Monday, March 24, 2008

I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up...

This story comes to me from one of my favorite neighbors who, having spent decades raising her own children, now provides daycare out of her home for three adorable (and not to be trusted) toddlers. Consider this next piece from the files of “I Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up”, to be a lesson for us all.

Having raised four fabulous children of her own, Evelyn is not only a seasoned parent, but also a wonderful caregiver to three toddlers (two boys, one girl), from the ages of 15 months to 2 ½ years of age. However, even this self-proclaimed expert on all things children finds herself tested by her most recent charges on a regular basis.

Case in point: the morning began in its typical fashion, with the typical play, the typical snacks, and, of course, the typical tantrums. After one particularly frenzied fit by the youngest child (Vanessa, age 15 months), Evelyn brought her into the kitchen to help her regain control of her emotions, while the other two were instructed not to leave the playroom for any reason. She sat Vanessa, who had tried to open the fingerpaints with the purpose of painting all over the walls, in a chair with some juice, while she began to organize lunch. The other two troublemakers were left to their own devices for but a moment because, really, what could they possibly do in such a limited time and space? Quite a bit actually…

As Evelyn hurriedly put things in place, she took the hand of a now recovered Vanessa and returned to the nearby playroom. Though the total trip took less than five minutes, a suspicious silence caused her to pick up her pace, at which point she heard the middle child (Jackson, age 2) shout out, “Oh no! Poo poos! Poo Poos!”. Knowing that someone yelling about excrement could never be good, she braced herself as she turned into the room.

Immediately, she was met with the unmistakably acrid odor that Jackson had identified and a quick scan of the room verified his declarations. Samuel, the eldest, was standing in the middle of the room expressionless, guiltless, and “pantless”. Jackson, still shouting, was standing atop the toy box, pointing to a crumpled pile of clothes in the corner of the room that resembled Samuel’s missing pants, now bearing some familiar new stains. Evelyn allowed herself a soft moan, and then simply gathered up the remains and led Samuel to the bathroom to clean him off and reassure the little boy, who was still finding his way through the world of potty training. She was careful not to make Samuel feel bad, choosing her words carefully and letting him know that accidents happen.

As they returned to the playroom, Evelyn’s mind drifted to a day when things might get easier, when the time would pass with a greater calm, or speed. What she didn’t realize is that her troubles were not exactly over. She entered the room prepared to begin anew with her three underlings, when she was once again greeted with Jackson chanting, “Poo Poos! Poo Poos!”. Figuring that some of the excrement had made its way onto the floor when Samuel removed his pants, Evelyn responded,

“It’s okay, I’ll get it. Now, who can sing the clean up song with me while I do it?”

“I can!!”, Vanessa shouted as she raised her hands in triumph.

“Thank you, dear.” Evelyn smiled at the little girl’s enthusiasm, until that is, her eyes caught sight of the little waving hands. What was that? Could it be??

Yes, oh yes. It was. And, in her surprise, Evelyn could only muster the strength to whisper one, obvious word:


The walls were decorated in what was actually a pretty trendy color of late; but the medium was something you’d more likely find in a Brooklyn museum and not a staid, suburban home in Jersey.

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