How little I knew about life before I had children! For example, I didn’t know that babies can develop an oral yeast infection called thrush. (Until that point, a thrush was something that twittered outside your window when you were trying to snooze on Saturday mornings. A Saturday snooze—ah, the memories.) I didn’t know you could treat thrush with a medicinal dye called gentian violet. And I certainly didn’t know that a dose of the said stuff would make your kiddo look as though he was the love child of a member of Blue Man Group. Yup, gentian violet will stain anything it touches a shocking shade of purple, including the inside of a baby’s mouth. I learned this the hard way a few weeks ago when I picked up a bottle whose cap had not quite been replaced and—shazam! Purple hand. Purple counter. Purple bathroom drawer.
Myself, I can never think of a good time to have an appendage assume a shade not normally borne by human flesh. You’ll always become the butt of countless office jokes. People will scoot away from you in line at the grocery store, no matter how much you assure them that it isn’t catching. But the evening I spilled the violet was particularly bad. We had friends due over for dinner in mere moments, my oldest (whom we half-jokingly call Genghis) was trying to overturn furniture, and the baby was screaming. I don’t have time for this, I found myself thinking as I took rags and bleach to the countertop.
Can you empathize? If you’ve little ones, I’m sure you can. Most days, I really want to exercise, eat decently and act the good host. Too often, I end up sleeping late, swinging by Wendy’s for lunch, and trying to return my toothbrush to its natural, non-purple hue. Urgent things rule over the best things like some sort of tyranical oligopoly, particularly where our kids are concerned. It’s so much easier to pop them in a pack ‘n’ play or put on some disposable children’s DVD than to take a breath, calm them down and open a good book. Easy, yes—not best. I remember so little of my childhood TV time, but I vividly recall how my mother’s voice led me through the big woods to Laura Ingalls Wilders’ little cabin and then out on a picinic with The Berenstain Bears and then down the bathtub drain with Stuart Little.
Now, don’t mistake me; this isn’t a call to simply read more with our children. As fine as that may be, I’d rather us pursue the best things in every instance, the things that will feed their minds and swell their souls. They are what I desire to pursue with all my might—even if I must cling to them with purple hands.
(Picture: CC 2012 by jon.hayes)