Lauren is just beginning to realize that when she sleeps, life still goes on without her and she really hates that. The boys and I have developed a game where each afternoon I tell them all that it's going to be nap time... for everyone. I wink at the boys, and they wink back. We clean up lunch and the boys run into their rooms, hop under their blankets and pretend to be asleep. Tiptoeing, I take Lauren to peek into her brother's room and show them to her as they lay there with grins and stiffled giggles, pretending to be asleep. And she totally buys it. I read her a story, tuck her in, and close the door to her room. Once the coast is clear the boys jump out of their beds and race downstairs to pack their backpacks with water, snacks, and bandaids, and slip out of the house while their sisters sleep. I give them my cell phone, reminding them that I'll be checking in on them every 20 minutes and not to talk to strangers or to go into anyone's house. Despite their three year age difference, the two have become inseparable little compadres. Today as I watched them race off down the street towards their afternoon adventure of jumping their bikes on dirt ramps, I realized how nice it was that they had reached this stage of limited independence.
As I walked back inside and caught a powerful whiff coming from upstairs, I was reminded of our morning fiasco. Lauren had dumped an entire bottle of my new hair serum on the carpet, followed by a bottle of fingernail polish remover on top of it and then rubbed it in... just for good measure. I caught her just as she was beginning to paint her left leg with bright purple Insta-dry fingernail polish (the kind that dries in 60 seconds). Nap time couldn't come soon enough for this little monkey.
There are so many little freedoms that disappear with kids. You often don't even notice they're gone until they reappear after years of absence. Hobbies are forsaken, 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep seem like foggy memories from a former life, even uninterrupted piddle time is a thing of legend. The past few months we have reached several milestones of recaptured freedom, one of them being quiet afternoons.
Lauren became potty-trained and Calista switched from formula to milk. I figure that change alone saves us well over $100 per month.
Camden finally learned to scrub bathrooms and do other household chores well.
Luke has learned to shower independently.
Calista phased from 2 naps per day to one. She has also learned to crawl and entertains herself for hours on end discovering the nooks and crannies around the house visible only to 2 foot elves and small children.
Ahhh... the small things that can bring so much relief.
I joke sometimes that having small children feels like house arrest since we could never go anywhere for the longest time because it seemed like someone was always napping. While I consider scheduling and organization one of my strengths, it can also become tiresome when the children become so accustomed to it that it becomes hard to break from the routine and be spontaneous. They become deliriously irrational when naptime is delayed by only an hour and our lives seem to be ruled by potty breaks, naps, and sippy cups.
The road to regaining independence is traveled slowly, one step at a time and victories large and small are celebrated all along the way. But unfortunately each step on that same road also takes me closer to the day when who once seemed like little balls and chains will fly the coop and all will be quiet. And then I wonder, what's going to be more painful once I get to the end of the road? The loss of freedom I feel now or the emptiness of the house once they are gone? I don't need to think about that answer. I already know and it hurts just thinking about it.