Last week due to Hurricane Dean, we had a lot of rain. A week of rain indoor with four preschoolers. Admit it, you're jealous. It was late Friday afternoon, the kids were stir crazy, the mom was stir crazy, the dad was working from home and wanting the stir crazy kids and mom to be relatively quiet while he took a conference call. I took the trash out and called the kids into the garage to watch the rain. We all stood gazing at the water coming down, only slightly less bored, when memories suddenly flooded back to me from childhood. Some really happy summertime memories.
The next thing I heard coming out of my mouth was, "Hey, ya'll wanna go play in the rain?" Eva Rose and Shepherd both gave me perplexed, concerned looks that said ooo, Mommy dear, I'm not sure that's the responsible thing to do. But I have this other daughter, who at 20 months is already the tree hugger flower child of the group, and Maggie booked it straight out into the showers. Didn't have to tell her twice. She looked up and around at the water falling down, positively glowing, stamping her little feet in the water, and occasionally squealing with joy. She is so awesome! Look at her!
Once her little sister was out there, Eva Rose decided it must be ok, and soon experienced the same elation.
Shep, however, had some hangup about his shoe and we were already in the street before he got it together and joined us, hence, no pictures of the boy.
In front of our home, my mind went back to when I was a little girl, sitting in the puddles of rain by the curb, loving how warm the water was as I would run the soft mud through my fingers. Now, as the mud ran through my grownup toes, it felt exactly the same way. I thought to myself, Good grief, you could not pay me to sit in this big warm disgusting stew of microbes! What was my mom thinking? Obviously she wasn't thinking and I am lucky not to have gotten some horrid intestinal infection. How any of us survived the 70s I just don't know.
The children and I walked into the middle of the street, they still delighting in this crazy idea of their mom's, and I looked at the gushing water, actually flowing pretty fast to the gutters one house over. A horrible image suddenly flashed through my mind's eye of my children being swept right down the drains! I could just envision it. Horrors. It happens - occasionally you hear on the news about some child going down into the storm sewers. I looked closer and sure enough, no grate. And that opening is definitely big enough for a toddler to slip through. Terrific, another gauntlet for my child to avoid. Ok, gotta be proactive. Go on the offensive and tell Shep that he is never, ever to get near the gutters. But what if pointing them out to him only intrigues him? Ok, then, gotta make it really scary.
"Shepherd. Do you see those things? They are called gutters. They are very very dangerous. If you go near them you could get so hurt you have to go to the hospital and get a shot. And you'll get a Daddy Spanking. So don't ever go near them. Ok?" There. That should do it.
His eyes lit up. His face got that look of wonder and excitement. "Why I got to not go near dem, Mom?" Oh, crap. Crap crap crap.
"Because Mommy said you could get hurt. REALLY hurt. Have to go to the hospital. And keep your sisters away too. They could drown. They are very very dangerous. You hear me?"
Shep blinked several times, was silent for a moment, and then said, "Why I can't go near the grutters Mom?"
"Because there are monsters that live down there and they like to eat little boys."
I've crossed the line. I have lied to my child.
My mom says she only lied to me twice in my life: when she told me and my brother that she would only buy us Cheerios because all the other cereals were way more expensive, and when she told me that if I left my washcloth wadded up in the bathtub, that cockroaches would come hide underneath it. As for the second lie, once when I was in college, I picked up my wadded up washcloth and a cockroach DID scamper out from underneath it - so was she really lying? Ethically, she is guilty, but with a good lawyer...Anyhow, the fact that she can specifically recall her two instances of deceit indicates that she felt guilty over it, and you know what, it didn't even work. We still begged for the sugary cereal and obviously I never learned to hang up my washcloth (I do hang it up now. Usually.)
Shepherd got a quiet for a few minutes, took my hand, and we started to walk away from the gutters. The four of us waded in the puddles all along the cul-de-sac, splashed, sang, thanked God for the rain, discussed the ethical prohibitions and potential legal ramifications associated with looking in all the neighbors' mailboxes. As we came back toward our driveway, Shepherd gave a long look at the gutters and then looked up at me. "I can kill the monsters Mom. Me and Jesus, we kill the monsters together. Jesus gonna help me. Jesus is bigger than the monsters."
Anybody got a good response to that one??
Oh what a tangled web I weave...had I never mentioned the 'grutters' he would have never noticed the 'grutters' and never become fixated on the 'grutters.'
So I pray, again: Dear Jesus who is bigger than the monsters, please protect my children from - ME.