There’s dried fettuccini on the bathroom floor, which is a variation from the usual wet towels, but this time it’s not the teenagers’ fault. Toddler has been rummaging around the cupboards, plunging fat sticky hands in the oatmeal, tossing raisins at the dog, and now playing pick up sticks with the pasta. I think I turned my back to remove a sock from the plant pot or something.
Like a lot of people our age, the Norwegian Artist and I are on the tail end of raising one set of kids when we find ourselves presented with the next generation, with which we interact on a deeper level than a weekly play date at the park.
And so we find ourselves getting to know Toddler very well, providing deluxe babysitting services while we run a business, helping a teenager with Spanish homework in almost the same breath that we read “Hands, Hands, Fingers, Thumb,” for the thirteenth time, cheering as vigorously for the product in the pink potty as for College Girl’s Associate in Arts degree.
But not watching Barney. We missed the purple dinosaur the first time through, and the kids turned out just fine. Isn’t Barney old enough to get a job or something, and leave the house?
I had forgotten just how dirty Toddlers get in the course of the day. There’s pretty much a five-minute period – after getting dressed and before breakfast – when their face isn’t smeared with food, spit, dirt, or viscous nose product. I am reminded of chocolate covered bananas rolled in coconut and nuts – everything sticks.
The house is echoes the chocolate banana thing as well, although with teenagers present, this isn’t as unusual. In addition to the earlier mentioned towels, jackets draped over chairs, and books and notebooks flung from sofa to dining room table, we now have plastic princess tea cups, ratty blankies, and partially eaten graham crackers that the dog hasn’t found.
We also have staff – four or five of us working in tandem so that no one person is responsible for story time, block building time, nature walk time, snack time, bath time – I honestly don’t know how the Norwegian Artist and I did it initially, with two of us responsible for a pack of four.
But somehow we did, and somehow we’re doing it again, with the added benefit of remembering Toddler’s mother at this same age, and seeing the similarities and the differences between the two. I’m also enjoying watching my husband of nearly 30 years falling in love with another female – a chunky, noisy, invasive, busy, prattling troll with whom the Norwegian Artist is absolutely besotted.
I remember the melancholy day, years ago, when Son and Heir and Tired of Being Youngest were long past the stage of two babies in the bath tub, and I reluctantly admitted to myself that they had not played with the Winnie the Pooh tubby toys for a long, long time. Sadly I scooped up Piglet, Eeyore, Pooh, Tigger, and a series of little sailboats and dropped them into a Tupperware box.
“That part of my life is over,” I told myself.
And so it was. But in this new stage of my life, Pooh and his friends are back, and bathtime is wet and splashy again.
I just make sure to pick up the fettuccini off of the bathroom floor first, or things would get really messy.