Touch of Spice

What are they thinking?


I walked into the house to the overpowering smell of mint. The air was so thick with it that I was a little dizzy.

With two small children around, I've smelled worse things, but nothing on such a large scale.

It was in every room of the house.

Then the story unfolded.

Katie and Nikki, being too quiet to be up to any good, drew their father's attention because of that extended silence. He tracked them down and knew the minute the minty-fresh smell hit his nose that "up to no good" was putting it mildly.

He found them next to a nearly empty tube of toothpaste coated with the stuff. They evidently used it as lotion, had coated their hands and were busy rubbing it on their legs.

They had green smudges on their faces, over their arms and in their hair.

It took the rest of the night to get the smell out of the house.

Mint, on a small scale, is a great smell, but on a large scale ...

I know I'm not the first parent to wish she could understand what her children were thinking, and I know I'll not be the last. All I know is that there are some things that are probably best left undiscovered.

For the umpteenth time, I responded to Katie's wails from her bedroom. I no longer do it at a run. It generally means her cup is two inches farther than her reach or part of her blanket is caught on a knob.

For the umpteenth time, I found her with her leg caught in the bars of the crib. I pried the bars apart enough for her to dislodge her knee, which put an immediate stop to the tears.

For the umpteenth time, I told her to be careful and to not put her leg through the bars -- she's getting too big.

Obviously, she is not getting less stubborn, because it wasn't the first time she'd done it and it wasn't the last.

What is she thinking?

Nikki is trying her hand at throwing tantrums. She's unaware that her big sister set the stage afire not too long ago, and so doesn't understand why she doesn't garner near the attention that she's striving for.

She reaches a certain point that causes her to throw herself backwards, hopefully hitting her head on the ground. Another version of that is when she falls to the ground on all fours and bangs her head on the floor.

We try to pinpoint the cause of such masochistic acts, usually a missed nap, and wonder, again, what in the world she's thinking about.

The same thought pops into our heads when she won't touch her dinner, ends up overturning her plate and then comes to me and begs for a bite of the same darn stuff she just pitched to the floor. Or when Katie asks for a grape, spits it out and keeps asking for more. Or when Nikki finishes her speghetti and then puts the sauce in her hair.

Knowing what children are thinking would be an amazing thing when they're sick, or upset, or are frustrated when they can't bypass the communication barrier.

But, I think, other times it's OK not knowing how they reason that the toothpaste they brush their teeth with every single day magically transformed itself into lotion or why the bird droppings on the sidewalk are considered spilled milk or why they want to go up steps they have no clue how to get back down.

I'm going to peg it all on learning experience -- for me and them. It's a new world for them and if learning about it results in a few messes, we'll then, I'll just help clean them up.

That's what parents are for, after all.

But still ... I just wish I knew why sometimes.

Then again, I'm probably better off not knowing.

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