- Composing a concerto in my head.
- Memorizing, in chronological order, every president of the United States.
- Learning to rap "Ice, Ice Baby" backwards.
- Counting the number of times I have said the phrase "listening ears" since my children were born.
- Identifying the current number of gray hairs I have.
- Visualizing a map of Africa and successfully remembering the name of each country and where it is located.
These are just a few of many.
When (and why?) would I possibly accomplish these seemingly useless activities, you wonder, when I am parenting two toddlers at the same time?
The answer is easy: During the time it takes for my youngest child to walk up the stairs.
Let me paint you a little picture of how this goes each time.
(1) We approach the gate. Young one insists on opening the gate but is not developmentally capable of opening said gate. Conflict ensues. Mama opens the gate.
(2) Child takes one step up.
(3) Child takes one step down, opens gate, closes gate, insists on opening gate again. Cannot accomplish this aim. Conflict ensues. Mama opens the gate. Conversation about how we will only go UP from now on.
(4) Child takes one step up and spots a speck of dirt. Child picks up speck of dirt, hands it to mama and looks for more. This can last up to 3 minutes until stair is fully cleaned and mama is reminded of how dirty the step actually is.
(5) Child takes one more step up.
(6) Child gets distracted and asks mama to name every single person in every picture on the opposing wall.
(7) Mama complies because she is desperate for youngest child to be inspired to talk.
(8) Child takes one more step up.
(9) Child teeters on the brink of falling backwards down the stairs but screams in rage if mama attempts to keep him from plummeting to his death.
(10) Child recovers. Mama promises not to touch him.
(11) Child takes one more step up.
(12) Child takes another step up. (Mama tries to pretend she is not exceedingly delighted in this so that child might take another step up because HE WANTS TO.)
(13) Child proceeds to clean this step with same vigor as earlier step. Mama's pockets are now full of crumbs, dirt and leaves because, no, it is NEVER possible for her to vacuum the stairs. Ever.
(14) Child takes another step up and stops to take a break.
(15) Mama breathes in and out. Walking anywhere slowly is not her strong suit.
(16) Mama encourages resting child to make a big push to finish going up the stairs and begins to sing song she has composed to help little bottoms get moving when they are dawdling.
(17) Child responds gleefully to song and dances up the stairs, almost falling backwards again but scaring himself enough that he lets mama help this time.
(18) Mama keeps adding activities to her long list of what she might accomplish within the confines of her brain during stair-climbing episodes.
(19) Child reaches the top of the stairs and immediately turns around to go down the stairs.
(20) Mama attempts to explain that we are going to stay upstairs for at least 3 minutes so she can feel like there was an adequate reason for going up the stairs in the first place. Child isn't buying it. Conflict ensues. Reconciliation occurs. We stay upstairs and accomplish ONE THING and then come back down.
Five minutes later, start over.
Now let me make something clear.
I am happy my child can finally maneuver the stairs. This is another step on the long track that leads towards physical independence. Soon he will only fall up or down the stairs as often as I do. I look forward to that.
But for now? When every trip up the stairs goes so painstakingly slow that I am confident at some point we will forget whether we were going up or down?
I've got that list that keeps my mind busy.
'Cause mama can only stare at an adorable little backside for so long without losing her mind.