At one point, I came up stairs to find Avery standing on the decorative wood trim dividing the glass in the doors to the entertainment cabinet, while propping herself up by holding on to the arm of the nearby chair in a maneuver deemed too dangerous by the performers at Cirque du Soleil. Allie, who is witnessing her sister's balancing act being performed at height high enough to knock out more than a few teeth, is indifferent to the potential liability and says nothing.
I make a mental note requiring Alley to retake the OSHA Domestic Compliance and Safety Test again as it appears she clearly did not retain the material covered. However, in all fairness to Allie, both girls' risk assessment skills aren't worth a crap so they both could use a little extra training on the matter. I planned to send an email to HR once I pulled this next load of laundry from the dryer.
After diffusing a potentially hazardous situation and filling out the required incident report forms, I headed down to get the last load of clothes to fold. The girls were woefully short of clothes for their trip to their dad's so this was the priority task for the day - washing, folding and then packing clothes. By this point - load 4 I think - I was nearly blind and my fingers had developed some form of spontaneous arthritis from folding such teeny tiny shirts, pants and skirts all day.
Still, the physical pain was nothing in comparison to the mental anguish of trying to determine whose clothes belonged to who. I know the practical reader would suggest for me to just look at the label, but understand the confusion in some saying 'size 4,' and 'size 5' while others said 'small, extra small,' or just plain 'girls size.' In addition to all those size dilemmas came the accompanying drama of what was once Allie's is now Avery's, yet Allie really likes a number of her old outfits and thinks they are still hers (this situation drives me crazy as there have been times when they would literally rip outfits off of one another thinking that it still belonged to them - high school is going to suck).
Thankfully, Avery decided to take a break from her high-wire routine to watch me fold clothes. To me, watching adults fold laundry would be the ultimate in summer boredom for a kid, but to Avery everything is exciting and new, as well as being a potential opportunity for a fresh set of sutures. Whatever the case, she seemed enthusiastic and I needed a great deal of help differentiating between the girls' underwear.
"You're touching our panties!" Avery squealed, followed by a minute-long round of giggles.
Let me say this now. As a step-father with girls this is something you NEVER want to hear them say, and I prayed the neighbors weren't home as I started blushing.
"Avery, I'm just folding them so you have clean ones for your trip with your daddy." My adult attempt at logic failed to curb the giggling, so I hoped, by ignoring it, she would drop it. She did finally stop laughing and abruptly so, as she focused in on where I just set the last pair of folded Care Bear underwear.
"You're doing it wrong, Ron." There was a undeniable tone of disappointment in her voice as if she believed all caring adults inherently understood which underwear matched to which kids in this world, and I had been one of the first to shatter that reality in her fragile mind. "Those aren't mine. These go with Allie and those ones are mine." She flipped through the rest of the pile of folded clothes searching for any further egregious errors on my part.
"Sorry, Avery." I was still a little embarrassed from earlier, now I was feeling a bit incompetent. What if I get this all done, pack up their stuff for their trip only to find out I had packed a bag with all the wrong stuff. I could just imagine their dad questioning my aptitude for taking care of his offspring if I didn't know the difference between a few sets of girl's underwear. "Help me out here, will ya," I was holding a pair of the Wiggles panties (which, as I think of it now is pretty creepy in itself). "Avery, could you please help me and tell me which are which?"
"If it's a Strawberry Shortcake or Care Bears those are mine and if it's a Hannah Montana or High School Musical, then it's Allies." That was all she said and seemed pretty straightforward to me. However, when I put a pair with Zach Effron's baby blues in the wrong pile, I was chided again.
"You have to hold them up like this," she explained with a sigh. Then she held them up with her pointer fingers stuck in the elastic ban and stretched them. "Then you do this. The small ones are mine and the large ones are Allies."
I followed her advice and seemed be getting it right, given she hadn't called me out as I placed several new pair in each pile. "My panties makes me itchy." Avery finally said after a few moments of being quiet.
I wasn't sure - no, I was pretty sure I didn't want to know the cause or reason behind this. I was weirded out enough already by the sound of a four-year old using the term "panties," so to learn of the source of Avery's itching underwear would not be helping the situation.
"See, right here."
I wasn't going to look, but I could see in my peripheral vision she was repositioning so she could be in my direct line of site. "Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts... I don't want to know what she's..." but before I could finish the thought, Avery was in my face.
"See," she said holding a pair right up to my eyeballs. "These sparkle things make my sides itch."
I was relieved to discover what she was referring to was the decorative sparkles added to the the elastic ban which can twist, allowing the sparkles to then rub on the skin. "Ya, I'd have to agree, that would make me itch too Avery." I couldn't think of any reason men's briefs would have sparkles on them, except for figure skaters maybe, but in any case that was the stupidest thing I had ever seen for a kid.
Then Avery continued. "Mamma doesn't line panties with the stripes in them."
It occurred to me that maybe I shouldn't encourage the subject any further, but I was at least relieved we were now talking about someone elses dainties this time.
"Oh really. You mean she doesn't like all the lines in them?" I wasn't quite sure what she meant, but figured it had to do with color and design.
"No," she said while shaking her head. "She doesn't like the ones the have the stripes that go like this," and with that she made an up-and-down motion with her finger while pointing to her butt crack.
"Ohhh, okay," I said realizing what she meant. "You mean she doesn't like thongs for underwear." Somehow this was turning into a legitimate conversation, and it shouldn't be.
Avery started shaking her head in a way that makes her whole body move up and down in unison, "Ya, the stripe always disappears and she thinks it makes her booty look too big."
I now consider myself pretty well-informed on the matter.