On Sunday afternoon, I set myself the task of tidying up the playroom. I wanted to REALLY tidy, not just shove things in corners and whip stuff out-of-sight. Everything needed to be sorted and put back where it BELONGED for a change. All of this effort was because of Hannah the Fabulous Mother's Helper's imminent arrival, and it was SHE who helped me do the Grand Sorting Out of the playroom a year ago. I wanted to show her that our "system" has been working, for the most part: my kids can finally SEE what they have to play with, and all of the shelving and clear plastic bins that we arranged have made clean-up a breeze, compared to the way things USED to be...
A breeze, that is, unless you have an enthusiastic three-year-old messing things up behind your back, faster than you can clean.
As I picked legos and minute pieces of playmobil off of the carpet and sorted them into bins, my youngest daughter delightedly dived into a large pile of stuffed animals, scattering them hither and yon. Once she had made her selection from the VERY BOTTOM OF THE PILE (and I swear, the bear was about three inches tall), she mosied over to the dolly drawer, where she whipped all of the contents onto the floor until she found exactly the right blanket with which to swaddle her "new baby". Then it was over to the little kitchen set, where she capsized a container of plastic dishes and fun-food, in order to select what she would "cook" her baby for breakfast...
She was having a ball, and I let her carry on, until my own frustrating sorting job was complete, and the lego and playmobil bins had been sealed and placed back on the shelf.
I then turned to Child Number Three, who was happily spooning pretend cereal into the teddy bear's mouth, pausing every few minutes to whip him out of the dolly highchair and give him a wallop or two on the back, to "help him with his burps".
Mother: (eyeing the re-doubling mess in the room, and trying her best not to sound alarmed and spoil the fun) Hey, kiddo!! What do you say you take a break from feeding your bear, and help me round up some of these toys you're not using?
Child Number Three responds by not responding, clearly ignoring her mother on purpose.
Mother: (cheerful, but with a hint of manipulation thrown in...) You know WHAT?! HANNAH is coming back soon!! And she would be REALLY HAPPY if this room was a little bit tidier when she gets here...
Child Number Three continues the ignoring act, and places her bear in the dolly stroller in preparation for a "walk".
Mother: (giving up and grumbling as she begins chucking stuffed animals back into their bin) Hannah's going to get here, and the first thing she's going to do when she sees this playroom is gasp and ask you, "WHO didn't put their toys away and left ALL THIS MESS on the floor??!"
Child Number Three: (bending over slightly so as to look her mother right in the eye) I tell Hannah dat YOU did it.
Has she got my number or what?!