30 March 2011

Dirty Messy Scoundrels

If ever there were a great big muddy bog or a huge grungy puddle you could guarantee my kids would be in it, up to their eyeballs. They love mess and dirt and grime more than almost anything.

When my son eats he squeezes his food between his fingers and watches it bulge out the sides of his chubby fist. When my daughter eats yoghurt, she will deliberately trace the spoon around the outside of her mouth to make her brother laugh and then continue to eat leaving mess all over her face. If I ever give them an open container of liquid, a drink for example, they will find something to mix into it, sweet corn, bread crumbs, ketchup maybe. When they play with chalk on the balcony, instead of drawing with it they grind it, add water (if none is available they use spit, ick) and they paint the floor. When I pick up my daughter from school my kids are usually the only ones up to their elbows in earth feeling around in the ground hog holes that litter the grass. I do stop them, I am scared they will get bitten, but they are slippery customers (not the groundhogs) and before I have time to catch my breath they are back in the earth.

On the day we moved into our home my daughter was 3.5 years old. We shut our cat away in one of the bedrooms to keep her out of harms way while the furniture was being moved in. My daughter decided she wanted to go in and keep the cat company, she is a sweet gentle girl and was pretty responsible for her age so we didn’t think anything of it. She was playing very nicely and was ever so quiet, demanding nothing of us and letting us see to our then 1 year old, frighteningly active, boy and the small matter of moving. When I finally went to check how she was doing I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, she had got the (thankfully new) cat litter and mixed it in with the cat’s drinking water till it formed a paste and then smeared it all over (ALL over) a chest of drawers that had just been moved into that room. She did a pretty good job, she was thorough. Cat litter paste is very hard to wash off, it is so slimy and if it dries you are done for.

It has been raining a lot in Southern California recently. At the weekend we went for a hike in Malibu with some friends. After having to remove our shoes to wade over what had been a meandering stream and was now a rushing torrent of water we were able to begin the hike. The kids enjoyed being carried over the water by the adults so much they just wanted to keep doing it. Once we had dragged them away and put our wet feet back in our socks and shoes we were ready to start. The hike started beautifully, it was overcast with a sea breeze, perfect, the climb was gentle, just right, and there were hundreds of roly-polies (those woodlice that curl up in balls). To a group of 3, 4, 5 and 6 year old children the roly-polies were very significant. I had to eventually make my daughter put her fist full of bugs down as she was walking too slowly and we were lagging behind everyone. As we ascended the hill and took in the beautiful views of Santa Monica Bay the terrain started to get more and more muddy. By the time we had gone inland a little way and the climb became steeper it was beginning to get pretty slippery. On the first sharp bend all Hell broke loose. Now, we would have been OK if the group of 5 young kids had paid any attention to our advice on how to avoid the mud, ‘stay on the edge, walk on the grass” etc. but it was mud and they are kids. On that bend 2 of the kids lost a shoe (one of them my daughter, she was DELIGHTED) and one of them fell face first into it and had to be helped up, somehow her mum ended up with much more mud on her than her daughter did…weird. Skip to a few short minutes later and the TICKS were discovered, yes you read me right, TICKS. I had never seen or knowingly been in the presence of ticks before. There is something about them that just makes my skin absolutely crawl. Actually it’s not just one thing, the way they crawl, the way they look, oh yeah and that part where they bury their heads in your flesh, suck your blood and give you some random disease.  My daughter’s best friend had about 20 on the seat of her pants, about 20 more were found at diferent times during the rest of the hike on various people. They didn’t come near me, thank God, I would have not reacted in a positive or dignified manner. I walked slap bang in the middle of the path the rest of the way down and adopted what I like to think was a snowboarder’s stance (goofy I imagine) and slid. Anyone who knows me can easily imagine my reaction to ticks. By the time we had finished we all had mud up to at least our knees and went to get some very well-deserved fish tacos.

I should have known when we arrived at the playground this afternoon and I saw the big hole that had been dug in the sand box and filled with water, exactly what would happen. I should have taken a picture of just my two kids dancing bare foot in the sandy mud, it would have been a perfect photo. By the time we arrived at the playground this afternoon my son already had his second pair of pants on after having experimentally poured his bottle of water on himself in the car, it makes red turn darker you know. He also had dribbles of frozen yogurt all down the front of his t-shirt to which I was not giving a second thought. Like a moth to a flame he immediately went to play in the wet sandy hole, it was actually one of the most pleasant afternoons in the park I have had, because he didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t lose sight of him at all, in fact he was as happy as a pig in….,.. and so was I. He did eventually go a little too far, as they always do, with sandy water soaked well through his underpants and I had to wrap him in my clean cardigan and take them both home for a good scrub. I don’t own a washing machine much to my dismay, which makes all this slightly less fun and a heck of a lot more complicated.

Beautiful grubby happy children.

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