I talk to myself. All the time. Out loud. I am sure it is a result of having at least one child with me basically every waking (and often sleeping) moment for the better part of a decade. Sometimes I hear myself and realize I’m not merely talking to myself…I’m talking to another person who isn’t even there. I am having a teaching moment with no student.
Me: “Now I’m going to buy the red peppers. I like the red peppers. Not because they are red, like my favorite apples, but because they are the sweetest of the peppers. Peppers also come in orange, yellow and green. Green are the least sweet. Mommy doesn’t like the green.”
Why are people looking at me funny? Oh, dammit! I’m doing it again. I am in the Acme, buying peppers, talking to a child who is in fact in pre-school this morning.
I was talking to myself one day last week, while I was walking from the kitchen to the laundry room. I have to repeat, mantra-style, my purpose for leaving one room to go to another. Otherwise, I’ll forget by the time I get there.
Me: “Paper towels, paper towels, paper towels, paper towels”
I really have to pee.
Me: “paper towels, paper towels, paper towels”
Stupid bladder. Fine, I’ll pee, but I better repeat my mantra while I’m relieving myself.
The powder room is connected to the laundry room, so the paper towels are in plain sight from the commode.
Me: “paper towels, paper towels, paper towels”
Also in plain sight is the powder room’s white sink. With a large, dark brown streak on the outside of its bowl.
Me: “Paper towels…Paper…towels…”
What is that? What is all over the side of the sink?
Oh, for the love of God. Seriously?! Which one of those boys wiped their poop on the side of my sink? Disgusting creatures. Hmm. Let me think….
Because the powder room is connected to the laundry room, it’s freezing in there. All year long. That’s a bonus during the summer months. When the A/C is running, it’s a refrigerator in there. We are tripping over one another to use the powder room. But the other 9 months of the year? Most of the kids will wait for the full bathroom upstairs.
The Interrogator always asks permission before going #2. He gets very close to me, looks left and right and whispers, “Mom, I have to ask you something…can I…” He looks left, right…left…right, “Can I go poop?” Sometimes he’ll get to the coveted bathroom to find the Kenyan or Waldorf in the same situation.
Interrogator: “Who’s in there? I have to…” looking left, right, left, and lowering his voice to a whisper, “I have to poop.”
The Kenyan: Behind the closed bathroom door, “Interrogator, I’m in here. Use the downstairs bathroom.”
Interrogator: Speaking to the closed bathroom door, “Awwwww! I don’t like the downstairs bathroom. It’s cold. I like this bathroom. I have to go, are you almost done?”
The Kenyan: “No! Don’t rush me! You’re going to have to go downstairs!”
The Interrogator typically dances around in circles in his bedroom, getting increasingly paler in pallor with each passing second, waiting for the throne of his choice. Sometimes he absolutely has to resort to the cold bathroom.
So I know he’s a suspect.
Hmmm. Waldorf hasn’t used the powder room since 2005. He refuses. It’s too cold for him 12 months of the year. The Kenyan hasn’t used the powder room since August. He will use it seasonally, like a summer suit. Which leaves the Interrogator and the Verb.
The Verb is potty trained. Our little Verb is very independent. This is good, because we, as parents, are very tired. He was going to have to raise himself whether or not he was independent. So, it’s fortunate that he is. He doesn’t ask permission to open the refrigerator or the pantry or to use the bathroom. He just does it. And this independence actually helps me most of the time. So, when he does his business in the bathroom, he likes privacy. Finally, a kid who’s speaking my language. But, like a ninja, he’ll creep up on me while I am washing dishes or putting away groceries. I’ll turn to find him standing there with his back to me, naked from the waist down, bent over and grabbing his ankles. And he says, “Mom, I go’d poop. Now you can wipe mine heiney.”
Me: “You are such a big boy. Great job, off you go. Don’t sit down at the table until you put your pants back on please.”
So, it’s not the Verb. The Interrogator. It’s definitely the Interrogator.
By this time my inner monologue has completely overpowered my chanting, so I’ve no recollection of why I’d left the kitchen in the first place.
What did I need again? Damn these kids. Well, the Interrogator is going to have a little tutorial in bathroom cleaning when he gets home from kindergarten today. I better write this down before I forget…
Me: heading back to the kitchen, “Poop on the sink, poop on the sink, poop on the sink”
I grab a paper and pencil.
Me: “Poop on the sink, poop on the sink, poop on the sink..”
No point on the pencil.
Ahhh. Do they ever sharpen the pencils? I have 7 sharpeners in this drawer! And 42 pencils! Would it kill them to sharpen the freaking pencils? Wait, why do I need a pencil? Ahhh!
Finally, I find a pencil with a point. I scrawl, “Interrogator gets his first lesson in sink cleaning,” and put the note on the center of the counter where I’ll be sure to see it in a few hours.
Now I know what most of you are thinking.
How could this woman, this filthy woman, possibly find feces on the sink and walk away?
First of all, it was on the side of the sink. Not in the sink. Don’t judge. This would never have happened 1, 2, even 3 kids ago. Is it gross? Definitely. Is it unsanitary? Clearly. Is it a teaching moment? Without a doubt. And the professor is in. I smile, and head back downstairs to the laundry room.
