Confession: I am not a particularly organized person, and my house is generally not particularly tidy. I wish it were. I want it to be. I go to friend’s homes and wonder where the photographer is for the next edition of House Beautiful, or whatever, and then I come home. I’m better than I used to be, mainly because I’m gradually learning to throw things away and not attach to the clutter, but my house is still cluttered. If I know ahead of time that people are coming I can whip things into presentable shape, but I can’t manage to maintain it.
All this to help you understand why I derive such a sense of accomplishment from having organized the children’s puzzles and games. Tired of all of the scattered pieces and crushed, broken boxes unwittingly spilling their contents onto closet floors and other floors, I bought a platoon of gallon storage bags and began my project. Each picture depicting each puzzle was cut off it box top and shoved into or stapled onto its own bag. The corresponding pieces were dumped in the bag and the bag was then zipped up and put into a large under-the-bed-type storage box. All of the pieces to the various games were likewise put into their own bags and the boards, well, o.k., I’m not sure where all the boards are now; but originally they were also stored at the bottom of the box.
This system has worked really well. If the kids do a puzzle and find they are missing a piece or two they simply have to rummage through the box until they find what they need. No more rummaging through the depths of cluttered closets littered with shoes that no longer fit but are being saved until the next girl grows into them, no more searching under beds only to find game pieces to a different game than what is currently being played, no more accidentally vacuuming up little marbles intended to feed plastic hippos. Success!
The box was then stored under Tank Boy’s crib. Since it was put there before he ever came home to us, and because there is a bed skirt effectively hiding the fact that there is space underneath his crib, we managed to keep it a secret from him for quite some time.
The secret is out.
I took Tank Boy up for his nap after lunch, and when I walked into his room I realized that Midge and I had had a slight miscommunication earlier in the day. She and Tank Boy had been playing up there while I was doing school with the older two. I have a monitor up there and a receiver down here so I can keep tabs on what is going on. I was so thrilled, relieved and appreciative of the unusual lack of screaming going on up there that I forgot I should be suspicious. When Midge came down later she told me:
“Tank Boy did somfing bad. He took all of the fings out of the toy box.”
Toy box. Well, no big deal. The toy box holds things like the xylophone and the kiddie tape recorder that has needed new batteries for about six years. It contains trucks and cars and other odds and ends. Pick it all up, toss it all in — five minutes, tops.
As you have undoubtedly surmised at this point, it was not the toy box which he emptied.
After a few gasps and whispers, all three girls instinctively headed to the basement to play. I calmly (I am amazed at myself here) put Tank Boy in his crib and told him that was a very bad mess; and then I started picking it all up: hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of puzzle pieces, mixed in with cavorting Candy Land men and marbles that have come to rest next to little, orange, plastic bases for the Chutes and Ladders Kids; empty, lifeless plastic storage bags strewn about with cardboard pictures, more marbles, and sundry other game pieces.
I am down on my hands and knees separating, sorting and storing. Tank Boy, meanwhile, is sitting in his crib and pointing around the room:
“Ober dere! Dere’s more! RIGHT dere!”
And to think that just yesterday I was thrilled with his recent verbal explosion.
And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hewwo!