From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Gunning for Perfection

You have to love your children unselfishly. That’s hard. But it’s the only way.

Barbara Bush

Seven—that’s how many times Pete and I moved in our first ten years of marriage. But the last was a dream-come-true: We purchased a four-acre, lakeside lot in Buffalo, Minnesota, the exact kind of rural environment where we longed to raise our three young sons.

We planned and plotted our new home and put special thought into our idea of a perfect kitchen. We wanted it to be a gathering place, accommodating friends and family. Large, with an open countertop overlooking the lake, it boasted efficient stools for conversations, snacks and homework. Another terrific feature we incorporated was a large, tiled island in the center of the room.

Of course, unpacking boxes and setting things straight in my new, ideal kitchen was top priority for Move Number Twelve. It was like putting together a large puzzle as I organized each item in its rightful place. Perfection!

The next day, I helped six-year-old Cole unpack his room while Kane, two-and-a-half, and Clay, one, entertained themselves. As we worked feverishly at our task, we heard the little ones laughing and playing. But after a time, my “mommy alert” went off.

As I rounded the corner to check on them, I saw a grinning Kane perched on a kitchen stool—fully armed with his weapon drawn. In his hand was the spray nozzle from the sink hose. The ultimate water gun.

And Clay was his moving “target.”

Seeking shelter behind the large island, a giggling Clay peaked out to toddle back and forth just often enough to be shot—drenched—by Kane. Of course, the rest of the kitchen, my perfectly brand-new dream-kitchen, was equally soaked. Water stood nearly a quarter of an inch deep on everything.

My gut reaction was to scream at the top of my lungs, “What are you two doing?” Thankfully, however, the humor in the moment was contagious. What a sight! The boys were having the time of their lives and loving every moment of it. Besides, it was, after all, only water.

All three boys helped me mop up. And when we were finished, we nestled next to each other on the cleanest kitchen floor in all of Buffalo. Ah, I hugged the boys close, perfection!

Rochelle Nelson

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