It’s All for the Children

I love “Oklahoma!” And not just because it has a “!” at the end of it’s title. One of my favorite lines from the flick comes from Aunt Eller when she’s playing auctioneer at the school house dance.
“It’s all for the children, ain’t it?”
I find myself using that line time after time.
“Alicia, did you use the brand new Christmas lights that were supposed to be for the pillars outside and BURY them under all that fluff around the Nativity?”
“Well… It’s all for the children, ain’t it?”

Yesterday I woke up really early and ended up having a few hours to myself. It was great and truly needed. Thank GOODNESS for overcast skies that let my babies sleep and sleep and sleep.
I worked out, and then I read.
I read a couple of talks by M. Russell Ballard that got me thinking I should never, EVER leave my home. I’ve always wanted to teach, but lately I’ve been feeling like maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should stay home 100%, but get my teaching degree should the time come that I absolutely need it. Reading his talks on the value of motherhood and womanhood gave me the refresher and refocuser (not a word!) that I really, really, really, REALLY needed.
I decided to try and spend more time with my kids that day.
When my son woke up, I let him crack the breakfast eggs in the hot skillet. The only problem? The minute his hands felt the gooey insides of the eggs, he freaked and dropped the entire egg -shell and all -into the skillet. By the 4th egg, he caught on pretty well. No shell dropage there.
Soon his sister woke up, and I was attacked with a stomach ache I had been fighting off all night and most of the morning (my hormones are so lovely to me).
When I could muster it, I started mixing up dough to make a loaf of french bread. It was cooking day, after all, and I try to take one request a week from my husband. This week, he asked for french bread. He loves my french bread, BUT it takes for-ev-er to make. We’re talking… 5 hours at the very LEAST. Add a stomach ache and a full afternoon of visiting teaching to that, and you’ve got 9 hours.
It has to rise 3 different times.

Between the stomach ache and the visiting teaching and preschool, I didn’t get to see much of my daughter. When the boy took a late nap, I put in a movie for the girls and we played with my daughter’s press-on nails we’d bought her for her birthday. YEARS and YEARS ago, my mother bought me some press-on nails. I remember absolutely nagging the saneness out of my mother, begging her to do the press-on nails with me. Remember how it was as a kid? There was always something inside of you that said, “Don’t bug mom. You already bugged mom too much today.” But you couldn’t help it! You HAD TO ASK every FIVE MINUTES if Mom was ready NOW to play press-on nails even though she wasn’t ready 5 minutes ago. A lot can change in 5 minutes, right?
I remember clutching the package and dreaming of how amazing my press-on nails would look. They were brightly colored, yellow or orange -I can’t say which. If I remember right, they had a sort of tropical decal on them. Oh, how I longed to wear them and be the MOST beautiful girl in the world.
The moment finally came when mom agreed to help me put them on.
“When I get back from visiting teaching we’ll do them, okay? Don’t bother them until I get home.  I won’t be gone very long.” She said, and walked out of the door.
The anticipation was killing me. I sat on the edge of the counter and STARED at the press-on nails, beaming brightly back at me from their package. My toes tapped and curled… my palms tingled.
And then I really did it.
I opened the package and decided to DO it myself. I rationalized that Mom would be happy for me -she would be SO impressed with my ability to figure it out for myself.
Only I couldn’t seem to.
There were these sticky sticker thingies, but they were only sticky on one side… try as I might, I COULD NOT do it on my own, and because I tried so hard without having a lick of any idea as to what I was doing, I RUINED the press-on nails, and I never got to wear them. I still remember the look on mom’s face when she walked into the kitchen where I was. I remember how BADLY I WILLED the nails to just stick to my real nails so mom would be PROUD instead of UPSET. Stupid of me, really. And really stupid of me.
Of course I got in trouble for not listening.

I thought of that yesterday as I helped my daughter with her press-on nails. I’m not much better than I was back then with them. Luckily my little daughter is too young to know or care. I was able to get 5 of the little nails to sort of stick long enough to one hand long enough to snap a few pictures, and then she was over it. LUCKILY my nail skills are so crappy that the press-on nails came right off! No soaking for us!

