These days (and by that I mean: days with a toddler), my life seems to revolve around a certain kind of “exchange rate.” Getting anything done revolves around how much of a ‘hit’ I’m willing to take in exchange for my productive activity of choice. It doesn’t matter how much we baby-proof the house, or store things up high, she finds her way into trouble. Leaving Lilly unattended to get something done is the best way to find out what new skills she has acquired that we were, as of yet, unaware of.
Lilly’s capacity for exploration (which inevitably ends up meaning: trouble!) seems to grow with each passing day as her curiosity, climbing, and problem-solving skills grow faster than I can keep up with! Let me offer a few examples from our every-day life:
My productive activity: Packing Trinity a lunch while listening to her read aloud.
Lilly’s choice of activity: finding her way into mommy’s bathroom, climbing onto the bathroom counter (that’s a new one!), locating the most expensive thing on the counter (mommy’s $30 per ounce skin serum) and eating half of it. The lid ‘locks’ but the kid figured out how to undo that! At least it’s completely organic so I didn’t have to call poison control.
Overall assessment: Trinity gets a healthy lunch and read aloud time vs $15 worth of skin serum wasted.
My productive activity: Taking the time to actually do Trinity’s hair before she goes to school.
Lilly’s choice of activities: Climbing onto the kitchen stools, spilling the cereal her sister left on the counter all over the floor, getting ahold of a pen, writing on herself and adding her own illustrations to a book she also managed to find. She looked at me as if to say “What? I colored on paper!”
Overall assessment: One of my children actually looks put together and cute vs. needing to vacuum and try to scrub pen off of the other child…and institute a “No Lilly on the kitchen stools” rule.
My productive activity: going downstairs to put in a new load of laundry. There are more items that need pre-treating than I realized and it takes me longer than I intended before heading back upstairs.
Lilly’s choice of activity: getting into a diaper bag, finding the desitin and smearing large amounts of it in her hair as though it were shampoo. (She was quite proud of herself for this one! She looked at me like “Look mommy! I know what to do with this! Aren’t I a big girl?” with a huge smile on her face.)
Overall assessment: Our family will have clean clothes vs. Lilly now needs a bath and several hair washes to get the Desitin out which means in exchange for clean clothes, mommy spends 20 minutes with a SCREAMING toddler trying to get her cleaned up. Lilly HATES getting her hair washed. (So why was it ‘fun’ to pretend to wash her hair?) I also have to confess something to you. I didn’t have time to wash her hair immediately….so she spent a little while smelling like butt cream with her hair pasted down. I’m not proud of it…but there it is.
My productive activity: Trying to get dishes unloaded and reloaded from the dishwasher while Lilly is out of the room. She likes to ‘help’ with dishes, which includes climbing/sitting on the dishwasher door while it’s down, snatching the silverware basket and running away giggling, grabbing dirty dishes to play with, or constantly trying to close the door while you are in the middle of trying to unload or load. Lilly being out of the room (or in time-out for the aforementioned activities) is crucial to the success of this activity. I took advantage of the quiet moment.
Lilly’s activity of choice while mommy naively thought doing dishes was a good idea: getting into her sister’s room, climbing up onto her desk to reach the top of the dresser, pulling a shelf out of the wall, and grabbing Trin’s jewelry box…the one containing all the tiny beads to that broken necklace that needs to be fixed. When I caught her she was gingerly holding the jewelry box, slowly climbing down from the desk, looking at the beads as if they were the most valuable treasure she had ever seen. She was obviously trying very hard not to spill them. Of course, once she was caught she shook her hands, distraught over the thought of losing her treasure and the beads tumbled everywhere.
Overall assessment: Mommy should have known better than to take advantage of Lilly being out of the room! The kitchen may look better but a shelf is now ripped out of the wall in Trinity’s room and all those tiny beads need to be cleaned up before Lilly tries to eat them.
It’s quite the exchange rate, to be sure. I’m certain one day all her curiosity, determination, and problem solving skills (meaning: figuring out how to make what she wants happen) will serve her well in life. In the mean time, she’s lucky she’s been napping well so I can catch my breath and remember that I love her.
I didn’t have any pictures of the Desitin incident, but here are a couple of the Grapefruit Incident from last week. I thought if I gave her a piece of grapefruit to suck on while I loaded dishes, it would keep her occupied. It did. I looked up to see her rubbing it all over her head: