Like Five-Year-Olds Dating.

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Noah and Loulie have been close since they met. She’s the Girl One Street Up, he’s the dashing gentleman with the giant blue eyes.

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(She’s got some pretty fantastic blue eyes herself, so my grandkids are going to look AMAZING.)

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Noah often makes plans for their future, as in this conversation:

“I am a boy so I can’t get a baby in my belly, but Loulie might when I marry her….so I won’t get to name a baby.”

“Who will name the baby then?”

“Loulie. Because it’s in her tummy.”

Their relationship has also weathered many storms. From The Grasshopper Incident, to Loulie making long-term pet decisions that Noah didn’t approve of, to the daily storm that is the mixture of their quite assertive personalities.

When we (myself and Loulie’s Mom Not-Crazy-Renee, in case you haven’t made that connection yet,) first began to get together to let them play, we were amazed at how well they imagined together. They could carry out these long, detailed, impossibly thick plotlines in their games of “Mommy/Daddy” or “Octonauts” or “Mommy/Daddy Octonauts” that astounded us. We couldn’t begin to follow their plots, but both of them understood them so intrinsically – as if their imaginations were somehow syncing with a USB cable that we couldn’t see. Or maybe they can AirDrop. All we knew is, they were a perfect playmate match.

That was at first.

Now they act like an extraordinarily grouchy old married couple that require quite a bit of refereeing as they assertively snap at each other and demand that their game get played next.

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Where has the romance gone?

We’re not sure, but we’ve considered trying to rekindle it with a Get Along Shirt.

I mean, how awesome of a wedding slideshow picture would that make?

But alas. In the meandering pathway of their relationship, we have tried to give them ample opportunities to really get to know one another better.

One of those opportunities is that Loulie goes to Cubbies with us every Wednesday night – the Scout-Like three and four year old class at our church.

This weekly date has provided fantastic photo opportunities, such as missions night, when every kid is supposed to dress up from another country.

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(I won’t tell you how many threats it took to get Noah to sit by Loulie AND smile for a picture, But that seemingly-adoring smile on her face is really just clinched teeth at his refusal to cooperate.)

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(And his hands are tightly behind his back because although the thought of No iPad for a week could cajole a smile, it could NOT convince him to put his arm around his adorable friend. There are limits, you know.)

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Despite Noah’s refusal to show his affection in the moment, he did tell Chris later that night that “I dressed up from Greece and Loulie dressed up as an Indian. But she didn’t look like an Indian, she looked like a Princess.”

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Noah wasn’t wrong. In fact, when I showed Chris the pictures later, Loulie immediately reminded him of one of his favorite childhood princesses.

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(And can we take a minute to appreciate Loulie’s Henna Tattoos? Practical girl that she is, she told everyone they were really just done with a brown marker. But no matter. They were amazing.)

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But aside from their actual Cubbie dates (Chris has pointed out that Noah is the only pre-k playah that is bringing a date to Cubbies every single week), it’s the conversations that occur in the backseat on the way to and from Cubbies where the real magic happens.

For some reason, the first couple of weeks included a lot of conversations about the various ways you can die, all presented by my two children, and all shot down by Loulie.

Because, as we quickly learned would be a theme in our conversations with her, she refuses to believe anything, ever, unless her mother has previously told her it as fact.

“If you fall out of a roller coaster you can die.”

“No you can’t. My Mommy has never told me that.”

“Well, you can die in a race car.”

“I can NOT believe you.”

“Did you know you can die if you drink too much water?”

“Come ON, guys. Why do you keep telling me things I DO NOT believe?!”

As I was getting out of the car to pump gas, I heard my children try to convince Loulie that TNT is real. And, of course, can kill you.

I suggested they talk about something other than things related to death, and when I got back in the car, was relieved when Loulie bouncingly informed me that they talked about great things and that “everyone topicipated in conversation!”

The next week, Noah tried to work in a smooth nickname in her direction.

“Hey Lou, are you excited about Cubbies tonight?”

As adorable as his attempt was, it was shot down and followed by a very indignant five minute speech about how her name was Loulie, or Lousana, but it was NOT Lou. And no one could call her Lou because it was NOT her name.

That same night, I had to send a text to Renee to let her know that if the phrases “overheated underwear” or “heated over underwear” got used in her home, to please blame the ride to church. Because when you can’t talk about death, there are really just not many subjects left.

One week on the way to Cubbies, we decided to take a quick hike. I had underestimated the professional-level hikers that I have turned my children into, but Loulie was well aware. Running on trails with large rocks and roots was not easy for her, and she kept becoming frustrated as my kids would sprint ahead, and she’d find herself flat on the trail.

Finally, she indignantly told me, “I am really mad at these roots. Maybe you shouldn’t come to this park anymore because there are so many roots and they are dangerous for children!!”

Noah, who happened to still be nearby, kicked the root for her. Just like a gentleman.

(She has since risen to professional levels of hiking herself, thanks to some tips from her gentleman friend.)

But despite all of his attempts to progress their relationship, ultimately, it came down to this conversation.

Noah: “I’m going to stay in my house forever. I’m going to buy it.”

Loulie: “I’m going to live somewhere different but next door to my family.”

Noan: “Wait, wait, wait. I already told you a long time ago I’m going to marry you.”

Loulie: “I already decided a long time ago I’m going to marry my little brother Jonas.”

Noah: “You can’t marry someone in your family. Ali told me that.”

Loulie: “Anyway, if you want to marry me you have to ask Jason and Renee first and then the mommy gets to say whether she wants to marry you or not.”

Noah: “No, I said I’m going to marry you. I didn’t ask.”

Loulie: “Well, I decided I’m going to marry my little brother Jonas so the answer is no.”

So, I guess that’s that. The future may be dim, but the present is very, very bright.

The Perils of Standing Up.

It took weeks of parental foot-putting-down for us to convince Noah to stand up to pee.

He liked sitting down just fine and saw no reason to stand, thank you very much. Lazy peeing is good peeing.

And finally, when out of sheer obedience he would stand, he would inch closer and closer to the toilet until his thighs were front-hugging the toilet in a most uncomfortable-to-watch level of familiarity.

I prayed against so many toilet façade germs during those weeks of bowl-sidling, but was, I suppose, somewhat grateful that there was NO WAY the kid could possibly miss the toilet. Because when giving a thigh massage to a toilet, one cannot have bad aim.

So there’s that.

But eventually he moved on from his intimate relationship with toilet bowls and seemed to have a decent relationship with the the act of urination – there was no toilet contact, and his aim was 99% accurate. I felt like I had succeeded in training him up in the way that he should go.

Until last Thursday night.

Noah and I had just arrived at small group at a friend’s house – Chris and Ali were coming separately after stopping by the store. Things didn’t start out well for Noah. We walked in the door, and his very-excited three-year-old friend Abigail ran around the corner, screaming Noah’s name.

Ever the dainty little lady, she tackled him with the power of an Alabama National Championship Linebacker in the hug of the century. He immediately fell backward onto the floor, at which point the gigantic dog, a creature that Noah carefully crafts his life around avoiding, jumped on top of the poor child and began licking his face.

I sifted through the dogpile of dog and Abigail to rescue my flattened son, then safely delivered him to a chair.

Where Abigail followed.

“I’m going to color you a picture, Noah! Look! Coloring!”

…At which point Abigail’s older sister, Caroline, came in and abruptly pointed out that the picture in question was her picture and it was not to be colored on by smaller hands nor given to houseguests.

This was an altogether devastating turn of events for Abigail, and in the same passion with which she had she greeted Noah, she wailed her sorrow into our ears over her lack of coloring muse.

Noah and I quickly exited the room to give her some space.

I found a quiet spot in the living room, and Noah headed to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, more friends arrived for small group. Passing by the bathroom on their way to the living room, they were able to detect faint calls that sounded like my son.

“Noah’s calling for you.”

I got up and walked toward the door skeptically.

“No, he’s calling for Daddy. Which means he doesn’t really need me – he just wants Chris to wipe his butt because Chris will and Noah knows I’m retired from the butt-wiping business.”

But, to end the nonstop yells for Daddy, who was not even there, I opened the bathroom door.

And I stared.

Words formed, but they couldn’t leave my lips.

Then they did.

“HOLY CRAP okay he does need me.”

Noah turned his head toward me from where he was standing in front of the toilet, and offered explanation.

“I had to tee-tee and I had to poop too and I tried to keep my bottom closed while I tee-teed….but it all just came out.”

And out indeed had it come. He was on his last of ten days of antibiotics, which always gives him a healthy dose of what he refers to as “water poops.”

Except in the case of what was in front of me at that moment, it was more like Fifteen Cans of Hormel Chili Poops.

It was like a blender set on liquify and left on all day. With the lid off.

It was like a Hershey’s Factory caught in a heat wave.

It was a Venti Mocha Crappuccino with an extra shot.

It was on his legs. On his pants. On his feet. There were three separate piles on my friend’s bathroom floor. And there appeared to be a freshly formed river flowing through all of the crevices of his underwear.

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It’s definitely one of those moments in life where you don’t know exactly where to start. But you know that the only way you’re going to accomplish the task at hand is to just pick an area and start rowing.

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I chose the floor, since it was the one thing affected that did not belong to me.

But first, I needed proof of what I was about to do on behalf of Chris, the parent that had actually been summoned to the scene. So I took a picture. A picture that I will not show you. Because it is an image that I will see every time I walk into my friend’s bathroom for the rest of my life and you do not need to carry that burden.

But it was roughly like…

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I grabbed some toilet paper and began trying to sop up the piles of butt pudding coating the floor.

Noah took exception to my strategies. “Mom!! It’s on my feet!!’

“It’s on EVERYTHING, son. I’m getting to it.”

Then he became paranoid about the situation becoming more complicated. “Mom!! Don’t put so much toilet paper in the toilet! It’s going to STOP UP!”

“Well can you reach it to flush?”

He carefully leaned forward and began flushing the toilet after every other wipe-and-dump.

(Sorry, dear homeowners, if your water bill is high this month. And also I owe you a roll and a half of toilet paper. And a new house.)

I removed defecation from the floor and pertinent parts of Noah, then carefully had him swivel and get up on the toilet so that I could get to the fronts of his legs and his pants.

And I was traumatized all over again.

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When I got the full picture of that Hungarian Goulash dripping from every inch his garments, I nearly lost my ability to parent. Ever. Again.

Then I took another picture.

My next order of business was containing his underwear river before it got turned sideways and became a waterfall.

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I took the trash bag out of the trash can and carefully shimmied it up and over Noah’s pants, praying to God for protection of my hands. Then I removed the tragedy and tied up the trash bag.

Only later, after Noah was happily asleep, did I wonder what pants I had thrown away. Were they new? Old? Did they fit? Were they too small?

But it didn’t matter in the moment. They could have been Gold-Encrusted hand-me-downs from Prince George himself and I would have tossed them without a thought. The only thing that mattered in that moment is that the wasteland formerly known as clothes be contained in airtight plastic.

As I was performing this delicate operation, Noah said, “I’m so sad. I want to be playing right now.”

I looked up from squeegying poo off of his legs and felt sorrow for him.

For just a second.

But then I remembered that I was in the process of squeegying poo that did not belong to me.

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Meanwhile, Chris and Ali showed up. Since we put our kids to bed at small group, this meant that I now had someone to yell for to get Noah’s pajamas and fresh underwear out of his bag. And also find some cleaning supplies.

Chris came with clothing and Clorox wipes. I yelled for him to leave them outside the door. The scene was so bad that I simultaneously didn’t want to have to subject him to it (except via picture, later) and I felt the need to yell for him to hear me through the lava filling the bathroom due to the erupted anus volcano.

I Cloroxed the floor. Then Cloroxed it again. Then looked at the giant brown stains on Noah’s legs – brown stains I’d been furiously rubbing with toilet paper. And I Cloroxed my son’s legs.

I immediately felt guilty about putting the world’s harshest chemical (in wipe form, but still) directly on my child’s skin, so I yelled for Chris to bring me paper towels. I moistened them and scrubbed the chemicals from his tender little legs.

I still felt guilty (and despite the Clorox I also felt that my son was infinitely unclean), so I shoved him in his pajamas and sent him to find his father to find a bathtub and re-clean everything below the child’s waist.

But right before Noah left the bathroom, one of the countless children yelled “I think he’s with the dog!!”

Noah, naturally thinking they were missing and trying to locate him, yelled back, “I’m not with the dog -I’m in the bathroom! I just….pooped a little.”

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