Wednesday, September 7, 2016
One of my favorite parenting decisions I made was not have a television in our home. We are not completely deprived, we get Friday night movie night, with a projector and sheet and Saturday morning cartoons via a laptop and Netflix, we do indulge but it is a big production when we do. Our home is filled with the chatter of little imaginations, everything becomes a character, we are transported to other magical worlds, filled with mermaids, fairies and all of the babies.
It’s hard to fight over the television when you don’t have one and anymore nobody even asks for it. It’s one of those decisions I am not overly protective of but to me no television equals peace. My friend, Jordan, asked one day, “if you don’t have a TV what does your furniture look at?” My response, “my couches face each other for optimal socialization.”
The things they come up with are incredible, objects transformed and worlds created around them. Recently at family dinner a spoon became a princess and a crystal candy dish a beautiful woman in a dress, there is a flip side to this imagination, I learned this summer.
We had spent the afternoon at my parents, like always the kids were upstairs playing in the toy room. We were there several hours and said our goodbyes and headed home, me no idea of the imagination that had taken place in the toy room that day. Days later we happened to be at my parents again, I had gone upstairs to borrow something, upon opening the sliding closet door, the smell of putrid decay invaded my nostrils. I immediately coughed, gasped and covered my nose, wondering what the source of that smell was. I began investigating, exploring for the source of the smell there it was, a small dark blue trash can. Inside appeared to be wads of wet toilet paper, rightfully so, 90% of parenting is asking why are things wet?
My parents have two little hedgehogs, I assumed was it was a misplaced can of hedgehog waste. I quickly grabbed it and took it outside, briefly mentioning to my mom in passing what I had found. The puzzled look on her face clued me in that she had no idea what I was talking about. I told her of my discovering and both of us, directed our attention to my three lovely children. So sweet, surely this is not something they did, as any parent does, I briefly and calmly ask some leading questions, tactically trying to prevent the lies. Open question about what games they had been playing a few days before, slightly more direct about what they did in the garbage can, to a full out discussion about the effects of human waste on the body, with an emphasis on waste
So now ever so curious, how this played out, I began to ask what kind of adventure they were on. The answers, explanations and questions came flooding in, here is the filtered answer for you, “we were camping, we all needed to use the bathroom and it was the only place to go.” My ever calm response, “no, the bathroom, the bathroom that is your ONLY place to go.”
I discovered after much detail that lying beneath the damp toilet paper was a ecosystem of disgust, things I would not want to see or touch. So as any sensible parent would, I suggested, since they so nicely took turns filling the trash can with waste, they can now take turns cleaning it out. It took lots of soap, bleach, time, gagging, and declarations of “we are never doing that again.” The result a semi clean toilet can and a new found appreciation for indoor plumbing.
This story, I consider to be one of the moments where I earned a parenting badge, trial by fire, a badge of survival. It also reveals to me, one of my greatest needs as a parent, is to laugh more at the things my kids do. I am not a serious person, I actually love jokes, pranks and scream laughing out loud. Somewhere in the chaos of parenting, I got serious and things got heavy. So much of my joy in parenting is missed in taking things so seriously, my friend who laughs often at his kids showed me that. I am slowly down, being silly and laughing with my kids more and I can say, my heart is lighter and my kids are happier and have incredible imaginations.