I wonder if Jake gets up in the morning and thinks, What are my toys doing back in those baskets? Now I have to scatter them all over the floor like I like them. It would be strange I think to wake up every day to the world back in order without having had to do it myself.
I do a lot of mundane activities several million times a day and wonder sometimes why I don’t ever pick up one of those ducks and just throw it – gently and humanely – out of the row. You know, “If I have to put this Blue’s Clue’s puzzle together one more time . . . !”
When I just had one child but was still in that stage where that seemed like a lot (silly me), I was complaining to Mom about living in a 24-hour disaster zone, and she gave me the best advice: Pick one little part of that zone – like the living room, and pick it up ten times a day if you have to, so that there is always one place that stays controlled and peaceful. It worked brilliantly and over the years I’ve added other parts of the house to the plan so that almost the whole thing stays in some semblance of order at any given – I don’t know – quarter – of the day. (That’s right, it’s not a million times a day, or ten, I get exaggeration from Mom too.) So now I’ve added a second part to the advice: Do all of those things have to be done ten times a day? Maybe one of those ducks could go.
I released one the other day. Until then, I had kept a little glass vase on the child-size wooden table in the family room. It had an artificial bouquet of red flowers and baby’s breath. Jake took those flowers out and dumped them on the floor every single time he got a hold of them. And every single time I saw them on the floor, I picked them up and told myself – he’s not going to win. This is just one little feminine touch I am determined to keep in this room, and it’s worth all the times I have to pick it up. But the whole thing began to wear me down. The fake baby’s breath was all dry and flaked off all over the carpet every time it was terrorized. The bouquet looked less like a bouquet and more like a stick drawing of a bouquet every time I stuffed the stupid thing back in there, and it finally seemed like one thing I really didn’t have to do several times a day. I could free myself of it and let Jake off the hook. One day I’ll replace it with a bulkier flower maybe that doesn’t flake and maybe doesn’t even come out of the vase . . . I’ll find a way. But for now, there’s a little red car on that table, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s so much easier to pick up.