…and snot and dirt and poop and spit and dog hair and puke. THAT’s what little boys are really made of.
So we have these two little boys, aged 3 (Z) and 4 (K), hanging out with us for a week. We’re doing a bit of respite care for their current foster parents. You can see that these two aren’t really used to structure or rules or listening, and of course, there is the obligatory testing on top of that. From the descriptions we heard of their recent history, the foster parents have really brought them a long way already – thank goodness, or we might really have struggled with them. As it is, “Okay, Time Out” is the most frequently uttered phrase in the house this week.
We are learning not to hit our brothers with sticks, or hit them with rocks, or hands, or survey flags, or goat poop, or crab apples, or feet. We are also learning not to hit the dogs with hands, feet, sticks, poo, flags, or apples. In addition, we are learning not to throw things at goats, or chickens, including apples, poo, flags, rocks, sticks, or anything else you could possibly think of to pick up and throw. We are learning not to eat ice out of disgusting rain barrels that have not been cleaned all summer, and we are learning not to throw ice at Aunties, brothers, dogs, goats, cats, and / or chickens. We are learning not to touch the very dead and half-decapitated mouse the cat left on the driveway, but that it is okay to poke said very dead mouse with sticks. Whew!
They are cute when they’re sleeping, though. And also when they are running around outside, gathering fallen crab apples by the house to run over to the goat yard to feed the goats and chickens, one apple at a time. The trick is to only let them pick a dozen or so into the bucket, then get them to race each other to the goat yard, feed the critters, and race each other back. An hour of that guarantees at least ten minutes of quiet play afterwards…
It is interesting to listen to them when they are playing with each other without adult direction. You can immediately hear exactly what you have been telling them, just like little record players. “Look at me, K. Look at me now, please.” or “Okay, time out for you!” or “Oh, you peed in the potty, good job, Z”. We’ve managed not to install any swear words into their vocabulary…yet…but it’s probably only a matter of time.
We try to run them really well in the afternoon, in the hopes of getting them to sleep with minimal fuss. The actual result has been the adults taking turns at afternoon naps. Of course, being typical little snotty bundles of contagion, the boys have now gotten us sick with whatever bug was making them drip goo – the bug, of course, just makes little boys drip goo and get whiny, but lays adults completely out, so on top of the regular surrogate-parent-exhaustion, we’re battling fevers and sore throats, too. Go figure.
Bedtime has been endlessly entertaining – after the fourteenth time K got up to pee last night, I told him that he was wearing pull-ups and could just march right back to bed and pee in the pull-ups if he really had to. My sister, who I was on the phone with at the time, was appalled – “Aren’t you trying to get them NOT to go in their diapers?” she asked – but really, I’d had enough of that particular tactic. When they were jumping on the bed and making a strobe light pajama party in the bedroom at 10:30 the first night I was less than impressed, as well. We really need separate rooms, or at least separate beds, to get them to go to sleep nicely. Or at least not poke each other and wind each other up and keep each other awake. We’ve taken to putting one or the other to sleep on the couch, then carrying them back into the bed when both are completely out. So far it’s working, or at least slightly less aggravating than listening to them jumping on the bed and mentally debating duct tape and / or Dimetapp.
On the bright side, they have eaten pretty much whatever we’ve set in front of them, despite whining that they ‘don’t like’ apples or yogurt or vegetable soup or whatever. Even when Hubby grabbed the wrong container of leftover soup from the fridge, and they got served ‘really spicy chicken’ instead of ‘nice bland vegetable’, they ate most of it. The elder one, K, complained that the ‘potatoes’ (turnips) were ‘too hot’, but when I told him to pick them out and eat the rest, he did. I am amazed I managed to keep a straight face through that one! Today, they were bottomless pits for the scrambled eggs they got for lunch, and they followed up with two full pieces of buttered toast each, plus a big glass of milk. Suddenly I am wondering if we fed them enough last night.
At any rate, Auntie needs a cup of tea and lemon, and Uncle probably needs a break, but I can tell you now that the first two days after these fellas go home, we’ll probably not even get out of bed…