Me: “Rubber gloves, rubber gloves, rubber gloves”
I grab the rubber gloves, and then place them ever so gingerly next to the note.
Fast forward. Several hours later, I pick the boys up from school. They are all sitting in the car, buckled, making a mess of the snack I’d brought for them.
The rapid fire questions begin…
“Will Dad be home for dinner? Can I PLEASE play electronics tonight? Why do we have to have homework? I don’t like this snack, didn’t you bring something else that I really like? Can we have dessert first tonight? Can you tell him to stop breathing on me? Who stepped on my paper airplane? Where is my Ninja’s spinner?”
I haven’t even taken the car out of park yet.
Me: “Gentlemen, you’ve just had a nice time playing on the playground. When we get home, I am going to start making dinner, and you, Waldorf and you, Kenyan, will start your homework. Without complaining.”
Interrogator: “What about me, Mom? Can I watch Ninjago on the iPad? Please? Can I? You know I love Ninjago. It’s my favorite, Mom. Especially Jay. Because…you know why, Mom? Because he’s blue. And blue’s my favorite, Mom. It’s your favorite too, right, Mom? Even though you’re a girl and girls should like pink, you like blue most, right Mom? I know you like blue. You’re not going to make me eat big chicken tonight are you, Mom? I don’t like big chicken. I like little chicken. I only like little chicken. I don’t like big chicken. It makes me sad when you want me to eat big chicken. It makes me choke. I don’t like to choke, Mom. Don’t make me do it. Are you going to make me do it? Eat the big chicken?”
Yes, this is what life is like with the Interrogator. Eardrum exhaustion. And big chicken, by definition, is any chicken that is not chicken nuggets, which obviously, is little chicken.
At this point I make angry eyes at Waldorf and the Kenyan, whose ears are both bleeding, and who are clearly reaching out simultaneously to choke the Interrogator.
Me: “Oh, my sweet little Interrogator, I have such a treat for you at home!”
Interrogator: “Aha!! I know it! It’s dessert! It’s chocolate berry flan! My most favorite dessert! And NINJAGO ON THE IPAD!!! I just know it is!”
Me: “Not quite, buddy. Remember the other day when the Kenyan was in the upstairs bathroom and you had to use the downstairs bathroom?”
Interrogator: Whispering, looking left..right…left.. “When I had to go poop?”
Waldorf: “We can hear you, Interrogator! When you whisper, we can hear you!”
I shoot my angry eyes at Waldorf again to silence him.
Me: “Yes, Interrogator. When you went #2. Did you forget to tell me something? About the sink? About something you put on the sink?”
The Kenyan: “What? What did he put on the sink? It better not be one of my Legos!”
Waldorf: “What did he put on the sink? It better not be something of mine, or….”
Interrogator: “Oh. Right. Yeah. Poop, Mom?”
Waldorf and the Kenyan are outraged and disgusted. The Verb hears their dissent and joins in.
The Kenyan: “Oh my…Interrogator! That’s disgusting! What the…the poop goes in the potty, not in the sink!”
Waldorf: “This is, I have to say, totally disgusting. This may be the most disgusting thing I’ve heard from these kids. And that, well that is saying something.”
The Verb: “Interrogator? You go’d poop in the sink? Aw…that’s yucky.”
Interrogator: “No, no, no! I went in the potty. Then, it got on my hand. And I wiped it on the sink. Sorry, Mom. Sorry for doing that. Sorry for wiping it on the sink.”
Me: “Thank you, Interrogator. You get the treat of helping me clean the sink when we get home.”
Interrogator: Incredulous, “Oh, man!”
Waldorf: “That’s only fair! You made me clean the toilet when I peed all over the back of it.”
Me: “Indeed I did, Waldorf. And you’ve managed to perfect your aim since then, haven’t you?”
Waldorf: “Uh, yes. Because I do NOT like those rubber gloves.”
As soon as we pull into the driveway, Waldorf, the Kenyan and the Verb jump from the car and race to the powder room to investigate the crime scene. The Interrogator walks as slowly as possible, looking at me with his best angry face.
I strip off his coat and prep him for surgery. Rubber gloves, check. Open window for ventilation, check. Clorox wipes, check.
He’s still wearing his angry face. Which makes it increasingly difficult for me to suppress my laughter.
Interrogator: “Sorry, Mom. And, you’re beautiful, Mom. And I love you. Can you please clean the sink? Poop is yuck. I don’t want to do it.”
Me: “I love you too, bud. And thank you for your sweet words. And I will not clean the sink. Because I didn’t dirty the sink. You did. Which is why you will clean it.”
He places the wipe against the sink as though he’s Bob Ross on PBS on a Saturday afternoon, mixing titanium white with just a touch of red to paint happy little clouds.
Interrogator: “There. Done.”
I raise my eyebrows.
Interrogator: “Grrrr! Yuck. I don’t like it! Fine!” scrubbing harder now, “Ugh, yuck. Ugh! Why do you make me do this? Ugh.” Gagging now. Scrubbing more slowly and gagging a great deal.
Oh, shit! Truly, shit! He’s gonna puke! Where’s the bucket?
Me: “Bucket, bucket, bucket, bucket”
I look frantically around the laundry room, only to find the bucket hanging right next to the…
Me: “PAPER TOWELS! YES!!! HA HA!!!!”