It happens once in a blue moon. That rare occasion when you can outwit those little collaborators, who I am confident spend time plotting and planning through the bars of their cribs when they should be sleeping or huddled together in the play-yard when they should be playing. I was set to believe that today was one of those days. I am not sure whether it is 'up' or 'over' or 'out' or some other concept he has recently discovered, but my sweet little boy persists in pitching every stinkin' toy out of the play-yard he shares with his two sisters. This has been going on for a few weeks, and I realize it is just another one of those things that plays out very differently for mommies of multiples than it does for those mommies who just have one baby at a time.
If my sweet little boy was the one and only pumpkin in the patch then he could throw his toys out of his play-yard to his heart's content. Then when he was sitting in the empty play-yard investigating fuzz and whatever crusty stuff is glommed onto the graying carpet that had been a pre-baby lovely cream color I would look on empathetically and lovingly with that "Mommy-told-you-so" look in my eyes. However, because we have two other very nice pumpkins rolling around the play-yard I find myself with a dilemma. I feel incredibly guilty every time he grins his little wolfish grin at me after I say the "n" word for the bajillionth time two minutes, but I am in a quandary as his sisters are peering around the empty floor of the play-yard and warning me that their patience is wearing thin.
And then today I had a flash of mommy-brilliance (soon to be renamed the what-the-hell-was-I-thinking incident). Standing in the living room pondering amidst the shrieks of toy-pitching glee and the wails of toy-searching despair I wondered if I could redirect the toy pitching into a box or some sort of plastic tub. I remembered somewhere in the basement were two pink plastic tubs that came home from the hospital with me after the babies were born. They had been in my room holding assorted doo-dads, and since I knew the hospital would be billing us at a rate of some undoubtedly ridiculous amount like $60 dollars a piece for them I threw them onto my cart to go out to the car when I was discharged.
Having no idea what I would do with them but anticipating they might come in handy some day for cleaning or holding baby goodies or some other equally useful task, I found them tucked into a corner of the basement. Proud with my mommy-ingenuity, and at long long last (16 months) having found a use for my tubs, I unstacked them and carried one upstairs for its new job. Cautiously optimistic that my mommy-brilliance would be just the solution rather than just the next projectile launched over the play-yard I smiled bravely and held up the pink tub.
At first there was pulling and tugging and whining and fussing and screaming. Ah. To be expected. Limited resources for six little hands. Leaning over the play-yard I tossed a few toys in and then pulled them back out. A few more turns of this, and the magic happened! I saw six little hands working together and toys going in and coming out. Going in and coming out. Going in and coming out. A-HA! I was brilliant. Reveling in my success I smiled to myself and went on about my things-to-do-today. Then there it was. The sounds of whining and fussing and screaming. I stopped what I was doing to investigate. Oh. One of my darling angels had found a comfy spot sitting in the pink tub, and another of my darling angels had found a comfy spot sitting on top of her sister sitting in the tub. Apparently, this did not work for either of them since darling angel number one was being squished and couldn't flap about freely, and darling angel number two couldn't fit herself entirely in the tub and was being pinched and gouged and and pushed by the squishy flapless angel. Note: Darling angel number three was quietly observing this all but stayed completely unengaged. . .so far so good. At least he wasn't adding to the melee by attempting to pitch the pink tub over the play-yard while both of his sisters were in it.
