This morning, I sent The Baby upstairs on a Big Girl task to wake up her teenage brother on the 3rd floor. I told her to make sure that she jumped on his bed- to stir him. She proudly but 'slowly, Mama' marched up the stairs. I was lost in my work on the 1st floor for 10 minutes before I realized that she had not returned and that it was unnaturally quiet upstairs. I am typically not a superstitious person. I've stepped on cracks, walked under ladders, owned a black cat, used a broken mirror. But after the horror of my discovery today, the devastation, the gruesome stains on the carpet, I honor the spinetingling apprehension of Friday the 13th.
On the 3rd floor, I found my son still sleeping.
And, The Baby was in plain view.
Painting a self portrait.
She was covered from head to toe in craft paint- the kind that comes with cheap wooden model kits and whose little snapped lids are impossible to open-though apparently not for a 2 year old. She was streaking her hair when I found her. The carpet around her had the saturated marks of tiny fingers- dots, dabs and streaks embellishing the fibers.
Each of my children as infants and toddlers had that one outfit which became my favorite but which was habitually soiled within minutes of wearing it so it never truly saw the light of day. I would scrub, stain remove, and launder the article. It went back on the kid again only to survive 30 minutes without the blood of cranberry juice or the smear of an unidentified source emblazoned upon it. As of this morning, I know for certain that this season's clothing casualty is The Baby's jaunty yellow t-shirt with a rainbow calico fish appliqued on the front.
The paint had been tucked away, hidden from view for over 4 years and it took her less than ten minutes to zero in on its location and recreate Jackson Pollack's Shimmering Substance. Luckily it came off of her skin and the carpet without much effort; but the yellow t-shirt was not so lucky. I've learned in the past 15 years of parenting not to get too attached to material goods or to deem preciousness upon things that are not truly sacred. I reserve those designations for my iPhone (which does not have a protection plan) and my secret stash of candy.
Oh, and the kids too.
Happy Friday the 13th!