My husband worked a long shift yesterday, so I didn’t bother with dinner… mostly because the awful stomach ache came back and I was flattened on the couch with nothing but my crocheting and hot pad to comfort me. The french bread I had started at 9 am was finally finished around 7 pm. The girl, who had helped me with the dishes and rearranged my entire kitchen (because hand mixers BELONG on top the fridge) asked if she could cut the loaf.
“No,” I said, “That’s just for Dad. He likes to cut it.”
“But,” she used her favorite word and held up a butter knife, “I just know how to use this.”
“Daddy likes to do it himself,” I said, “Please do not touch that loaf.”

And then I resigned to the couch, ne’ermore to rise.
Until I saw:

The loaf.
The all-day-french-bread loaf.
The ENTIRE loaf… gone! I felt exactly like the mother from “A Christmas Story” when her neighbor’s dogs ravish her turkey.
“Is this -?” The words caught in my throat, “ALL of the bread?”
“I FIXED it,” my daughter said, cheerily.
“Okay… but didn’t I tell you not to cut it?”
“I TORE,” she held her hands up, demonstrating to me exactly how she had done it.
I’m sure she rationalized in her mind, just as I had as a young girl all those years ago, that her mother would be PROUD of her rather than upset.
I was just upset, though I did my best to hide it on account of her having tried her best to make dinner for everyone.
Note the cookies? We’d made them together for our neighbor who so lovingly lent us about one billion Christmas lights to use during the festive season.
They even chanced to package up a bunch of the cookies in Minnie Mouse Containers for their Daddy. A “surprise” for him.

I had listened to the kids as they put dinner up (fully unaware that the bread was being demolished).
“Trent, just do errything that I say for you to do.”

“This is glass, Trent, and so you hafta be careful for it may BREAK.”
“DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS!” I interjected from the living room.
“But,” Lacy said, using her favorite word.
“Awwwight…” Trent would say.

Trent’s a great kid. His wife will love him.

After about an hour and after having discovered the bloody French Loaf Massacre, I pled with my daughter to PLEASE leave the kitchen.
“But… I’m fixin’ stuff.”
“Please hurry and be done fixing soon,” I said.
She wiped off a platter with a red towel and deposited the crumbs on my kitchen floor, reminding me of the day when I had scraped all of the dried-up bits of leftover play dough onto my mother’s kitchen floor.
“You shouldn’t do that,” my oldest brother said to me.
“It’s okay,” I explained to him, “I always do and then Mom sweeps it up.”
Too bad I happened to explain that all to him while Mom was sitting nearby and listening. I didn’t understand then why mom said, “Sure, fine. Just leave it all to me” and then sighed heavily.
But I do now…
Sure, Lace. Just leave it all to me.

Gently replace the platter:

Then put mom’s dinner of cookies and bread on top.

In the end, it took the combined efforts of my husband AND myself to stop her from fixing things.
And, oh, my kitchen. My husband couldn’t find his keys this morning because they weren’t where he’d left them in the key dish. I couldn’t find a small bowl to fill with milk to dip my cookies in (what? It’s a serious problem!).
I need to fix it back up without hurting her feelings too badly.
She was just helping, after all.

**On a side note: I just realized that the entire time I’ve been typing, she’s had herself locked in my bathroom. When I asked her what she was doing, she said “CLEANING!” She was instantly ordered out and asked to please go rediscover her play dough. May she throw the dried up crumbs on the floor. Heaven knows, I deserve it.**

Just as we were winding down to go to bed, my son sat next to my on the couch and began threading crayons between his toes.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Putting dem in my toes,” he replied.
“Wecause I didn’t want them in my hands.”
Well. Obviously. Wecause.

This is the kind of no-nonsense thinking the world NEEDS which is why, today, I’m decidedly a forever stay-at-home mom… My kind of intellect ought not venture outside my own front door.
Decision subject to change depending on the quality of my sanity… In the meantime, have you seen my ladle?

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