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Common ground

January 18, 2010


There is a wild party underway on the living room floor. A plastic chicken sits on a wooden grandpa’s lap. A polar bear and sled dog play sloppy card games. Two small birds arrive, one who won’t stop chirping. Plates and cups are distributed, some are empty, some contain unidentified pieces of fluff. A seal puts all the plates on his head, demonstrating his best stupid party trick and insists everyone look now! A rubber ball is tossed at Mrs. Potato Head who topples onto the sled dog, setting off a ripple of chaos through the whole cross-species village. Cards, plates, and animals skitter across the room. Even the sled dog can’t save the town; it lies in sad ruin waiting for future excavation, or a Mama to call out “clean up time!”

Col (rhymes with soul) and Rose, 5 and 2 ½, have found some common ground, and if it had a name it might be called “the joy of spreading stuff throughout the house accompanied by a vague storyline.” It seems I am out of line to believe their zillions of matchbox cars might be used to say, drive around. A more likely scenario is they’ll be toted in a basket and then served to me as “cake,” then in a flawless segue, become band aids to press onto the wounds of poor Raggedy Ann. The large barrel of tinker toys is for engineering slingshots, from which rubber bands zip and ping (perhaps this is how Raggedy Ann received her bloody welts) at hapless sisters.

And I am stirring dinner, trying not to veto each new item shuttled out of the kids’ room. And reminding myself that the kids are exercising their gorgeous imaginations, and that everything can be put away, and that here I am, stirring dinner, while the kids are collaborating, building layers of stories like a most unusual lasagna, one you might turn around and around, trying to find the proper place to slice in. But that’s just it – this is their creation and I’m the stale interloper who thinks tinker toys are for building, cars for zooming across floors. The kids are quick to tell me “You go. No Mamas in here.” And so I say a silent prayer of thanks that I’ve been excused, for now, from feeding a moose a plate of dust from under Rose’s bed.


innards of the illustrious junk drawer

Contained within my silent prayer is the hope that I may remain relaxed when Col announces cheerily: “I need to find everything that I need,” armed with a thrift store purse and reaching for the junk drawer. I can see the hungry look on his face as he casts about for little chokeables to plunk into the deep caverns of his purse, where Jenga blocks already mingle with plastic chickens. Rose stumbles out of her room sporting a velvet beret and a tool belt, sing-songing to Col “Coley, I need you. The marmosets are hungwy.” Her junior high heels clomp over skittering cars, I mean cakes, er band aids.

Breathe and smile now; we’ll clean up later.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2010 9:57 am

    Love it! Sounds so much like my son Theo. I’m in complete awe of a child’s imagination. Lately, I’ve pondered what one earth has happened to mine?!

  2. January 18, 2010 4:01 pm

    Aw, it is so sweet when the kids play together and you are RIGHT – you can always clean up later. My kids used to play “garbage dump” where they would pile all possible belongings in the middle of the room and then push things with toy bulldozers. It was a pain to clean up but so worth the time that they were playing together.

  3. January 18, 2010 9:32 pm

    Oh, how hard it can be sometimes to hold that calm. I snap so often, yet wishing I could just let their peace be their piece. More and more I step back and try to walk away. Out of sight…out of mind. Like you said I can always clean up, but they may never have that moment back. You know, the one where they are working TOGETHER…even if it is just making a huge mess!


  4. janie permalink
    January 18, 2010 10:34 pm

    Love seeing the spotted jacket on Rosie, it belonged to Arden’s Celia before Juliet loved it.

    We had a rainy weekend with oh so many messes. Jasper and Juliet are teaching the twins to make huge mountains of stuff. Good times.


  5. Ally permalink
    January 18, 2010 10:36 pm

    I’m particularly enjoying those outfits!

  6. meredith pollick permalink
    January 19, 2010 12:52 am

    “…The joy of spreading stuff throughout the house accompanied by a vague storyline…” is absolutely one of the best lines ever written about living with children!
    Your writing continues to develop into glorious descriptions of your blessed life. What joy!

  7. January 20, 2010 12:20 pm

    Oh, mama! I’m with ya! It’s so hard to not get involved in some way. I’m always struggling with letting them “do their thing”, remembering that we will clean up later and that a mess is not the end of the world! Really. I get better everyday because I’m trying! You put this scenario to words so beautifully!

    Take care!

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