of the planet. You might think yours are the messiest eaters, but you're wrong. Because mine claim that title.

I spend a good chunk of my time wiping down table tops, sweeping food off the floor, bathing children smeared head-to-toe in dinner (and so forth). And I know that mothers are supposed to be the pinnacle of patience—don't cry over spilled milk!—but sometimes the continual mess gets to me so when the fiftieth blueberry falls off their fork, bounces off their plate, skips across the table, and rolls across the floor, and the culprit smiles at me and shrugs their shoulders I growl, "You'd better go find that," instead of sweetly reminding my child to look after themselves. Because if I find one more forgotten (and smashed) blueberry (or anything else, for that matter) I'm going to lose my mind.

We must not cry over spilled milk, true. But how many times must we not cry over spilled milk? Until the seventy and seventh time? Say it ain't so.

This morning Zoë put her elbow in her cereal bowl before I'd even given her any milk (thank goodness) and dry cereal went flying across the table.

"Just sit and eat your breakfast," I reminded the kids as I scooped up the spilled cereal. "Eat and then play. Do not play and eat."


Zoë likes to sit on the bench like a big kid, which is fine except she hasn't learned how to sit still yet. I prefer her to be strapped into her booster seat (we just got rid of her high chair because she was so opposed to sitting in it that it would take three of us to wrangle her inside and then she'd sit there screaming her head off until we let her out again) but sometimes when it's just me and Benjamin and Zoë I let her practice sitting, unshackled, at the table (usually for breakfast).

I realize this is just asking for trouble (but she has to learn somehow, sometime).

She scoots up and down the bench, helping herself to Benjamin's food, instigating tickle fights, knocking over this and that, upsetting cups of water. It's ridiculous. But better than having her sit in her chair and scream because she wants to eat breakfast by Benjamin.

Some mornings are better than others. This morning was a particularly spill-filled adventure and I lost my patience with one of the final spills. Zoë had snuggled too close to Benjamin, he shoved her aside, she flipped her whole bowl of cereal which went spinning through the air, spraying the contents all over the room, before landing on the floor.

"YOU GUYS!" I started lecturing. "WHY?! Why can't you just sit still!? I can't handle any more of this this morning! You have to just sit still and eat your breakfast and then get down to play. Why is that so difficult? I am so sick of cleaning up food from the floor. I was just down here cleaning up your last spill and now here I am, once again, cleaning up more mess..."

Zoë doesn't like to be "in trouble." She hates when I raise my voice. Whenever she thinks she's done something bad—or if someone makes her feel sad—she will go stand in the corner to have a good cry (which is funny because she's never actually been sent to the corner (though she's observed her brother stand in the corner a number of times)) before coming to get a hug. Today, though, the corner was too far so she slumped over on the bench, rested her cheek against the cold, hard wood, and cried and cried and cried.

"Oh, Zoë," I rolled my eyes as I continued to wipe up milk from the floor (because I'm the only one allowed to have a meltdown over spilled cereal (she gets to cry all the time, anyway)). "Stop that noise. You're just fine. I'm the one doing all the work. I'll get you more cereal in a minute."

I walked over to the sink to rinse out my cloth and glanced at the kids over my shoulder while I did so because Zoë had suddenly stopped screaming.

She was still resting her cheek on the bench, her little behind snuggled into Benjamin's side. He was calmly eating his cereal with one hand and gently patting her back with the other hand. My hard, angry heart melted into a puddle of liquid love in a snap.

"You're my sweetest boy," I said to Benjamin.

"I know," he said.

"Thanks for helping your sister feel better. That helps me feel better, too."

And I managed to finish cleaning up that big spill without muttering anything else under my breath. 

2 comments:

  1. This was why we started serving only water with meals. Much easier to clean up. Sorry about all the messes. I won't tell you that someday you will miss them, because I don't think that is true. You will miss the mess-makers, but NOT the messes!

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  2. Oh my gosh. One of my least favorite thing about children - feeding them. I will NOT miss that!!

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