Yesterday was even hotter than the day before and the length of the afternoon loomed large ahead of me so I made a rash decision to put all three kids into their own plastic bin of water. I didn't think through all the details. I knew I had to act fast before Manny spiraled into constantly pushing both girls at the same time rather than alternating between the two. So I ran into the family room and dumped a bin of stationary onto the couch. Heaps of untouched Christmas cards I bought with good intentions cascaded over boxes of invitations purchased at a liquidation sale that, in this age of evite, will probably live forever in my closet. The couch was too full to handle all of the gift bags I have accumulated from years of generosity at Christmastime and showers, so those I left on the floor of the closet.
As soon as Manny realized what we were about to do, he could not wait. Those two inches of water were irresistable, so I stripped him down and he climbed into his bin. What I didn't anticipate, but should have, is that Glory and Elena both were curious about what Manny was doing and wanted to pull themselves to standing on his bin. They also do this every time Manny is sitting at the dining table in his booster seat. He hates this. It doesn't matter how cheery he is, whether he is eating steak or apple pie - there is no food tasty enough to distract him from the annoyance he feels when the girls pull themselves up on his chair. He takes the palm of his hand, presses it to the center of their forehead and pushes with all his might. It is no understatement to say that this behavior drives me crazy. It is a terrible thing to feel like your child is the enemy. And it is easy to start feeling that way about Manny. He terrorizes the babies. But he is still in diapers. He could not be accused in any way of maturity so it is ridiculous of me to expect otherwise. It's just challenging. I was telling Rona that sometimes I play things out that my kids do into their adulthood. For example. Elena and Glory are at Manny's heels no matter how many times he knocks them on their heads. This makes me worry that they will be the kind of women who stay with abusers because they are loyal lovers and believe that their man has the ability to change. Pretty stupid, but I have always been a long-term perspective kind of person and this is where my mind goes.
By the way, I should add that Manny is a delightful child. He is curious, quick to laugh, patient, interested in everything, has a great appetite and he's a tender snuggler (minus the hair pulling and subsequent hair eating). If he was an only child, life with him would be easy. Sure, he would have his toddler moments. Everyone does. But he is an easy kid. It's just this whole gentleness thing that is a problem.
So, he's in the bin, the girls are getting pushed and keep coming back for more, everyone's soaked already and I still have two empty bins to fill. And the sink is far enough away that the deck could look like the final scene from Hamlet by the time I get back. Manny's not listening to any of my warnings, so I pull him out of his bin and try to have a conversation with him. He's kicking and screaming and still naked and wet. It's like to trying to hold onto and reason with a giant sturgeon. People are walking by on the street and can see his bare butt through the open slats of our gate. Finally, I give up on talk and instruct him to sit on the ottoman in the living room while I fill up the girls' bins. This miraculously works and by the time all three children are in their bins, my head is pounding and I realize I have no towels or diapers for the after part of this adventure.
All three kids want a peri bottle. I have never stopped to think about why they are called that, but as I just typed the word, I figured it out. Perineum. That's the part of a woman's body nobody usually talks about. And after you give birth, they hand you a bottle so that you can give yourself a mini-shower every time you use the toliet, making wiping unnecessary. Thank God for that. I have only given birth twice, so therefore, there are only two peri bottles. This is a big conflict in the water bins and someone is constantly unhappy. I am definitely not giving birth again just so I can get another bottle and I suppose that wouldn't solve the problem anyway because then I would have four children vying for three bottles, only I wouldn't know about it because I would be living in Canada.
I remember that I have an empty ketchup bottle filled with vinegar and water in the kitchen. I run to the kitchen, thinking "don't trip and incapacitate yourself causing the children to drown in an inch of water in a gift bag box" while constantly turning around and counting 1, 2, 3 heads...1, 2, 3, heads. So far, so good. I get back with the ketchup bottle and this solves the problem.
Elena wants to climb out of her bin, Glory sits and observes, quietly playing with her peri bottle, and Manny waves his peri bottle up and down, spraying me with water. If I play it up, he think it's hilarious. So I comply and occasionally splash him back, which he loves. He pauses to take a pee into his bin. I can see this coming from a mile away and I start talking quick. But it doesn't matter. He refills his peri bottle with the pee water and soon I am covered in that too. I can't really run away. The two babies make it a delicate situation.
Once the pee starts flying, I am done. I get all the kids out of their bins, dump the water and let them crawl around the deck in the buff while the water evaporates. I look at the clock. It is only 4:45. How is this possible? Where are my reinforcements?
Time to make dinner. Manny wants to hear his new favorite song. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine by The Killers. It's a cool song, but it's about something violent happening to Jenny and the only reason I tolerate it is because it's not at all graphic. There's no way Manny knows what it's about. For some reason, he loves it. I have not played a song on repeat this much since the 8th grade when I would tap dance in my garage to If You Go Away, a little known single release by New Kids on the Block that captured my heart and broke it in those three and a half minutes again and again. Tap dancing helped relieve the pain.
Manny has turned Jenny into a dance routine. He stands at the top of the ramp and waits like an Olympic gymnast in the floor competition for the appopriate beat of the music to raise his arms like a bird and prance around the island in a fervor until the song is complete. And he wants to do this again and again. This is one of the reasons I love him. He is a creative dancer. I have taken a picture that I will post next time.