Saturday, August 04, 2007

Minor Catastrophe

Vaseline (a.k.a. petroleum jelly) is a very nice thing to have around one's home. For us, it comes in handy regularly, especially since Meg joined the family. We use it frequently on her little, rosy cheeks, which are prone to eczema breakouts. So we are grateful for Vaseline. We like Vaseline. Vaseline is our friend.

But on Thursday, we had a little bit too much Vaseline here in the Wilcox household. And I am now here to tell you, quite frankly, that I don't care if I never see another container of Vaseline for the rest of my days.

* * *
It was too quiet in Meg's room. Much too quiet. I hadn't heard a babble from my daughter or the sound of one of her musical toys in... I don't know how long.

Every afternoon, Meg has some alone-play time built into her schedule. I take her into her bedroom, make sure she is well stocked with toys and books, put a baby gate across her doorway, and head into my own bedroom for some cleaning/laundry folding/ironing time. It's a great thing, and I think that Meg has actually begun to look forward to it.

Yesterday seemed to be no exception at first. My girlie was in her room, I was in mine, the iron was going, and happy playing noises were issuing from Meg's corner of the house. After a busy morning, the time alone in my room felt like a blissful break, even if I was still on my feet. I heaved a sigh of relief and decided to call my sister while I worked.

I got off the phone a few minutes later and realized that Meg was still doing well, even though her alone time was technically over. Great, I thought, I'll leave her in there a little bit longer, wrap up the laundry, and then get some make-up on before my husband comes home. And that's what I did. A few moments later: Wow, she is so quiet! I can't believe how happy she is in there today!

All of the sudden, as I applied powder to my cheeks, my mom sensor started going off. (Yeah, I know. If it took that long to go off, it probably needs a tune-up.) Wait, I thought, maybe she's too quiet. She's not even talking to herself. What could she be doing in there?

And then I just knew. The Vaseline. She's gotten into the Vaseline. I had noticed in recent weeks that Meg was getting tall enough to reach the big tub of it that always sat on her window sill. I had even thought about how I needed to find a new home for it. I just hadn't done it yet. A decided calmness came over me as these thoughts passed rapidly through my brain.

In God's great kindness to me, having this premonition gave me time to prepare my heart for what I might be about to see. I briefly prayed for the Holy Spirit's help to deal gently with my daughter. Then I walked down the hallway and peeked around the corner.

As soon as she saw me, Meg stood bolt upright. "Hi, stinkerpie," I said to her. As swiftly as I could, I climbed over the baby gate and picked her up under her arms, turning her around so that her back was to me. The front of her outfit was completely, thickly covered in petroleum jelly. It was in her hair. It was smeared down her legs. It was on her face. Of course, her hands were slick with it.

I looked quickly around Meg's bedroom on our way to the bathtub. There was Vaseline spread on the wall. There was Vaseline on the leg of the rocking chair, and up the leg and rails of the crib. There was Vaseline rubbed into the rocking chair upholstery. There was a large patch of Vaseline massaged deeply into the carpet. There were blobs of Vaseline all over the dirty laundry, in which Meg had been sitting when I entered the room. There was Vaseline on the cover of Meg's favorite book, a large, hardcover picture Bible. The tub of Vaseline itself (it was one of the really big ones) was a slimy, sticky mess, completely coated with its own contents.

I carried Meg to the bathroom and stood her up in the bathtub. I stripped off her clothes, which actually stank of oily-petroleum-ness. I started to pull off her diaper, when I realized that it was dirty. Of course, I thought, still in my dead-calm state. I ran to get the wipes from the changing table. The phone rang. "That's your daddy," I said to Meg, dropping the wipes off on the bathroom floor and running to our room to get the phone.

"Helloooooo?" I answered in a high-pitched warble.
"Hi, Babe, it's me," said my husband. "How are you?"
"Well," I replied, "I am experiencing a lot of grace, but things are not going very well at the house right now."

* * *
Let's see if I can sum the rest up quickly in a series of brief points.

