Ugh. So I'm writing this blog, because everyone thinks this is so funny. I would think it was funny too if it weren't my kids. Funny how that works like that.
This past week has been spent working on the ULTIMATE video to win a trip to Atlanta and see Sugarland. The video is supposed to reflect the song "Tonight" and show Sugarland what our idea of a perfect night is. I decided to go the "picture storybook route" and capture funny, chaotic moments to help explain why the perfect night is simply just being with my husband. My father, who is putting the video together for me, suggested that I allow them to play in baby powder to get some good shots. I thought that was a good idea. A controlled mess. I could do that. I had some old left over flour, so I set the stage for the boys. I put approximately 2 cups worth of flour in front of them and encouraged them to play in it. They weren't quite sure what to do with it or how to play with it, so I showed them. "Put it on your head!" "Get some on your face!" "Make a mess! - Not too big of a mess....." This was the result:
I got some great shots for the video! This was going to be awesome!! As I threw the boys in the tub, I explicitly told them. "We don't EVER do this. This was a ONE time thing. Playing in the flour is a no-no." In the back of my mind I knew, though, that this is very hard to explain why it's ok today and not tomorrow. I was hoping they understood anyway. And it turns out, flour is a lot harder to clean than I thought. Baby powder would have been a much better idea. Getting the flour out of the boys hair was nearly impossible, as it continued to gum up and get pasty, the wetter it got. I NEVER wanted to do this again. I could not imagine having to do this "for real".
Well I got my opportunity to do it for real. The boys woke up before I did Sunday morning. Usually, if they wake up early, they will go to their playroom and play quietly and watch TV. A little after seven, I woke up and realized it was quiet. Yay! They're not fighting. I cheerfully got up to go get them some breakfast. You can not even begin to imagine the mess I walked into. The kitchen was COVERED. An entire bag of flour was EVERYWHERE. Matthew gleefully appeared, almost unrecognizable under all the flour. Eric quickly popped in, also covered in flour, to let me know that Matthew had gotten into the flour. He knew they were in trouble. I didn't know where to start. I walked into the playroom. It was covered too. All over the carpets, all over the floor, all of the toys. On the walls, on cabinets, IN cabinets....and I had to get it all cleaned up - plus get the boys washed up before John made it home and had a coronary. I went to survey the damage. It even made it into the living room. All over the couch, the rug....everything.
I told them to go the bathroom and get in the tub. I always put them in the tub myself, but Eric knew he was in so much trouble he got naked and turned the water on himself and jumped in. The water was freezing. I quickly swept up and vacuumed the playroom (where John would be entering) and then got started on the kitchen. Matthew was still wandering around, so I quickly stripped him and put him in the tub with Eric. He was not as fond of the cold water. I went back to try to clean . I silently prayed that John would be late coming home. He called while I was in the midst of cleaning. That was a good sign. Meant I should have almost 20 minutes to get the bulk of it up. I refused to answer the phone. Within minutes though, he was at the door. My heart sank. I was already feeling like an awful mother. I wasn't ready to handle the anger I just knew was coming. But who could blame him? I try to have the house in good shape for him when he comes home, and the flour being everywhere simply meant I had not been present with the children. I had failed at my job.
Although shocked at the mess, he quickly got to work helping clean the mess up. We swept up flour, we vacuumed up after that, I steam mopped after THAT, and then we got on our hands and knees and washed the floor AGAIN, and then we steam-mopped again. Still washing down counter tops and walls as we went. And of course, this all happened on a SUNDAY morning, when we were trying to get out for church. The boys were still sitting in the tub so John went to scrub them. I knew how hard it was to get the little bit of flour out of their hair the first time. I had no idea how it was going to come out this time. They had to suffer a serious scrub down like they have never received before. It is one they won't soon forget. But John got all the flour out of their hair.
We got the majority of the flour picked up out of all the rooms, and got the hall and kitchen cleaned as mentioned above. I found my camera in the process of cleaning up. looks like somebody was trying to take pics! At least I would be able to get a good laugh at the pics later. Then I remembered the memory card wasn't even in there. If they had tried to take pics, it had done no good. I put the camera down and kept cleaning. It wasn't until later, that John realized they had broken the camera. UGH.
So after receiving spankings, not receiving doughnuts, having their DVD player taken away, and sent to their rooms, they were sufficiently punished. We cleaned up what we could before it became imperative that I get ready to go to church. We were already late, but I still wanted to make it. Eric came out of the room and apologized for "touching the flour". I loved on the boys but let them know that what they did was wrong. John loved on them as well and played with them for a bit while helping them to get ready, while I got ready.
I was so touched at John's loving spirit that moment, that I couldn't help but cry. He really came through for me when I needed him most. The boys were rightly disciplined, but they knew they were loved too. And I felt forgiven for my mistakes. I thanked John and pulled myself together and got us to church. I knew it was unusual for us to be late, but the teachers seemed to recognize it had been a hard morning. I made it into service and sat down. As the relief of getting there came over me, so did the events of the morning and, once again, I couldn't help but cry. I tried SO hard not to because I knew we were coming up on the "Say hello to your neighbor!" part of service, but that morning had really been my last straw. Yes, it was stupid to be crying over "spilt flour", but the spilt flour came in addition to a week of having poop smeared on me, cleaning cereal out of the paper feed of my printer, applications, interviews, picture taking, video making, general housecleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, holding cranky kids, listening to whiny boys, curbing allergies...you name it. And I was so done. And all I wanted to do was sit and cry. I thank God for the sweet sweet women at church. One of my favorite people there was concerned. I told her I was fine, it had been a rough morning, but the tears just flowed harder. She hugged me and asked what happened. And I just felt so stupid as I said "nothing!", and then quickly explained about the flour. She asked, "But no one's hurt, right?" It made me smile. I know these tears were ridiculous. She told me about the time her daughter smeared Crisco everywhere. That's a tear-stopper! Thank GOODNESS the boys didn't get into anything like that. I can't even imagine. It's one thing to spend HOURS cleaning up flour dust, but at least I know how to do it. I would have no idea where to start cleaning up Crisco!
I feel like there ought to be a spiritual application here, somewhere, but I'm still just recovering from cleaning up (there's still more to do, by the way!) I imagine I'll be finding flour when we decide to move years from now. I spent a lot of time on my knees contemplating why people ever have kids in the first place. I am positive, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are born not only with a "God-shaped hole" but a "Child-shaped hole" as well. I remember wanting a child - so badly it hurt. I still couldn't tell you WHY I did. I just knew it was something I needed. I know there's some lessons I'm supposed to be learning here. I suppose I should go study "Sacred Parenting" some more!
I sure do love those kids all the same though. Those sweet, sweet little boys. No more "staged photos" though! Unless it involves cleaning of some sort......