You know the general rule that all mothers adhere to? The one that goes something like this: If you cannot see your child, and she is being particularly, unusually quiet, it probably means she's doing something that she's not supposed to.
However, there is a little something that I call the Great Trade-Off. This is when you know that they're up to something that you might not want them to do...say, emptying out your Tupperware cabinet, or pulling all of your socks out of your drawer...but since it's nothing life-threatening and you know it will only take you a few seconds to clean it up later, you let them continue. All to buy yourself a few uninterrupted minutes.
Please tell me you've done this. At least once in your life.
Case in point:
Savannah had a box of regular Crayola crayons that she got when she was about a year and a half. A few weeks later they were all either lost or snapped in half. The perfectionist in me cannot stand broken crayons so I would toss them (that was before I found out I could do this with them...cool!).
Just before Christmas, I ran across a big box of self-sharpening crayons. Each one was encased in a plastic tube, and you just had to turn the bottom to wind it up. Perfect! I figured these were the answer to the breaking-of-the crayon problem, so I snatched them up. Brilliant, right? Surely she could not do any damage to these, because after all, they were made of plastic. Practically impervious.
A few weeks ago, we sat in the living room, getting our evening fix of Wheel of Fortune. This is probably very, very uncool to admit that we watch it every evening. But we do. It is our Family Show, and we get excited about it. Even Savannah gets in on the fun, calling out the letters as they come up.
So. About half through, Savannah wandered behind the couch where her crayons and coloring books are kept. And she was being extremely quiet.
I asked her what she was doing, and she said, "Counting, Mama! One, two, three, four..." Ok. Back to the show. The thing was, I knew she was up to something other than just coloring and counting. But...the Great Trade-Off had commenced.
Later on, I walked by her coloring station, and saw this:
She had methodically taken each crayon apart, rendering them completely useless. The plastic case, the crayon part, the white wind-up thing. All sitting in piles. She couldn't snap these crayons in half, but she sure could wreak havoc on them nonetheless.
So much for my brilliance. And that impervious plastic.
Tonight I was cleaning up the kitchen, and I realized I hadn't seen her in about 10 minutes. I asked Ricardo where she was, and he said she was playing in her room. Quietly.
Once, again, cue the Great Trade-Off.
And also once again, I was in for this little treat:
I keep the pink basket full of hair accessories on her dresser, where she can't reach them. Or rather, where she couldn't reach them before she realized she could utilize that box underneath her dresser as a handy little step-stool.
What is so fascinating about dismantling things? She now has a few barrettes that have been stripped of their fancy little flowers. And she isn't satisfied with just emptying the basket...no. She has to take every single barrette (and there are a lot of them, trust me) off of the paper holder and mix them up.
But no matter that it took me 10 minutes to separate all of the barrettes and match up every single ponytail holder according to color.
At least I got the kitchen cleaned up. And that's what I call a good trade.