This morning, before 8 o’clock, my kids dismantled the playroom.
When I say “dismantled” I don’t mean they made a typically giant toddler mess, disproportionate to their small size. What I mean is they took apart their toy bins and moved around furniture.
Thomas spent the morning wondering how we fit all of Disney World into our living room.
They were making a feast, an idea they say they got from watching Sofia the First, and they used the shelves to make a table. Even though there is an actual table in the playroom.
They decorated with my cloth napkins and placemats, and littered the floor with pipe cleaners from my craft stash. Because a feast without an audience of pipe cleaners is no feast at all.
I know, it doesn’t look too bad in the photos, but what you can’t see is six overturned bins of toys in the other room. Or the scatter. The scatter of toys is what makes smoke come out of my ears. It’s like they walk around the house dropping things — puzzle pieces in the kitchen, a toy drill in the closet, My Little Ponies in the bathroom, and Legos exactly in all the places Mom walks with bare feet.
And guess who put it all there? No one.
I know I should have been delighted that they (sort of) weren’t fighting. Or impressed that Mary Virginia chose to snack on a piece of broccoli (it was plastic, but that’s progress!). But I couldn’t help thinking about the inevitable struggle that would ensue when I told them to clean up that giant mess. Even though cleaning is part of our daily routine, each time we tell them to clean up, our children lose the ability to walk and start melting into the floor.
We’ve tried positive and negative reinforcement, games, songs, and even Cinderella peer pressure. Nothing works. The only thing left to do is lose my mind, so that’s exactly what happens every night.
After the kids’ bedtime, Tom and I rarely have energy to do anything but sit on the couch, stare at the wall, and say “I’m going to get up” every five minutes or so.
Then we go to bed.
Neither of us can remember what we did with our time before we had kids, before we spent an hour every day watching our kids writhe on the floor because that is somehow better than cleaning. I remember feeling very, very busy. I spent a lot of time cooking, and exercising, and we took a lot of weekend trips. I have a specific memory of saying I couldn’t wait to be a stay-at-home mom because of all the free time I’d have, so I suppose you could say I spent a lot of time being delusional.
It’s the day-to-day I can’t remember. When I got home from work, I’d make dinner, then what? What did I do?
Perhaps we can’t remember because in the past five years, the brain space for those memories has been replaced with things like the Paw Patrol theme song.
Actually, I remember spending a lot of time daydreaming about what it would be like to have a house-full of kids overflowing with toys and imaginations and energy. So maybe something more sentimental like, “I can’t remember life before I had you.”
Yeah, maybe that.
P.S. I should add that the kids cleaned this mess with cheerful hearts, and we all celebrated with giant bowls of ice cream.