Sunday, July 15, 2007

On Toys, Shoes and Dog Poop

Now that I have all of three kids, I should feel like a well established mom, right? Wrong.

My days are crazy, my nights are crazy, my kids are crazy and even my husband is crazy.

I am awake when the rest of Central Standard Time citizens are sleeping and I sleep when they're awake. My kids are going 3 different directions at once and my husband is trying to keep up with me and all three of our kids plus maintain his own adult life that used to be predictable. Thanks to the presence of our darling baby boy who squeaks and squalls in a corner of our bedroom several times a night, my good man is sleepless at the wrong end of the clock too. But, the poor guy can't make up for it when the sun rises and the last child of our youth has finally peacefully entered dreamland.

Yes, you read that right too, last child. But, for you concerned individuals who believe as I do that children are a blessing, notice I said last child of our youth. At the rate we're going with this amount of sleep, we will not be youth by the time we have our next child.

Oh, and as for the house? Don't even go there. It is the culmination of everything crazy. I have been sorely tempted to completely empty our house of every possession and only return the items of necessity. That would entirely leave out toys, shoes and dog poop.

Yes, dog poop. Every time the kids go out to play in our privacy fenced yard, their foot ware (or bare feet if the dog steals their shoes) are threatened by the offensive aroma -- not to mention the actual substance -- of canine feces. I've about had it with the dog, carpet and kids. Somehow in my frantic I-can't-stand-that-smell mode, I've wisely realized that technically we can only get rid of the dog and carpet; not the kids that are mingling the dog with the carpet through the transportation of the feces.

But, before going to the dramatic effort of getting rid of the dog and carpet, we eliminated the dog poop problem by teaching are most able bodied child the art of picking up dog poop with special garden tools. He was thrilled to have his own shovel and rake not to mention the prospect of new gloves, or "mittens" as he refers to them.

So, we got rid of the poop. Now on to the toys and shoes.

Every single time I look across the room or at the floor or happen to glance in any general direction, I am assaulted by a toy or shoe on the horizon. And usually not just one either. It's as if the plague of frogs has returned to the earth in the form of shoes and toys and they were all sent to my tiny 1000 sq. foot house. I wondered what I had done to gain such a harsh punishment and was immediately reminded of my childless days when I complained of nothing to do. As I reflected back to those blissful days of peace and cleanliness, that was when I decided to throw everything out of the house and then just come inside and sit for 5 minutes on the floor in my living room and revel in the peaceful atmosphere of no shoes or toys.

The problem is that my kids play with shoes like most kids play with toys. And my kids play with toys like most kids play with dirt; they get them everywhere. And if you're wondering if my kids play with dirt too, I can assure you they have an unbelievable amount of experience with that. But for now, lets keep our focus on the shoes and toys.

We've experimented with so many remedies for the shoes, it's not even funny. Short of just leaving one pair of shoes in the mailbox and picking them up when we leave the house and not a moment sooner, we've tried everything. But, my kids continue to find them and mix and match all day long. It gets really bad when the shoes happen to step into the dog poop problem. Then our dilemma is twofold.

The other day there were 3 pairs of shoes sitting on our basement steps waiting to be washed, thanks to the dog poop. All 6 shoes congregated there in less than 15 minutes too. The only reason more shoes weren't added was because I didn't let the kids play outside for the rest of the morning.

Instead, they came inside and played with shoes for the rest of the day. At least those didn't have dog poop on them though.

As for the toys, we've done everything to eliminate their curse from our lives as well. Except for eliminating the toy box all together. Believe me, I've been tempted. I've limited Landon's trucks down to just a couple, as in a total of 2. The rest are in boxes in the basement. It's pretty bad when your three old remembers a semi truck he used to have and casually asks if that one is in the basement somewhere too. Sorry Bud, you're gonna have to stick with just a dump truck today.

I'm not a Big Mean Mom (or at least I don't like to think of myself that way) so I can't say I've tried really dramatic things like collecting a day's worth of stray toys and mailing them off to starving children in Africa. I've never thrown away a perfectly good toy either so I've not even been tough that way. As for shoe rules, I've been pretty sane about them too. My rules are motivated by logic.

I've made the "one toy at a time" rule but that doesn't work with a tractor and trailer and load of farm animals.

I've made the "no toy left behind" rule but I forgot how many toys get left under couch pillows and rocking chairs and aren't found until after the child has picked up "all" their toys and has long ago been put to bed.

I've made the "no toys today" rule but quickly ruled that out when I tried to explain to my kids that their toys were just for looking at. Instead, I implemented that rule on the shoes but had to throw that out the window when Janae lost one sandal.

And then I caught myself the other day when I was feeding the baby. Both the kids were happily playing in their room with their toys and seeming to have a good time. But, I was heaving and sighing over the toys OUT of the toy box.

I guess I've been so perplexed about toys littering the space above, below and around the toy box that I can't relax and just let my kids play with their own toys and in their own room.

So, my new rule is this: if the shoe has a foot in it and the toy is being used in an active manner, I'm not gonna worry about it. But, if the shoe sits empty, the toy is lonely and the kids are mingling with other shoes and toys, we'll get down to business. (there, don't I sound mean?)

Now to just figure out what kind of business to get down to that will actually work this time...


Anonymous said...

After having 7 children of my own I think I can DISCERN your REAL's for gramma and grampa to rescue you from those kids so you can get your sanity back. Too bad you didn't live closer huh?!!! :)
Love you all much! MOM(gramma)

joygirl said...

No, I think she just needs me to come and help her. :);P

Sarah VE said...

I hear you !!!!

Let me know if there is trick to knowing where every one's shoes are when they are actually needed.....inevitably one young boys' shoes are not in the shoe shelf where he imphatically says he put them. Wonder why it is always the same kid ?

Jean said...

I think you might be in the process of discovering one of the reasons our ancesstors went barefoot during all the warm and semi warm months of the year - feet wash so much easier than shoes and dry quicker. So of course far enough back there they had dirt floors so didn't worry so much about exactly what came into the house.

An area just for the dog might curtail a ltiile of the poop problem - but I agree that is one thing that takes diligent servailance even in our yard where mostly only adults are walking.

A way back more than a half a century I don't think there were too many rules even in the city about where your dog or anyone elses travelled on their own and of course the inveitable would happen - some how we all lived through it. I also don't remember being barefoor a lot in my life - I don't think it was banned in our family I just didn't like the feel of walking on hot concrete or rough gravel.

Have fun while the chilren are at this stage. They grow up far too quickly and bigger problems some with each stage.

A. Jean