Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bathtime Fun with Darby and Ken

When Michael and I started this having children thing, I was determined to keep our home from looking like day care gone wild. There would be no forts in the living room, no crazy swing set structure taking up the entire back yard and no toys littering every room of the house. I envisioned a Japanese minimalist approach to parenting. "Here's a box, honey. Now go play." And for a while the kids didn't know that a wooden spoon banging on Tupperware wasn't the neatest thing since drinkable yogurt.

The thing is, Michael and I didn't just renovate our house, we gayed the place up big time. Our kitchen is the perfect example of sleek, sexy lines amidst varying textures: polished granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, brushed nickle pulls on blond bamboo-like cabinetry. Thomas the Train and Dora the Explorer simply do not belong on the imported slate floor doing the Watusi.

Likewise, our bathroom is sumptuous. The chestnut wood cozying up to the creamy marble, and the steam shower... How did I survive all these years without a steam shower? At night with candles lit, you can't help but enter our bathroom with a certain reverence. It's like the Library of Congress. Hushed tones are demanded from the ceramic Asian head (pictured above) which imbues a certain intellectual, zenlike quality.

I'm sure you think I'm the most heartless Mommy around, not allowing my little tykes their cherished knickknacks. But before you judge me, you should know that I am fighting a losing battle. Doting aunties insist on doling out Barbies three at a time, and overindulgent friends who have no kids seem to think a toy is only successful if it's earsplittingly loud or the box says "82 moving parts." Needless to say, teeny weeny capri pants and brightly colored plastic pieces that mean nothing without their like parts end up scattered hither and yon. Clutter has become an all too familiar way of life.

Even the kitchen has lost its sleekness having become a repository for the forgotten, the broken, the discarded. Eighteen of the original twenty-six ABC magnets cover the stainless steel dish washer, a plastic microphone is lodged in amongst the cook books, a Doug and Melissa puzzle piece in the shape of an kangaroo cowers on the windowsill waiting to be reunited with his fellow wooden marsupials.

Let's face it, the kitchen has become a junk yard, the living room a princess costume shop, the TV room a Hotwheels parking garage, even my bed, MY BED, holds Pretty Ponies and Yugioh cards. Fine. I get it. The little ones have taken over. But I have asked, I have pleaded, "Can't our bathroom, our beautiful, austere bathroom with full length mirror and ceramic Asian head remain clutter free?"

The answer, my friends. A resounding no. And I'm to blame. I allowed a few toys for bath time: a shark, a rubber duck and snorkeling Sponge Bob. Warning: trying to explain the irony of a sponge with a snorkel, diving mask and swim fins to a three year old might lead to hysteria, even tears. But over the years, much to the ceramic Asian head's chagrin, other toys moved in and took up permanent residence. Added to the original three are two boats, two alligators, two rafts, a second rubber duck, a couple of naked plastic dolls (there seems to be an almost Biblical fanaticism to having two of each), a blue manta ray and a brontosaurus nose. I've given in, my flesh is flayed, but I do insist on one rule. You must pick up the toys after your shower and put them on the ledge.

And this is what I found the other morning...

You have to believe me, neither Michael nor I posed the phallus free boy toys. I know you're crying bullshit. But bitch's honor, I do not lie. So, either the dolls were inadvertently placed in this manner, or one or both of my kids were playing man on man action in the bathtub.

And it's unnervingly accurate, isn't it? Notice White Boy's aggressive stance, his There's Something About Mary hair, his right hand slyly inching towards Black Boy's crotch. Now, contrast that with Black Boy's stiff "not unless you've got a condom" demeanor. It's racially charged, it's top/bottom negotiations, it's afternoon delight at Darby and Ken's Bathhouse.

And what's with Ken's missing head? Was some praying mantis post-coital roll playing involved?

And if my precious innocents are into post-coital role playing, what exactly have they seen? Maybe they're not always asleep when we think they are. Maybe they tiptoe down the hallway and peek into our bedroom while Michael and I are otherwise engaged...

...That's it, we need to start locking our door at night.


Christine Gram said...

