Friday, 14 October 2011

Present Tense: The curious incident of the toothpaste in the moonlight

There is that special time that every mother knows, when her kids are off playing quietly somewhere and she has a few moments to herself to do what she wants.  The first 20 seconds of that time are wonderful, relaxing and filled with feelings like "Wow, they can actually cope without me for a while," and "This isn't so hard after all," and "They are such great kids," and "It's so peaceful and quiet".  But, like in any good western movie, there comes a time when some suspicious, nagging little voice pipes up "Yeah - too quiet."  Normally this results in super human, lightning-quick reaction times to get to the scene of the crime before too much damage is done.

In my case, not quick enough, as it turns out.

I had been doing my thing, getting beds ready, lulled into a false sense of security by the prevailing peace and calm of the evening.  The twins were off playing quietly in their room and anyone with even a hint of prescience would have realised that Something was Up.  I cottoned on to this a little late in the proceedings.

By the time I arrived, it was too late.  I opened the half-shut door to their bedroom, and caught myself thinking "I don't remember the walls being that particular shade of blue?"  That was when I caught sight of the boys.  In good James Dean tradition, they had slicked back their hair into fantastic styles with the aid of the Colgate Total minty fresh blue gel toothpaste (two jumbo size tubes) that they had rustled up in the bathroom cupboard.  They had obtained these precious items by boosting each other up onto the basin and from there it was a hop, skip and a jump to where the extras were kept.

As far as I can make out, their story went like this:  Captain Mac (a local superhero) wears a very fetching silvery-blue helmet, one which was greatly admired and coveted by the boys.  What better way to show admiration than by emulation?  They had helped each other to "put on" the helmets they so greatly admired.  Yet this was clearly not enough!  Each had to have the accessories to go with the helmet:  blue gloves (hence a sock drawer full of toothpaste), blue henchmen (likewise many miscellaneous animals caught unsuspecting in the firing line), blue capes (toothpaste-covered duvets and pillow cases), and finally, a blue rocket ship (the walls of their room).

At first I was at a loss as to how two relatively small people could have caused such chaos in such a short period of time.  I have since developed a theory that I now feel able to share with the world.  It goes like this:

One child = Mess
Two children (unrelated or siblings) = double Mess or (2 x Mess)
Twins = {Mess}squared

Of course the corollary to this theorem involves time:

If one child can achieve a certain amount of mess in a certain amount of time, then two kids can do it twice as fast.  So, if one child takes 25 minutes to make an appreciable amount of mess, two should do it in 12 minutes and 30 seconds. Following this to its logical conclusion, a set of twins, running at full capacity, should be able to cover the same amount of ground in roughly five minutes!

Let me know what you think!

As a post-script to the curious incident of the toothpaste in the moonlight, I have discovered an interesting fact about the nature of most cleaning products:  they are not (surprisingly!) self-cleansing by nature.  Two tubes of toothpaste required the following to remove:
1 500ml bottle of shampoo
2 boxes of laundry detergent
1 almost full bottle of Jif (the concentrated sort)
1 bottle of carpet cleaner
About 2 hours of elbow grease.

A word of caution - what are your kids doing at this moment?

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