Friday, October 2, 2009

Spilled Milk

You've heard the saying "Don't cry over spilled milk". Well, I don't agree. Sure this saying has a nice hidden meaning - don't regret what can't be undone. But to anyone with kids this idiom is much more literal. For me, milk being spilled is part of our daily routine and although I can't put the spilled milk back into the glass, I can regret that it continues to happen time and time again.

My 5 year old may have the record for spilled milk. At one point he was averaging one glass a meal, 3 meals a day, every day. It has lessened, but I don't exactly know how this still continues to happen. Some days it is obvious when he is sitting at the table playing with his food, his plate, his silverware and his glass, that something is going to spill. Other days I see it coming when I ask him over and over again to please stop pretending to play baseball at the table. But my 5 year old never heeds my warnings and always tries to fit one more "up to bat". Inevitably when his little brother pitches the imaginary baseball across the table to him, he spills his milk when he swings. There are times too where the milk just seems to spill without warning, almost without actual cause. There's a flick of the wrist or a bump of the elbow that is almost too fast for the naked eye to see. What I don't understand is how he never learns from the time before. Why can't he be more careful? Why is milk still spilling in our house?

I remember clearly the first time he spilled milk at the table. He had just graduated to a real cup from a sippy cup. I didn't see what caused the spill; I turned my back for a second in the kitchen and the next thing I heard was him crying and the splashing sound of milk running off the table onto the floor. I remember staying calm, hearing that old adage in my head, and not wanting him to cry. Thinking I was being a "good mom", I stayed calm and I assured him it was okay; wiping his tears away. I cleaned up the table and the floor with a smile, and got him another glass of milk. But I have since become a little too familiar with that sound of milk rolling off the table onto the floor. Maybe I let him off too easy? I know that a glass of spilled milk is really not a big deal. But when I find myself under the kitchen table repeatedly cleaning up puddles of milk, I have other thoughts.

I now think crying over spilled milk is very much warranted. In fact its expected, especially if I am the one cleaning up the mess. My kids know that we've well exceeded the number of times milk should spill in one household. They don't laugh when it happens; they just sit there quietly watching as I quickly race around the kitchen trying to soak up the table before it all falls to the floor. But on the days where there are multiple spills, sometimes tears are shed. Sometimes I remind them that I'm the one who should actually be crying, because I'm the one cleaning it all up. And sometimes I join them. When you are on your hands and knees under the table cleaning the floor for the second time that day and have milk fall on your head through the table leaf; then it is absolutely warranted to cry a little over spilled milk.

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