Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stepping Stones

Sometimes I write because I have a story to tell.
Sometimes I write to express my opinion.
And sometimes I do both.

Tuesday was probably the last nice day of the year. When you live in the Midwest you don't take 70 degree days for granted on November 1st. So after I picked the youngest 3 up from school I mandated we play outside until dinner.

So we jumped (ok, they jumped) on the trampoline (I've had 5 kids - hellooooo!), took the dog for a walk and piled up the leaves for a hearty round of leaf jumping. Within seconds someone almost poked their eye out due to a hidden, wayward stick so the fun promptly ended. But I was on a lawn cleansing role. That's why I got out the leaf blower and enjoyed sending all the leaves into the neighbor's yard. Ok, not quite but I was moving leafy debris and a rapid (and impressive) rate.

That's about the time the twins cornered me.
"Mom! MOM! Mmmmmom! Can we make a craft? Pleeeeeease?"

Pause story:

I love crafts. I'm a creative sort and so I'm usually up for the occasional latch hook rug (circa 1980) or color-by-numbers doggie portrait. However the twins wanted to make stepping stones. You know stepping stones. As in plaster paris. Also known as a mess. MESS!

Now side story:

Hidden in the darkest, cobwebb-iest corner of the basement was 2 forgotten (I thought!) boxes of 'Make Your Own Stepping Stone' kits that they received for their birthday 3 months ago. Hidden.
Far, far away.

No mother in her right mind willingly makes anything with plaster paris.

In fact, I've been a mother for 16 years and never have I ever bought, used or created something with plaster paris. And I was proud of that streak until yesterday.

Back to story: So Mother of the Year that I am, I brushed the twins off, "Sure girls! When I'm done blowing the leaves we can get the box out."

Unfortunately on this occasion (as opposed to any/every other day in our lives) they waited patiently and didn't get sidetracked. They sat on the front porch with the kits on their laps, staring at me with those big hazel eyes until I got done.

Nothing inside of me wanted to make these stepping stones. Nothing. But I knew if I told them "No!" it was more out of selfish ambition than the sacrificial love parents are supposed to have for their kids.

Now, before you engrave my name on that (reinstated) Mother of the Year trophy let me be clear....I don't always (or hardly ever) give into my kids demands. When you are a family of our size (7!) life is a
Dinner-Or-Go-Hungry lifestyle.

And about that, I am not making it up!

I had a maternal instinct at this moment when I knew I would be crushing the little twinkies if I denied them the chance to play with their birthday present (which is completely different than crushing my kids  for the greater good for the sake of the family). And even though I would have rather plucked my eyeballs out with a used Popsicle stick, I knew this was a critical moment in my parenting career.

So, we dove in. And let's just cut the story short and let me tell you right now it was a disaster. And lest you think I might be exaggerating lemme assure you, I'm not. Proof in point: the kit came with a mask and gloves! Can you imagine? A mask and gloves? Because this children's toy is lethal. Are you freakin kidding me??

Yet, I supervised their creativity. They glittered. They beaded and gemmed the mold.
And then a spider joined us.
And then Bell screamed
and jumped
and bumped Abby's creation tossing it completely over.

Near tears, Abby, at the mature age of 7, surprisingly held it together. She wiped her tears and began to re-create her masterpiece. 15 (long) minutes later she was pleased again with her work of art. And 16 minutes later Bell's knee bumped the table only to upset Abby's mold for a second time.

The whole scenario, my twins wearing haz mat masks, covered in glitter, on the last nice day of the year and Abby in tears was enough to make me want to guzzle an entire bottle of headache medicine (without a glass of wine water).  This was an official disaster.

And yet it was about to get worse.

When I went to open the bag of plaster mix I did so with the grace of a preschooler and a bag of flour. The plaster paris exploded all over

(wait for it.....)


I am not kidding. Covered from hair to toe in the fine white toxic dust was my little girl. Her creation had been wrecked. Twice. And now her mother effectively baptized her in plaster paris.

Not our finest day.

Somehow we made it through the remainder of the craft. I mixed the goo and we filled the molds. We set the creations inside the garage for safe keeping and I promised we would check them after school tomorrow.

Suddenly I was ready for bed. What? It's only 4:30 say?


So today rolls around and the twins check their molds as soon as we get home. Gently I loosened the dried stepping stones and viola! Success!
My hard work and efforts was worth it! I mean their hard work and effort was worth it!
The smiles on their little faces were priceless.
I sent them to the picnic table to paint their molds knowing they'd be occupied, safe and content to create.


victory can be so sweet!

5 point 5 seconds later Bell came tearing into the house, "Abby needs you outside quick, Mom!"

victory can be so short lived!

Abby's stepping stone had shattered.
"Abby" I said, "what in the world happened?"
"I stepped on it!"

She stepped on her stepping stone and it broke.
Stepped. Stepping stone.

I gathered Abby up in my arms and we headed inside where I held her for the longest time. She sobbed. Her little body wracked with pain as she wailed over a project that was doomed from it's inception.

And I never felt sadder. My heart was literally broken -not unlike her stepping stone and instantly I knew again I was on the verge of another HUGE parenting decision.

What would that be? Well, this entry is long enough... so tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of Stepping Stone.

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