You won’t find a mermaid in this lagoon.

Life with many children is filled with wonderful moments. It is also filled with difficult ones. The problem is, you never know which moment you will get.

Quick as a wink, my day can fall completely to pieces. I can be swimming along peacefully, backstroking through a thick fog of tranquility, and the very next instant all hell can break loose. I’m not sure why that happens so swiftly, but I do know this: it catches me off guard every single time.

Take yesterday for example.

Mr. Diaz loaded up our giant van and hauled our oldest children down to the car wash. He didn’t do this because he’s a super awesome dad who wants to spend a few extra moments with our dear offspring. Nor did he do this because our children like sitting in an enclosed space while giant soapy brushes slap and lick the sides of a vehicle that’s roughly the size of a barge.

Nah.

He took them to the car wash because he needed bodies to hold towels over the windows in the back of the van where there are leaks. I can’t blame him for this. What did we have children for anyway if not to do mundane, Red-nex-ican tasks like that one?

Meanwhile, I was back in my kitchen loading the dishwasher and the other five children were occupied and quiet.  Every parent knows “Occupied and Quiet” is a summons for disaster. Sure enough, Squidgy baby began to cry, flailing and wailing while flopping in the jump-a-roo.

Suddenly, a scream pierced the stillness and I immediately knew it was my 2 year old, Chatterbox Toddler. I scurried down the hallway to the playroom and he ran up to my legs and clutched them as tightly as a modish purse snatcher holds onto a Kate Spade.

“Owwww,” he sobbed through his big tears, “Head owwwwwy,” 

Chatterbox Toddler was wet. He had a blossoming red welt where he had conked his noggin. He held onto me and screeched his dysphoria -a cacophony now mixed with the sounds of a wailing baby back in the living room.

I noticed my wood floors were wet too, as if a preschooler spilled a gallon of water and attempted to mop it up by using the least absorbent material on the planet, which in this case was an old baby quilt. Instead of the spill being soaked up, it spread the liquid from one side of the floor clear to the other.

A slight movement from the back of the room caught my eye.

Our resident preschooler, Humdinger, stood there stark naked and frozen in place; one leg lifted up in the air and ready to go into a pair of underwear. He had been quickly trying to change into dry clothes. It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. Humdinger had masterfully created his very own ‘Slip-n-Slide’. From his pee. And his brother had involuntarily taken the first ride.

I can’t really say what coursed through my mind in the next few moments.

I bear vague memories of solemn, sincere prayers to Jesus Christ and perhaps the thoughts of mild profanity. Three kids were vociferously bawling; the very angry baby back in the living room, the naked preschooler holding one leg up through a pair of faded Batman underpants (who then did a perfect swan dive into a naked flop-tantrum across the cold floor). And, of course, the still-screaming toddler who had just been the first contestant on his brother’s low budget version of “Wipe Out.”

The real tragedy for the toddler was not the loss of dignity after a brief glide in his brother’s tinkle. No. What really upset him was the tragic loss of a beloved banana he had mashed into the floor with his legs as he fell.

Moving quickly, I abandoned the semi-creamed banana, left it bobbing in Urine Lagoon and hauled the toddler up to the bath for a quick rinse.

As is normal in my house, a tranquil afternoon had unraveled in a matter of moments.

A protesting Humdinger was forced against his will to get fully dressed in clean, dry clothing. The baby was forced against her will to wait out her bounteous troubles inside a jumpy manufactured to look like an absurd rain-forest. The toddler was forced against his will to abandon his favorite fruit. And I was rudely forced against my will to get down on tired hands and knees and mop the entire floor before other children ran into the room exclaiming “Hey! A free banana! That looks delicious!”  

45 minutes later, the baby was wiped, changed and dozing peacefully. The preschooler was occupied with a giant floor puzzle that still magically retained all the pieces, and the toddler had been awarded the consolation prize of a few crackers to snack on. With the crisis handled, the chaos of the afternoon slowly faded back down into a lull.

Mr. Diaz returned shortly with several children, wet towels, and a sparkling clean van that had been washed on the inside as well as the outside.

A kid, who heard the van pull up, sprinted into the house from the backyard where he’d been playing. He kicked off his muddy boots, threw down his dirty coat and peed right there on the floor.

It shouldn’t be surprising.

Around here, windows aren’t the only things that leak.

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Poop-Skittles and mustard shots

Now seems like as good a time as any to introduce you to my three-and-a-half year old, Humdinger. He adds quite a lot of spunk (and copious amounts of pee) to our house and I will try to paint an accurate word picture to portray his personality.  Humdinger is aptly named because the right words to correctly explain him do not exist. He’s cute. He’s indescribable.

He’s naked.

Mutiple times a day I hear myself vocalizing utterly ridiculous phrases to this kid such as:

“It’s not polite to eat lunch naked,”

“You may not get into the wagon when you have no clothes on,”

“No, the mailman is not naked too,”

“You do NOT want to go feed the chickens without underpants on. TRUST me,” or

“It’s not okay to squat and shake yourself. In the kitchen.” 

For whatever reason, the kid is well-nigh a nudist. Which is unacceptable. Because I’m not sure he’s all that great at wiping.

This little corker is always doing crazy things. Recently I came downstairs from feeding Squidgy and I heard Mr. Diaz call out to me “Hey, come watch this.”  So I walked into the kitchen and saw Humdinger standing atop a tall empty Costco-sized salsa container, covered in sink bubbles and doing shots of yellow mustard. Yes.

Eating it.

Naked.

Who knocks back mustard-shots while naked? And isn’t roaring drunk?

Humdinger does.

Mr. Diaz was squirting it directly into his mouth from the bottle. And Humdinger loved it. Heck, I wish he liked clothing as much as he seems to adore yellow mustard.

Humdinger is also at the tail end of toilet training. This has taken an unusually long time. After endless months of rewards, charts, clapping, discipline, cheering, begging and whining (that was me) and an endless supply of skittles, he is finally not pooping his pants.

“WHAT pants?” You’re asking, “I thought he doesn’t wear pants.” 

Exactly.

The road I’ve traveled to get this kid on the pot has been long and rough and paved with Skittles. Then the unthinkable happened. The cow dried up and the skittles ran out.  In order not to rock the world Humdinger lives in after the progress we made (because that gets ugly), we reluctantly resorted to offering the only candy we had in the house that was leftover piñata bounty from a recent company picnic. NOW every time he poops, instead of two skittles, he’s getting two good-sized chocolate coins. Humdinger has brilliantly figured out that if he eeks out the tiniest remnant of poop possible, he’ll get two chocolates. Less than an hour later he creates a few more nuggets and gets even more candy. He’s currently gorking down 8 pieces of candy before breakfast, and I’m getting played.

I can well imagine that look in your eye. No doubt you’re thoroughly impressed by my wicked awesome parenting skills right now. What can I say? I have been manipulated by a 3-year-old nudist who has a hankering for chocolate and yellow mustard.

I love this moppet. Our lives would be rather dull without his crazy shenanigans. At night I sneak into his room, see his tiny unclad body, and I tiptoe to his bedside and whisper into his ear “I love you. You are original. There’s no one like you. You’re my very favorite child.”

And you know what?

It’s totally true.