Now, That’s a Stick!
My kids are at one with mud. And with me. They are never happier than when they get both at once, and are never satisfied until they do. They are muddy, clingy, baby mammals. Anyone who wonders whether we are similar to apes in any way need only to glance in my backyard because I frequently have dirty, contented children hanging from my limbs. Or, maybe that’s just my family.
Occasionally, I like to delude myself and try to get something done during the daylight hours when 1) mud is accessible and 2, ) Mom is available. They will not rest until they have both. Which means I will not rest. Or work. Or shower.
My moments of uninterrupted time increase to approximately four minutes when I’m closer to the children than ten feet – or farther away than thirty feet. There’s a radius of hell I try to avoid sitting in when attempting to concentrate. In the Radius of Hell, you are close enough they feel they can pull you into their orbit, yet far enough away they get a little panicky that you may leave entirely. The result is an all out crusade to gain your attention and physical proximity.
Today, the muddy tracks between the backyard and my desk are getting so thick, I begin to realize my failed attempts to accomplish something are really doing me more harm than good. I decide to give up the fight, so I go outside and join them where they are happily pasting mud onto every available square inch of their exposed skin. I sit down – ten feet away – and open a book.
My oldest (who’s three) walks by with purpose.
“Gotta take care of something,” he announces, eyes fixed straight ahead.
He’s aimed in the direction of his potty chair so I assume he picked up some new vernacular from one of his grandparents about using the facilities. I sniff a little, “oh, isn’t that cute” sort of laugh.
“Gotta get rid of this cobweb here. See?” He points underneath a chair. “Do you know why I gotta take care of the web? So we don’t have any black widow spiders,” says Crocodile Dundee.
Oh! I think, well, that’s good and bad. Good, because I’m a huge chicken – a deserter, really – when it comes to all forms of wildlife. Even if I see a sweet little deer or something, I think it could be protecting babies and want to run me off with it’s big powerful head, so I feel obliged to save it the trouble. Or, I imagine it’s being stalked by a mountain lion and I’m just getting in the way of dinner, which makes me the appetizer. So, it’s good we’re bringing up a young man who can sort out such things as spiders, both for my sake and for his.
But even in the potential throes of panic (there are black widows afoot!), I realize it’s probably not a good idea for him to plunge his precious baby hands into the dark, spider-webby underbelly of the chair.
“Use a tool,” I say. He glances at me briefly. “You could use a stick,” I offer, helpfully. Here’s one.” I point to the nearest twig.
“I need a stronger one,” opines the Crocodile Hunter.
He strides off, leaving the womenfolk and babies momentarily to fend for themselves, but he quickly returns. With a tree trunk.
I feel I am safe from black widows, and pretty much all manner of vermin intruder. Thank God he takes after his dad.
I return to my book in peace. For four minutes.