Brilliant. I loved every line. My heart KNOWS this battle, and yet I look around my own house and see this plastic crap taking over. Even with my habit of secretly and aggressively purging the tossed aside and forgotten.

You at least get to sleep in your own bed... I am routinely kicked out of mine and end up snuggling up in batman sheets without my husband.

The Good Cook said...

As a mama to 4 I am always amused when newbie parents insist their home won't change with the addition of a little. Slowly but surely they crowd your stuff out and take over. Don't be afraid... join the dark side like the rest of us....

CSY said...

Ok, so WHAT is IT that makes children think they can just move in and take over?!?!?! I have 3 of my own and while they're not small like yours are (which I SO miss!) they STILL have crap thrown from one end of the house to the next...If I step on it - it's TRASH!!! My mom had that rule with 5 of us running around, I think it's important to keep up with family traditions.

Venom said...

Okay, how is it that your magnets stick to the stainless steel dishwasher? My stainless steel appliances won't hold up a magnet at all... yeah, just wondering.

Great post PenisMommy; I remember those days when my kids were small with great sentiment. Now they're grown and my house looks pristine, but I'd gladly trade for the clutter and giggles of little ones again. Not that I'm ready for grandchildren yet, I just wish I'd been more in the moment when my one were younger.

annie said...

Oh my dear, the time will go so fast and one day you will look around your empty nest and actually be sad. It will be clean, everything in it's place. No nail polish on the granite counter top, no dishes with mold under the bed next to the tweezers you thought you lost last month. Your plush brand new towels have not been used to wash the car, dog or the side of the house where the paint balls landed. No more asking
"where is my - " fill in the blank. You sit in peace and quiet and try to remember why it was so darn important to be clutter-free, organized and to know where all your stuff was. You swear you would it differently now knowing how fleeting this time was. And then they come home for holiday break with their new puppy, their new friend and their friend's cat who pees everywhere on your new white bedroom carpet. Their clothes, books and crap are piled in every room. They eat everything and leave dishes piled everywhere. The stuff they borrow from you will never be seen again. And then you remember. You like an organzized, clutter free house and you like knowing where your stuff is, in case you might actually need it. You go right back into clean this mess up mode without skiping a beat. So the truth is, try as you may, as long as the kids are around there will be crap in your house. But one day it will all be gone and for a moment or two you will miss it but mostly you will really like it.

Deborah said...

Controversial I realize, but I say it can be done...not because we've managed to maintain kid-free zones in our own home, mind you. I've seen the impeccably stylish home of 2 dads with kids, and I know it can be done. Of course, they've got a designated playroom that is chock-full of toys stored neatly away. It may not be normal, but I've witnessed the possibilities, and I dream about them. Usually the dream involves a finished basement and an extension and a master bedroom suite in the attic far from the children and their things. A girl can dream, can't she?

surprised mom said...

I have two girls, as they grew older, their toys grew bigger and took over the house until my decorating style was early American mish-mash. When the oldest took off for college, I actually missed (still do) her decorating contributions. I dislike the silence her leaving has brought.

When I do get nuts and can't stand one more piece of anything coming into the house, I'll throw something out. It makes me feel better.

オテモヤン said...


BellaDaddy said...

Ah, I cant wait to see what Bella's Barbies are gonna do next...;-)

Sharon said...

I had the same problems with my late husband & his toys--right down to the doll thing--weird huh?

And whn you find out what all the pictographs translate to, do post again...

headbang8 said...

Cou can fix Ken's Something-About-Mary hair with fabric softener. Do not ask me how I know this.

myminivanrocks said...

One of your best posts. My husband saw the Darby and Ken pic over my shoulder and said, "What the f*ck are you looking at?" I slid the computer over so he could read, too, and he laughed his ass off.

We can so relate.

Ryan said...

Love it!

thetotalfemme said...

Ok, but do you have stickers on the back windows of your car? Then you'll know you're really sunk. Until then, there may be hope.

I want a steam shower!!!


Jennifer Thorne said...

Tears. In. My. Eyes.

Yes, the unnatural barbie poses... I've found them doing the strangest things on my daughter's floor. Sometimes it seems that bondage has been involved. And I find that more than mildly disturbing ;p