Dirt. Dirt, dirt, dirt. When you garden, a certain amount of outside comes in. Fine. When you cook 2 to 3 meals a day on a stove (in pork fat, no less!) a certain amount of grease distributes in a fine layer over everything. So in my 7 years as a gardener and my lifetime as a cook, I have acquiesced to the reality of a dirty home (not messy – dirty) more times than I’d like.
But nothing prepared me for having a son.
My 13 month old is fast, dexterous, inquisitive and capable. These wonderful traits allow him to make messes faster than I can resolve them. In the time it takes me go ass-up long enough to throw all the books back in the book basket he can popper his way around the house a few times, upend a container of mentally stimulating toy options, find the only glass thing in the the entire tupperware drawer and beeline for the liquor cabinet. I’ll look up to find him 4 seconds away from juggling bourbon bottles and grinning at me like he knows he’s a sneaky little bugger.
True story: I went out with my son to the chicken coop to collect eggs a few days ago. There were two eggs. I set my son down, then placed the eggs on the soil of a raised bed while I opened the coop door and threw in a tub of kitchen scraps to the hens. I didn’t even go into the coop. By the time I had re-latched the coop (this entire process could not have taken more than 25 seconds,) the eggs were gone.
At first I thought I was crazy, and I checked the adjacent bed, thinking I had misremembered where I set them. But then I saw Oliver, toddling off as fast as his bow-legs could carry him. He did indeed have both eggs – one in each hand, and was heading for the concrete step that leads to the house. I reached him just as he started climbing the step, which entailed going down into a pseudo-crawl. As he brought his hands down against the step, I saw one egg crack slightly and reached down to rescue both before more damage could be done.
I got both eggs and Oliver inside safely and set the eggs on the counter. Since the one was cracked I figured I’d just cook both of them right then for breakfast. I hoisted a now crying Oliver up on my hip, turned to get the frying pan, and saw that in the moment between the boy-hoist and the pan-turn he had reached out, grabbed the non-cracked egg off the counter and dropped it – quite deliberately – on the floor.
He does things like this and then flashes me a meltingly adorable smile.
In the minute or two it took while I was cleaning up the egg splatter, my son had gotten two bowls and a colander out of a drawer and worked as hard as he could to rub the colander into the egg goo on the floor while alternately banging on and trying to climb the bowls.
Yeah, all kids make messes, I get that. When my daughter was 2 or 3, she sat on a swiveling stool in the kitchen with a carton of yogurt and a small glass of juice in front of her. I ran into the next room to answer the phone, chatted for a few minutes, and returned to the kitchen to see long, parabolic spatters of yogurt radiating from the stool like spokes in a wheel.
My daughter had dipped her spoon into the yogurt and flung it as hard as she could and as far as she could while rotating slowly on her stool. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Everything from the far end of the kitchen to the far end of the adjoining dining room was covered with a Jackson Pollack-esque display of strawberry-banana YoBaby.
As I returned to the kitchen, I witnessed one final yogurt fling. With this one, my daughter hit the juice glass and knocked the contents of the glass onto the keyboard of my open laptop.
That mess was a doozy, but it to my daughters credit she never flung anything that came from her diaper.
Oh, would that I could say that about my son.
Without going into details that may one day hurt my relationship with my boy, let me just say that the actions of my toddler son secure my belief in evolution and in a common simian ancestor between man and monkey. Also, there are way, way worse things to clean than yogurt on the cabinets.1