1. I am grateful for the Internet. You can just type, "get Vaseline out of carpet" into Google and instantly come up with all of the information you need. It's amazing. What did we do before we had it?

2. My husband is wonderful. He came home and found no rest for the weary, but dived right into helping me take care of Meg. Then, after we put her down in our room, he helped me clean up the mess in her room.

3. It took us three baths to get the Vaseline out of Meg's hair. The first time around, I dumped about a third of a bottle of baby wash under the tap (Meg's first bubble bath, which fascinated her!) in hopes that the soap would help cut the grease. It worked on Meg's body, but not so much in her hair. Back into the bathtub she went, after I found an Internet suggestion to try lathering her hair with a beaten egg, then washing as usual. The verdict: ummmm... it sorta worked. It helped a little, but in the morning, when Meg woke up looking like she had used mousse at some point in the past, and then not bathed for several days in a row, I realized that she needed yet another bath. (But first, I had to scrub the tub out, as it was now coated with a thin, greasy Vaseline slime.) In the third bath, I rubbed peanut butter in my daughter's hair, then rinsed, then shampooed and rinsed, then shampooed and rinsed again. You may have heard that peanut butter works to get chewing gum out of hair. Well, turns out that it also works with Vaseline. Although Meg did smell a bit like peanuts for the first 24 hours afterward.

Here are the bath pictures, which are the only ones I managed to take through the whole ordeal. (Vaseline doesn't photograph very well anyway.) This one is her in the first bath, with very hot water (hence the rosy cheeks) and lots of bubbles:
Vaseline Bath 1

Here's one of how she looked the next morning, after the egg shampoo. Not quite her normal, smooth, blond locks.
Vaseline Bath 2

Here's how our child looks with peanut-butter head:
Vaseline Bath 3

And from the front:
Vaseline Bath 4

4. No, we still don't have all the Vaseline out of the carpet. But rubbing alcohol helps a lot! And I still think we can probably get most of it, with another attempt or two!

5. I am so thankful for God's grace throughout this entire situation. It would have been so easy to be angry with Meg, or with the Lord Himself. (One thing that helped was remembering that Meg probably didn't even know she was doing anything wrong. After all, we never told her that she couldn't smear Vaseline all over Creation, and after all, we do apply it to her face regularly!) But God mercifully protected me from adding my sin to an already challenging situation, thereby making it much, much worse.

6. At the end of a long day, several hours of which have been given to Vaseline-scrubbing, it is really nice to live close to Jimmie Cone. After we made our best attempt at cleaning up the disaster site, Dave and I both felt that we needed a little treat. Fifteen minutes later, we were curled up on the couch together, chatting and sharing a large flurry with Reeses Pieces in it.

And that's what I call a happy ending!


The Marcantonios said...

This is too funny! I wish I could have been there. It took me about 25 minutes to read the post, but it was worth it.:)

debbie p said...

Oh the adventures that await! What grace that God kept your heart from anger. :o)

Anonymous said...

This is the first of stories that will be re told and retold to her as she grows up! Maybe her grandparents will help with that!! I just laughed and laughed. I told Grandma Wilcox this story, and when I started out said something about her being quiet, Grandma said, 'huh on, what did she do?' She just loved it


kim said...

You have just described a day we had here not too long ago. Our 20 month old thought it was the coolest stuff ever and now she could reach it!!! (How did I miss this?!!) It was all over the crib rungs, the bumper pad, her pajamas, the favorite blanket, globs & blogs in her hair, her face, her neck, her ears...well, it was everywhere - it was a large jar of it. She was too slippery to pickup. Thank God for His grace in those moments to turn from anger and literally laugh out loud with her and enjoy the moment and what would become a lasting memory. After eight baths where soap or water wasn't even sticking, Google became my best friend that day. Olive Oil (extra virgin of course) worked like a charm, followed by a couple liquid grease-fighting dish washing detergent baths. She smelled like a really good salad later, but she was grease free. The vaseline, well, I can't even reach it now.