Ignoring the taunting whisper in my head I traipsed back down to the basement realizing there was only one more pink tub. Two tubs and three babies does not a happy mommy make. We have a rule at our house. We either have one-of-something or three-of-something. Never two. With one we learn to share and take turns, or with three everyone has their 'very own' and can play without a fuss. Hahaha. . .on Mommy. While that certainly sounded like a good rule in naive-mommy-theory, what I quickly learned was that three-of-something results in the exact same outcome as one or two-of-something. It goes like this: one or two babies either sneak in or launch an offensive to hoard more than their 'very own one', and someone is still left whining and fussing and screaming because his or her 'very own one' is in the clutches of a hoarding brother or sister. So although I was cringing with anticipatory terror at what I was sure would happen I thought, "What else can I do? If I am very very lucky then this might work. (Hahaha) And if not, I can always try to find another box or something for darling angel number three (please refer back to the above sentence about hoarding for evidence of this situation decompensating as seen by delusional-mommy-thinking)
As I rounded the corner from the kitchen and walked into the sites of the darling angels I saw darling angel number two's face break into a big grin, and she began giggling at the sight of pink tub number two. As she came toddling across the play-yard to grasp at the pink tub in my hands I tried to ignore the fact that darling angel number one's face also broke into a big grin, and I knew what that meant. Hoping against hope that I was just plain ol' wrong, I leaned in to put pink tub number two on the ground, and as darling angel number two placed one foot carefully in the bottom of it with the anticipation of plunking her bottom down, darling angel number one firmly grabbed onto one side of her sister's tub and yanked hard. Out of the tub, against the side of the play-yard, and down onto a heap of toys came crashing darling angel number two. Thus ensued a tug-of-war with darling angel number one whining and fussing and screaming while darling angel number two held her own. Like a flash, feeling a bit like whining and fussing and screaming myself, I hurdled over the top of the play-yard, pried the tub out of little vice-like grips, scooted darling angel number one across the floor in her tub just beyond reach of pink tub number two that was quickly repositioned on the floor with darling angel number two being neatly folded into it.
Wait for it. . .ahhh. Peace and quiet. Okay, peace and giggling and babbling, but definitely no whining and fussing and screaming. I managed to run and get the camera to snap a few photos of the evidence of my mommy-brilliance. . .before it all came to some sort of disastrous-ending, which I had no doubt would be happen at any moment. So far so good. One minute and no disaster. Minute two passed with still no disaster. Minute three was sounding good. . .except what was that crunching sound?. . .Coming out of my slump on the couch I investigate further and see darling angel number two playing nicely in her tub, of course. Then I see it. Darling angel number one has discovered she can push her feet forward in this little flimsy tub from the hospital, and as it flexes the edges crackle and break apart. WHAT FUN!!! After a few words of attempted discouragement and rising panic that we would be back down to one tub shortly, my rational-thinking returned and I realized that one tub could not possibly be worse than two tubs so 'what the hay?' Okay, darling. I informed my sweet little 16 month old, as any rational mommy would, that the 'natural consequence' of breaking her tub would be she wouldn't have one to play with anymore while her sister played on. I am not sure she was listening because she continued to grin and push. Okie dokie. I continued on with my tasks. Hmmm. Now what? It sounded as though the cracking had a new timbre. Investigation mode again. Ah. Darling angel number three had finally left his observation post and now determined that darling angel number one was making those cracks in the tub just for his fingers to explore. In the work of a quick moment he had his fingers caught and pinched as evidenced by his whining and fussing and screaming.
Okay, well now how in the world was I to have realized that the plastic tubs from the hospital are not quite as durable as the ones you can buy at a store for household use? I don't have time for all this thinking. I am a mommy to triplets, for goodness sakes.
As I sit typing this from the couch I peek over the play-yard top and see darling angel number one has curled up on a blanket on the floor and has whined and fussed and screamed herself into a post-pink-tub-fun nap. Darling angel number two is rocking on her princess pony, and . . .where is darling angel number three and his mangled fingers? I have to peer around one of the play-yard panels that is solid so I can see what is causing him to be so. . .well, quiet. And I see a slightly-worse-for-the-wear pink tub between his legs as he is patiently pitching toys into the tub and then taking toys out of the tub.
Mission accomplished. I am Brilliant Mommy! Maybe I should just pick up a couple of extra heavier-duty tubs next time we are shopping.
. . .oh wait. Now the tub is on his head.