There is a wild party under way 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 cleanup time!"
Col (rhymes with soul) and Rose, 5 and 2½, 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 Tinkertoys is for engineering slingshots, from which
rubber bands zip and ping (perhaps this is how Raggedy Ann received her welts) at hapless sisters.
And I am stirring dinner, trying not to veto each new item shuttled out of the kids' room. I remind myself that the
kids are exercising their gorgeous imaginations and everything can be put away.
Here I am, stirring dinner, while the kids are collaborating and 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. I'm the stale interloper who thinks Tinkertoys are for building, and cars are for zooming across
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 dust from under Rose's bed.
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 choke-ables 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."
Breathe and smile now; we'll clean up later.
Rachel Turiel's column appears the first and third Sunday. Reach her at email@example.com. Check out her blog
on raising children, chickens and other messy endeavors at 6,512 feet: "http://6512andgrowing.wordpress.com">6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.