Thursday, April 02, 2009
Our house is overrun with small plastic animals and princess paraphernalia. It's as if My Little Petshop vomited over every room. Every day Anna takes all of her stuffed animals out of her room and all of her dresses from her closet and 'makes princesses'. It's not easy to stuff a seal in to a sundress let me tell you. However, this game usually occupies her for 30 minutes at a time and I will gladly deal with a partially-clothed princess-strewn room if it's given me a bit of peace and quiet earlier in the day. The issue is tidying up afterwards. Now I have glanced at enough parenting websites and taken enough triceratops to the instep to know that if I:
a) want to avoid throwing myself out of the window in despair I should
b) involve Anna in the process of tidying up.
You will read that 3 year-olds live to be given tasks and to feel useful. Unless they're completely wise to you and then your suggestions of cleaning up that jigsaw puzzle are met with 'no Mummy, you do it, you're so much better at it than me'. My withering reply of 'that's because of the practice, Anna' falls on deaf ears.
I may be bloodied but I am not beaten and I am constantly trying to 'encourage' Anna to help around the house. And quite frankly, this maternity leave is killing me because spending too much time in our home is really opening my eyes to what a tip it is. It's so much easier to come home after a long day of work and be blinkered by exhaustion as to the state of the living room. Not so when you're sitting hour after hour nursing, staring at that tangle of VCR wires in the corner, or that parakeet bobblehead that's been collecting dust under the couch for three months. Solution to a dirty house - don't spend any time there!
There I was, faced with another mountain of washing and rather than head swiftly to the cocktail cabinet I decided to 'engage' Anna in the 'fun' of laundry. I explained that we have to separate clothes so that the colours don't run. I showed her how to make a pile of whites, darks and pinks (such is my life). Impressed by the novelty and unable to resist the genetic impulse to organize she set to work.
In no time we had a pile of whites, darks, pinks and knickers. Lots and lots of knickers. She had really taken the ball and run with it and no doubt disappointed by the comparative smallness of the knicker pile, had decided to add all her clean underwear as well. What these parenting websites don't tell you is that trying to involve a preschooler in any kind of productive activity inevitably produces more work, and in this case more laundry as there was no way I was going to sniff-test for freshness each pair of Dora knickers.
Knicker battle #1 fought and lost.
Then her knickers disappeared entirely. All of them. Not in her drawer, not in the laundry basket, not in a secret knicker stash - nowhere. I couldn't find any trace of them. I even checked to see if we had a cross-dressing guinea pig. Anna seemed as surprised as I was, suggesting that perhaps someone had 'borrowed' them. I renewed my search desperate to find a solution to Anna going to school in the morning clad in a Nemo swim diaper.
It was only after a full day of searching, and I started my routine de-princessing that I discovered this:
....and all because I'd once told her that Princesses always wear knickers...