There was an incident in our house today that has caused me to question my parenting abilities in their entirety. I’m still reeling from the events and not quite sure where I have gone wrong, but I assure you, it is under careful review.
It all started with F calling from upstairs, “I need you.”
For you non-parents out there, allow me to give you a leg up on your peers. In the parenting realm, there are two types of “I need you’s”. One is a whine, usually deployed by an overwhelmed, over tired or over hungry child approximately every 30 seconds. This continues indefinitely until they eat, sleep or you prop them up in front of a television. They do not really need you when they do this. They just like to hear the sound of their own voice making an extended “waaaaa” sound and timing how long it takes before you completely lose your marbles.
The second “I need you” is usually a little too quiet and rings of deep sorrow. In this instance, yes they need you, but the sorrow you hear is because they have decided to involve you in the problem much, much too late.
In between these two extremes is a large span of silence. This silence can mean that the children are playing happily with blocks. It can also mean they have found a black sharpie and are coloring the dog with it. Usually it is fairly harmless and requires moderate clean up.
When it’s the whiny, “I need you” I usually ignore it until lunchtime. When its eerie silence, I go hunting for them and start sniffing for the smell of chocolate or opened paint cans. When it’s the pathetic, “I need you”, I sprint.
Since this was the latter, I took the stairs two at time to find my two middle children in my bathroom surrounded by a great cloud of white which turned out to be 1 ½ Costco sized reams of unrolled toilet paper. My 5 year old, sitting half naked on my toilet said, “She (motioning to his 2 year old sister huddling behind the toilet seat giggling) unrolled the toilet paper and then dumped the bunnies in the toilet.” “What bunnies?” I asked. “The bunnies from the tic-tac-toe game” he offered. I conjured up the imagery of the Target Dollar Spot tic-tac-toe game…got it. We are dealing with 9 small plastic bunnies.
I motioned for him to vacate the toilet seat to find several not quite solid poo’s floating in the water and nothing else. “Where. Are. The. Bunnies.” I hissed. “I took them out” he said. I thought about that for a few seconds while looking at the wet cuffs of his long sleeved t-shirt. Then the awful hit me. The awful question with an awful answer that has been haunting me since. I bent down toilet/ face level with my 5 year old. “Did you take the bunnies out of the toilet before or after you pooped in it?” “Hmm?” He said, as is often his response. Its part of the family mission to cause me to repeat myself as often as possible in a 24-hour time span. “DID YOU take the BUNNIES out of the TOILET. BEFORE. OR AFTER. YOU POOPED IN IT.” “Oh,” he says, “After”.
And that’s when everything I thought I did well as a parent went down the proverbial toilet.