Every morning after breakfast, my children play the same game over and over again. They love this game. They will run and giggle and carry on for nearly an hour.
Me, I’m not a huge fan. Why?
Because the game is filling their toy shopping carts to the brim with ball-pit balls (for some reason we possess 512, and yes, that is an accurate number), and then dumping them all over the first floor.
Stuffed under the dining room table. Pressed against the bottom of my fridge. Lurking under my counters, ready to trip unsuspecting adults. Spread in an even field down the length of the hallway like some strange, round, colored vegetable.
I even found one inside my washing machine this morning. After the load had run.
Josiah and I will be dead and decomposing in the ground, our house passed on to at least three other owners and our children now grandparents in their own right–and this house’s new owner will still find balls wedged in a forgotten corner.
You’re welcome, future owner.
Weak Parents Unite
We’ve decided not to put the kibosh on this game because 1) we are weak twin parents and 2) it genuinely brings the kids so much joy.
They will not always be two-turning-three, delighted to chase each other around the house with shopping carts. They will not always be fascinated by stuffing these balls into every conceivable place known to toddler.
Also, it’s a great opportunity to reinforce cleaning up after yourself.
From the beginning, my expectation was that the kids learn to clean up after themselves. Our house doesn’t have to look like it belongs in a magazine, but so help me God, the toys will be put away (most days).
We’ve been able to be consistent and now the kids are great cleaners. They don’t always want to put the toys away, but they know they’re not getting anything else until it’s done.
Calling All Camels
It’s been a busy week, so we were behind on our maintenance tidying. In other words, 510 of the 512 balls were spread all over my first floor, the dishes had piled up, the kids desperately needed a bath, and I was behind on laundry (again).
As a side note, our preschool unit from God’s Little Explorers this week is on Letter T and the story of Abraham “going on a trip.” In one of those rare moments of motherhood brilliance that only comes when you are well-rested, well-fed, and recently showered, I realized we could tackle the chores of the day themed after our Bible story.
I directed the kids to locate their shopping carts. (Groans at this. They know what it means.) But instead of announcing “You must clean up the balls!”, I said the shopping carts were camels and we were pretending to be Abraham. God told us to get ready for the trip. First, we had to feed the camels. And what do shopping cart camels like to eat?
You guessed it: Ball-pit balls!
512 of them, to be precise.
I wasn’t sure the kids would buy this, but let me tell you, they loved it. They ran around the first floor, talking about their camels and finding more food. We did have one incident of a kidnapped camel during the process–I won’t name names, but SHE swiped it when HE was not looking–and it caused a lot of distress on the part of the victim.
But hey, that just played into the part of the story where Lot and Abraham had to stop fighting and share instead.
Once the first floor was set to rights, the kids wanted to know what else we were doing to get ready for our trip. I said that Abraham must have been excited to go too, but first…he took a bath!
Upstairs we went with nary a tear.
(Look. I realize Genesis never says he took a bath. But, it also never said he didn’t. I like to think God allows a certain level of exegesis flexibility to mothers of toddlers who are trying to lay a biblical foundation but also need to con kids into cooperating.)
The kids are napping now (the “pre-trip rest”) and are so excited for this afternoon: We’re ending the day with a family sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and the kids get to sleep in their special tents. Just like Abraham.
This is all in service to a sneaky Mom goal: We’re taking the kids on their first ever road trip + overnight stay this Thanksgiving to see family. Sleeping anywhere other than their regular beds so far has only ended in tears, tantrums, and regrets. I don’t expect tonight to be much different, but here’s hoping a few practice runs will make the difference.