Life with Kids in Bunker #3
When I lived in Napa, California, a very wealthy mom from my daughter’s preschool came over to my house. Her eyes swept over my family room and, tight-lipped, she said, “I love your home. It’s so…kid-friendly.”
“Thank you so much,” I said graciously, knowing full well that her “compliment” was the equivalent of a Southerner’s “Bless your heart.” I could only imagine her sick, clammy feeling when she realized she was standing in the home of a woman who didn’t custom match her Dutailier glider with her drapery. Who, in fact, didn’t have drapery.
Pre-kids, my husband and I custom built our first home, outfitting it with cream carpeting, cream couches, floor-length curtain sheers, and an elegant gas fireplace with a raised hearth. Two kids later, the cream couches were watermarked and torn from scrubbing out crayon and spit-up. The carpet was worn from scrubbing out baby diarrhea and sippy cup dribbles. Our children pulled down the curtain sheers. One of them stood on her toy kitchen and did a swan dive into the corner of our beautiful raised hearth.
By the time “I love your home” mom found me, I was in my second house, pregnant with my third child, and had learned a thing or two about decorating with children.
My family room that she found so utterly charming for its “kid-friendliness” was the biggest room in our house and had lovely skylights and cathedral ceilings. Yet I decorated it with nothing but one sad, abused cream couch, and plastic toy bins jammed protectively against the fireplace corners.
Having kids will make you terrified to own anything you remotely like or care about. Because of stories like these:
My daughter cut open our duvet, ripped out all the feathers, and then glued them to her body. She “wanted to be Chicken Little.”
My son found our white carpet to be an irresistible canvas: he would make swirlies, smiley faces, and other artwork on it. With his urine.
My daughter painted her own toes with nail polish (toes is more accurate than toenails) and then marched across my new, satin bedspread.
My son snuck into my bedroom and sat naked on my custom silk chair. Then crapped on it.
My daughter excitedly said, “You’re not gonna believe this!” She had drawn a line of lipstick all around the interior perimeter of the house, including inside the closets.
We had just installed new carpeting in our master bedroom. My daughter and her friend drove their Barbie camper into a potted plan and knocked it over. To clean the soil, they poured water on it and scrubbed it with my new bath towels. We had to get the carpeting redone.
My daughter sat on her bunk bed and smeared black PlayDoh onto her textured ceiling. She now stares at a 6 inch diameter pothole when she goes to sleep at night.
By the time our third child was 1, we used lawn chairs and moving boxes as furniture. We banned from our home anything that boasted fabric or some other porous material. My husband and I got skilled at designing clothes out of garbage bags.
Now that my kids are older, I thought maybe I could venture to make my house say, “Welcome” instead of “Bunker #3.” Nervously, I bought some silk flowers from the craft store. My hands shook as I placed them in a ceramic (!) vase in my living room.
The next day I found the flowers’ decapitated heads floating in a pool of Danimals yogurt on my kitchen counter. I wiped away my tears with the corner of my Hefty Cinch Sak skirt.