Little Boys are Different

Boy on Kitchen FloorSeventh Generation Nation member accidentallyonpurpose writes about the process of bringing up her family green. When my girls were toddlers, the floors in my house were clean -- kinda. I mean you occasionally got the crunchy sensation of a piece of oat cereal beneath your feet. But so what, right? I didn't obsess over it. Fast forward a couple of years: My son, Cole, and his little boy antics, have brought the floor to the fore. He has forced me to re-think my notions of clean. When the girls were his age, they used the floor for walking. That's it. Back then I mopped regularly -- and by "regularly" I mean once a week or so with whatever fake pine-scented potion was handy. With Cole, I'm wiping up almost daily. And I'm using Seventh Generation's Multi-Surface Cleaner. Why have I suddenly turned into this serious green housekeeper, you ask? Allow me to explain. You know how tots who are learning to walk trip up every so often? Well, dear little Cole -- who mastered his stride long ago -- falls ALL of the time, on purpose. In his 2-year-old brain, he has apparently conjured this stunt-double self image that prompts him to hurl his body to the floor about a dozen times a day. I'm not talking tantrums here -- although he certainly displays his share. I'm saying that this child approaches the simple act of crossing the kitchen floor, let's say, with a level of energy most of us reserve for a thrill ride at Great Adventure. It goes something like this. Me: "Cole, lunch is ready." Him: "Arrrrrrrr (unintelligible yelling)!" Then he runs as fast as he can -- dives to the floor and slides about two feet toward his chair. "I going get you pea-butter san-ich!" From what I'm told, that sort of display is pretty much standard for rambunctious little boys. The next part is where things get wacky. After his landing, one would think that his stunt has concluded. But, no-o-o-o. Once stationed just inches from said target -- in this case, the villainous "pea-butter san-ich" -- Cole proceeds to slither along the floor in a belly crawl motion like some stunt from of an action movie. His face is seemingly glued to the floor's surface -- especially if he has recently come from a visit to Grandma's and feels the need to imitate Molly the Mutt and her neverending search for food scraps. Mere words cannot explain how this sweet, adorable little boy grosses me out on a daily basis. The more he senses my "yuk" threshold approaching, the further he is inclined to push. And I have to admit -- now, please don't repeat this: On more than one occasion, I have seen his tongue actually touch the floor! He has learned that mommy finds this display "de-gustin." So after my loud shriek, he heads for the kitchen sink cabinet. So-called child safety latches have got nothing on him. He finds the Seventh Generation Cleaner and starts squirting it on the floor. My friends and family find that cute. But I usually let out yet another howl, because as I try to tell him, "Money doesn't grow on trees." Two things save me from a full-blown nervous breakdown. One is the non-toxic, non-chlorine, non-ammonia beauty of not worrying about what your child might be touching or breathing in. Then, there are the wise words of my obstetrician. When I was in my ninth month, I brought my daughters to one of my last-trimester doctor visits. They had the day off from school and I figured, since they were six and eight at the time, a sonogram might be a cool "teachable moment." (I also had no child care lined up, but I digress). Anyhoo, after my OB showed the girls Cole's profile and such, they oooh'd and aaaahh'd then went into the waiting room with lollipops. As she wiped the gel off my big, fat belly, the doctor smiled warmly and said, "I'm telling you this now, because I don't want you to think it's you after he's born." I braced myself for the worst. She said, "Don't try to fix it. Just accept it: Boys do the dumbest stuff!" Whew! photo: Andy Todd