The Twenty-Fourth Chart (Spurts)

January 6, 2012

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last week, readers!

We spent the first half of New Year’s Day at home, and after showering that morning I changed into a comfortable set of pajamas.  I keep these pajamas for those days when I know I’m staying home; they’re certainly not for wearing in public.  The pants are at least five years old, and while the shirt is relatively new it’s too casual for socializing.

When I came downstairs after my shower, Five apprised my outfit.

“Mama, why are you wearing those pajamas?”

“Because I’m not going anywhere,” I said.  “These are my stay-at-home clothes.”

Five seemed incredibly intrigued that I had a separate “outfit” just for staying in, but it’s more about practicality than anything else.  I like to keep my outside clothes as clean as possible, and when I’m at home I want to feel I’m at home.  Being properly dressed always lends to me a sense of restlessness because I know I’ll be leaving the house within a span of minutes or hours.

Of course, that’s not to say I’ve never ventured outside of the house in these stay-at-home outfits.  The one exception to my “only wearing these clothes inside” rule I make is for the morning drive to school.  With winter in full force, I figure no one will be able to see my grungy look when I’m covered in a heavy coat and wearing gloves and (when it’s cold enough) ear muffs.  So yesterday morning before school I got the kids dressed and sent them downstairs to their grandfather for breakfast.  After making the last of the beds, I changed out of my nightgown into an “indoor” outfit—a sweatshirt and a very old pair of pajama pants.

I came downstairs and as I rounded the corner of the bookcase in our living room and entered the kitchen, Five looked at me.

“Oh, so you’re going to stay at home and Papa is going to drive us to school,” she concluded out loud, stating a situation that has happened several times since the school year has started.

“No, dear, Papa went to the hospital.  I’m driving you to school today.”

“Then why are you wearing your inside clothes?”

I blinked once and then remembered our conversation from the weekend.

“Well, since I’m just driving to school and not getting out of the car, I think it’s okay to wear my inside clothes…right?”

She considered that for a moment and then grinned and nodded.  Thank goodness.  Of course I imagine that when she’s 15 and not five anymore, this conversation might take a slightly different direction.

***

I’m so proud of Three for mastering potty training.  Now we’re working on mastering the art of flushing.

She’ll do it without hesitation, but she usually needs a reminder.  Of course for the most part a grownup still accompanies her to the bathroom just to check on her and make sure she’s okay.  And the accompanying grownup will remind Three to flush because she still occasionally forgets.  When she realizes her oversight, she giggles at herself and scoots next to the toilet and reaches for the handle.  With three adults in the house, we usually don’t have a hard time tracking when Three needs to pee.

But once in a while she’ll slip by someone and will reappear five minutes later, and no one will know where she went until the next person goes to use the bathroom.  Because she forgot to flush.

We’ve made such a big deal about the fact that “big girls” use the bathroom and “babies” wear diapers and Pull-Ups, I figured it was time to use the baby items to threaten—uh, I mean, encourage Three to remember to flush when she’s done with her business and getting herself dressed again.  I’ve told her more than once, “If you forget to flush, then I’ll take out your old Pull-Ups and make you wear them for the rest of the day and you won’t be allowed to use the bathroom.”

I know, gross, right?  But that’s exactly the same reaction she’s given me and it’s been enough to scare her into remembering to flush.  Most of the time.

During the weekend we’d gone out after “Quiet Time” (the kids’ naptime/rest time) and spent most of the afternoon/evening out.  When we came home and it was time to get ready for bed, Five went to the bathroom she shares with her sister and came out scrunching her nose.

“Someone forgot to flush,” she said, the disgust fully evident on her face.

My husband cornered Three who fully admitted to the mistake, and he reminded her of my threat: forget to flush again, and she’d have to wear Pull-Ups for the rest of the day.

As I moved between bedrooms turning down beds and straightening blankets, I heard the tone of Three’s voice in her response to the admonition but the actual words didn’t register in my brain.

“Do you hear this?” my husband called from the bathroom as he helped our younger daughter brush her teeth before bed.  “We’re the meanest people in the world.”

“What?” I asked with a frown as I went to the bathroom and stood in the doorway.

“That’s what she said,” he told me, fighting with all his might the urge to smile.  “We’re the meanest people in the world.”

I looked at Three.  “What did you say?”

“Mean,” she responded quietly.

In all frankness, I had no idea how to respond so I let me frown suffice for the minute and walked into our bedroom.  Where I couldn’t help smiling myself.  Weren’t we supposed to hit the tween years before I started hearing that declaration of being one of the meanest people on earth?

***

On Wednesday Five had her dance class, and because dance class for both girls comes after school in the later afternoon (Three goes on Tuesdays) I like to keep dinner uncomplicated and as fast as possible.  I had some leftover pasta from the night before, but I thought I’d make the kids happy and whip up some macaroni and cheese for them.  I’ve been able to find a brand called “Back to Nature” that makes mac and cheese with 100 percent whole wheat pasta and organic cheese powder.  These sorts of discoveries make my cardiologist husband very happy.

No matter how tired the girls are, they have a few dinner favorites that they’ll practically inhale in about 10 minutes.  One of them is pizza from Papa Murphy’s.  Another is veggie lo mein from our favorite local Chinese haunt.  And the third is mac and cheese.  So it didn’t surprise me when the girls finished long before the adults did and ran off to play before bedtime.

After about five minutes of play, Five marched her younger sister to the half-bath powder room just off the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” I called, wanting to make sure a crazy water game wasn’t about to take place (they’ve been known to do it before.)

Both kids came back out of the bathroom.

“I’m washing her face,” Five said with slight indignation.  “Just look at her face,” she added, holding up her hand and indicating her sister’s lips still spackled with some cheese.

I looked and Three’s face did, in fact, need washing.

“Okay,” I said, turning back to my own plate and hiding a smile in it.

When did Five become such a little mother hen?  Of course, the fact that she volunteered to wash Three’s face doesn’t surprise me.  From the time Three was born, Five has slipped as easily into the role of older sister/protector/mentor/best friend as one would into a pair of socks.  Except she never takes off her mantle, choosing instead to wrap herself in it so tightly that all one sees is her love for baby sister—who is no longer a baby.  And her sister adores her.

Of all the aspects of their relationship, I enjoy this one the most.  It really warms my heart to see them play and laugh together or hug for absolutely no reason at all, and I hope they can enjoy this sistership for the rest of their lives.

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