I'm not sure why, but Christopher was smote with the brilliant idea to flush a small water bottle down the toilet while I was homeschooling Meaghan last week. Camille, his trusty side-kick, completed the disaster by throwing in the family's tube of Crest tooth paste.
You know, for good measure.
Patrick, who was working in the other room on his assignments, alerted me of the toilet clog as soon as he realized the two criminals... children were up to no good.
When I saw what they had done, I went berserk.
Coo-coo for Cocoa puffs.
And then I sent them both to their beds. For a long time.
John was out of town, so the toilet was out of commission until he returned home from his business trip and could deal with the commode conundrum. Over the weekend, he used a hangar and some elbow grease to fish the plastic container out of the clogged toilet, thus freeing us from a phone call (and a check) to Larry the Plumber.
I still get annoyed when I think about that clogged water bottle, though.
The thing is, flushing miscellaneous items like water bottles and tubes of tooth paste down the toilet is a very kid thing to do.
Christopher and Camille were probably playing outside at the picnic table, concocting Lego dream houses, when they started talking about the science behind a flushing toilet and "What exactly happens when you put a water bottle down there?"
Their inquiries led to experimentation and well, you get the drill.
I can't watch everyone all the time.
There are too many people with too many differing personalities existing in this house for me to manage each one of them every minute of every day. And so when the six and five year old are left together to brainstorm together, disaster may ... no, will occur.
As a mom to a larger brood, I find there are so many raging fires to put out, disagreements between siblings to address, and an overload of opportunities to correct bad behavior. It's kind of exhausting and I often wonder how I'm supposed to do it all--raise these kids and mold them into good, prayerful citizens and not lose my mind; Truth be told, I often think it's impossible to do both well (and really, I lost my mind around kid number four, maybe even earlier).
Last night on the drive home from soccer practice, Patrick was telling me about his school day when he announced,
"When you live in a big family, it builds character. You have to do more chores, you have to learn to get along with each other. There's more noise, it's harder to concentrate because it's so loud, and it's easier to get angry at everyone around you, but when you resist the temptation to be rude, you're building character."
After I picked my jaw up from the steering wheel because what Lo! such words of wisdom from my 11 year old, I thought about how Patrick was right:
This life John and I have created chisels us in a special way. Each day brings it's own special brand of chaos and joy, insanity and love.
The longer I plug away at this parenting thing, I realize the depths of my inherent selfishness, but also how my kids have actually saved me from plunging into its abysmal dregs.
I couldn't stay in bed all day and read my favorite books even if I wanted to because someone is flushing water bottles down the toilet, damn it!
I couldn't dine out several times a week because I have to supply well balanced nutrition for the serial eaters with whom I live.
I couldn't abandon myself to my own interests and pursuits because these kids always be needing me.
And while the selfish, ego-driven part of me moans and groans about these "losses", the part of me that wants to become a saint, is grateful.
Patrick nailed it: Managing these kids and this chaos builds much needed character.