I can’t paint around a certain Baby Chickadee

The tear to clean my house that I referenced last week has expanded. What began as the scrubbing of closets and toys and back corners of our storage area has now become a scrubbing of the walls. If the closets get to look all shiny and new then the walls should look all shiny and new, too. Be gone, years of grimy kid handprints! Bring on the paint!

But the thing is that I can’t paint around a certain Baby Chickadee, because that certain Baby Chickadee still likes to be in the middle of everything I do. When she was an actual baby she demanded to be carried everywhere, then as a toddler she clung to my hand as we went through our day around the house, and now that she’s a preschooler she is up in my business with everything I do--she helps me make beds and smoothies and helps me unload the dishwasher.

At the times a preschooler’s help is not conducive to safety--say, when I’m cooking on the stove--and I tell her “Not right now,” in response to, “I help you?!,” she turns her head away with a big bottom lip and teary eyes. So when a preschooler’s help is not conducive to keeping paint off our bright white baseboards, I shipped her off for a couple of days to be with my parents; I couldn’t handle a repeated tearful response to my desire to paint by myself.

The first night she was gone I called to talk to her just before G and Little Missy went to bed so that they could talk to her, too. I spoke first, then Hubby, and with both of us she tried to get off the phone quick. Why talk to the people who love you, feed you, house you and clothe you when you are getting spoiled with strawberries and homemade chocolate sauce?

But when Bubba got on the phone she did a 180; instead of, “Again?” as my parents admonished her to talk to Hubby and I, it was a gleeful 30-second gabfest from her end of the line when it was her brother to talk to. Then when he told her it was Little Missy’s turn to talk a surprised, “Yay!!!” burst from Tulsa and out into our living room. The phone was on speaker so Little Missy heard that unprovoked, happy response, and her eyes lit up. Little Missy was then uncharacteristically sweet to her sister: “Whatcha doin’, Baby Chickadee? Did you have a good day?” Gone, if only for a couple of minutes, were the usual frustrated looks Little Missy has for her adoring and copying little sister.

So I chalk all this painting and shipping off of the littlest one a good thing. If absence makes the hearts of G and Little Missy and Baby Chickadee fonder towards each other then I might start shipping off kids on a regular basis.


Erin Fox is a busy wife and mother of three. She is a weekly columnist for the Times- Gazette.