Tuesday, June 07, 2005

To Do Instead

To Do Today:
1. Ironing
2. Clean Zone II (downstairs hallway, bathroom, laundry room, office)
3. Mail forms to broker
4. Put in meat market order
5. Collect & put out household garbage
6. Vacuum sofas / chairs
7. Order soapmaking supplies
8. Read today’s articles at www.wsj.com, www.smartmoney.com, www.fool.com
9. Research tickers CHIR, CIEN, FRO, and PLMD
10. Redo valuation calculations on SE, MCD, INFA, adjust targets or take profits?

To Do Instead:
1. Set up fingerpainting
2. Report findings for the edification of the Guild.

In the interest of completing my To Do Instead list, I submit the following findings.

First, if there is any chance whatsoever that you might be engaging in activities such as, say, glitter glue, stickers, and/or fingerpaints, make sure you have a stock of dollar store plastic picnic table covers on hand. Nothing says, “Sure, we can get out the fingerpaints!” like having a cover you can put over your precious WalMart vinyl table cloth {ahem} before the heathens are turned loose with paint. Then, when you’re all done, you just fold that bad boy up, paint spots, ‘not good enough’ pictures and all, and shove it into the trash (hmm, trash, trash, why is that ringing a bell…?).

Oriental Trading Company rocks. Oh yeah. Huge jugs of finger paint, four dozen sponge stamps, cheap-cheap-cheap. And they frequently offer free shipping, so I don’t even have to leave my house to get the goods. Hot dog! (Hot dog, hot dog, hmm, there goes that bell again…)

Disposable Tupperware are fantastic finger paint containers.

Children should always fingerpaint in their underwear, because to do otherwise is just plain hard on mommy’s blood pressure. There is no such thing as an apron that can keep clothes from getting paint on them, especially if mommy is going to be doing the ironing while said children are exploring their artistic abilities. (Hey! I actually did something on my list…CHECK!)

There can be no such thing as ‘too many’ hand-wiping towels while fingerpainting is in progress. The thin, cheap-but-washable kind you can get at Costco (similar to the disposable Tupperware – you don’t cry if you just throw it out, but it can also just go in the wash with your regular clothes) are perfect.

It is a waste of breath to remind the children that if you get the blue in the white paint, you will have light-blue paint and no white. Ditto reminding them that blue and yellow will make green and that there is no unmaking of said green. Water put on the table to cleanse sponges between dippings will probably be used instead to wash hands. Or be drunk the instant you aren’t looking. {shudder}

It is also a waste of breath to remind the children not to touch anything (walls, sofa, cat, fridge, each other) when their hands are coated with paint. Just keep taking deep breaths and remind yourself, “It’s washable, it’s washable, it’s washable.”

If that doesn’t work for you, remember what the Buddha says: All things are transitory. The sofa’s ultimate destiny is found in its impermanence, and disintegration into a pile of messed up fabric and wood is only right and natural.

If that doesn’t work for you, remember that the sun is definitely over the yardarm somewhere in the world, and have yourself a nice little belt of something (I’m currently on my second Diet Coke of the day) (and my second dose of Motrin).

Fingerpaint does not smell nice to grownups. Kids think it smells fabulous, but it is in fact stinky. And the whole house will smell like the paints. There is an easy way to fix this, however. Bake cookies. Or brownies. Either way.

And, once you’ve rung all (most) of the paint out of the sponges (which should take a mere hour or so), a metal colander makes a primo sponge dryer.

Finally, I would also like to inform you that three year olds are very cool, because they think what makes yellow and blue turn green is, and I quote, “magic color fairies.”

Five year olds are also cool, because they’re willing to pretend (for the sake of peaceful coexistence with siblings) that they believe that too when everybody, and I mean everybody, knows that actually they turn green because blue and yellow get married and have green babies.

And younger kids on the whole are cool because they both appreciate and accept your adulation. They don’t have any ‘modesty’ problems, they don’t doubt that you’re telling the whole truth, they don’t second-guess your delight with the results of their efforts. We older types do that all the time. Someone walks up and says, “Wow, good job! I like what you’ve done!” and what do we do? “Yeah, but I shoulda-coulda-woulda…” or “Uh, thanks.” (lower eyes, rush away).

Not my kids. We start the “Mommy, lookit what I drew!” routine, and when I say, “Hey, lemme see!!” they don’t stand back and say to themselves, She doesn’t really want to see, she’s just saying that because I’ve cornered her into saying that…and by ‘good job!’ she means ‘what a loser!’…

Oh, no. Their little eyes shine with excitement and gratification, their voices get more and more shrill with excitement as they point out any wonderful points of artistic interest I may have missed (it’s a mermaid with a horse in the sea with a TREE!!!), and they may ultimately get so keyed up by the whole “meet the critics” thing that they will be forced to throw paint-encrusted arms around my neck and shriek, “I love you the MOSTEST!!” right in my now-throbbing ear (hmm, just how many Motrin can one take in a four hour period without, you know, dying…?).

The old To Do list, as important as it may be in the Land of Grownups, will be with me always, largely unchanged as the years roll by. Whether I get the trash together and out the door tonight isn’t likely to make a whole lot of difference to our lives. The trash is going to be with me pretty much always.

Youth, my own and that of my children, won’t.

I must take care of the household business, the cooking, the cleaning, the nest-egg-building. But I must also remember the To Do Instead list, the goofing off and the playing and the cherishing of what is now, as well as the what is to be tomorrow.

Our time here with each other is so fleeting and precious. This moment won’t be coming around again, and of such moments are lives built.

Take care of business. Ensure your own bliss. Do your necessary labor and toil – that’s part of the human existence.

Just don’t forget that sometimes – you’ve got a To Do Instead list to take care of, too.


Myownigloo said...

I hope my next mom is just like you.

PipneyJane said...

Ditto what Jo Anne said. I also hope that somewhere along the line, I'll absorb some of your wisdom for when I have kids.

I wish your blog had a rec button.

- Pam