Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mother's Little Helpers

I used to be a punctual person.  I was always the one who showed up 15 minutes early, no matter what. 

THEN I HAD CHILDREN.  Two, to be exact.  One girl, one boy, 19 months apart (yep, that's not a typo.  I was still breastfeeding when I got pregnant the second time.)  I used to hate children, but found that I was really enjoying mine.  I loved it when they were little noodles and stayed where you put them.  I got excited when they rolled over, and was ecstatic when they started to crawl.  Then they started walking, and I should have known I was in trouble.

Because when I was in trouble, usually so were they.  They tried everything from crawling up on chairs to take one bite out of every ripe tomato on the table, to decorating the bathroom with toothpaste, to occasionally trying to kill each other.  Don't get me wrong:  they're good kids MOST of the time.  But when things happen, they happen big.  Plus, my punctuality suffered because there's always one last thing to do, one last thing to grab, one last thing to clean up after.

Now the current activity around here is HELPING.  I know, most of you are saying "awwwww" and possibly envying me.  I understand that I'm fortunate in having kids that really do want to help.  The problem is that it now takes 5 times as long to get ANYTHING done. 

Caitlin wants to help cook dinner.  She can't just go to the cabinet and find the jar of spinach, she has to examine everything else and ask why we can't have pineapple or olives or sauerkraut.  (She's a good German girl and loves her kraut!)  Even putting her on pot stirring duty hasn't worked.  I know, I know, it's all in the practice.  But when you're running behind on supper and you know that if those kids don't eat in the next 30 minutes, they'll probably begin gnawing their own arms off, it becomes rather important.  Plus, I have a short temper--better than it used to be, but that's only thanks to Ibuprofen.

Arthur likes to help me do chores.  Invariably, I get ready to go out (no easy feat in this weather) and he decides to come along at the last minute.  So, we have to find his shoes.  He has to put them on, which can take longer than you think.  Then he has to go potty (usually #2 too, but that involves a second trip.  I guess that's why they call it #2).  Then we have to fight about what coat is appropriate for the weather.  Ditto gloves.  Then he actually has to put on said gloves.  By the time we finally make it outside, it's 20 minutes later than when I first started--usually the time it takes to do one round of chores.

Then we head down to do the chores:  feeding the barn cats, letting the chickens out (and giving them fresh water), feeding the horses their alfalfa and pitching hay, then picking fresh greens for the chickens.  I have really TRIED to let Arthur help.  I give him the bucket of scratch grains for the chookies, and instead of scattering it, he usually ends up dumping it in one huge pile.  Yeah, I hear ya.  Use less and do the rest yourself.  Well, that's sort of working, but you try to tell a 4 year old boy not to yell "RAWR" at the chickens when they come to eat. 

Then there's the picking fresh greens part (since having him dump grain at the chickens has distracted him while I use the Pitchfork Of Doom).  We're infested with poison hemlock out here.  While I've heard that animals instinctively won't eat things that are bad for them, I'm not taking any chances.  I'm still amazed at how many things (besides the dang hemlock) are still green at this time of year.  Granted, it's been a pretty mild winter, but I'm still tickled.  He really wants to help pick greens.  His cute little hands can only grab a few strands of grass at a time, or a few stems of clover (and I'm trying to fill an entire bucket).  The problem is that every time I try to show him what the "poison weed" looks like, he's looking the other way.

I guess the important thing is that the chores DO get done, supper DOES get made, and the kids feel like they made a contribution.  I will say that the two of them are excellent firewood helpers.  Arthur is usually out with Scott feeding wood into the chute to the basement.  Caitlin is usually down with me, catching the smaller pieces to stack up for kindling or very small logs while I catch and sort the big ones.  They both still love to get their new work gloves on and pitch in, and this is really one time that they excel and we could use the help.

Like an old teacher of mine used to say, "Patience is a virtue, and Virtue is a grace.  Put them together and you'll have a happy face."  I may never be graceful (since I tripped again the other day and have a lovely multicolored bruise on my knee to show for it) but I might have a line on virtue.  One day, patience will come.  (Lord, please give me patience.  RIGHT NOW!!!!!)

Here are my little ones.  For anybody who tries to get any ideas, I have a gun and I'm a decent shot. My neighbors (who love the kiddos almost as much as I do) have many more guns and are better shots than I am.  Keep it in mind. 

I'm writing this while my little angels are sleeping above my heads.  Their smiles, their brains, and their uniqueness warm my heart.

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